Tag: Books: French Literature

Books on France Reading Challenge Wrap-Up

Posted 8 December, 2013 by Lianne in Books / 0 Comments

Books on France Reading Challenge 2013
hosted @ Words and Peace

And here we are, more or less at the end of the year. I was initially going to post this at the end of the month, in case I read any more books that can be included in this but given the amount of books on my to-read pile as is, I think it’s safe to say that I am at the end of he Books of France Reading Challenge for 2013 🙂 This is the second reading challenge I’ve ever participated in, which was a lot of fun.

Just a recap, this challenge included any books set in France or contains any French themes; the full list can be found on the challenge main page hosted by words and peace.


  • LEVEL 1, “un peu” = 3 books (one per quarter for instance)
  • LEVEL 2, “beaucoup”= 6 books
  • LEVEL 3, “passionnément” = 12 books (one/month, for instance)
  • LEVEL 4, “à la folie”= 52 books (one/week, for instance)

So what did I read? 🙂

  • Denyse Beaulieu’s The Perfume Lover: A Personal History of Scent (ARC; set in France, focuses on the perfume industry there) — review
  • Alexandre Dumas’ La dame aux camelias (French author; set in France) — review
  • Edward Rutherfurd’s Paris: the novel (ARC; set in France) — review
  • Maurice Druon’s The Iron King, book 1 of the Accursed Kings (French author; set in France) — review
  • Gustave Flaubert’s Madame Bovary (French author; set in France) — review
  • Alexandre Dumas’ The Count of Monte Cristo (French author; set in France) — review
  • Victor Hugo’s Notre-Dame of Paris (French author; set in France) — review
  • Honore de Balzac’s Pere Goriot (French author; set in France) — review
  • Honore de Balzac’s Cousin Bette (French author; set in France) — review
  • Benjamin Constable’s Three Lives of Tomomi Ishikawa (ARC; partly set in France) — review
  • Paulita Kincer’s The Summer of France (set in France) — review
  • Deanna Raybourn’s A Spear of Summer Grass (partly set in France) — review
  • Alan Furst’s Mission to Paris (eGalley; set in France) — review
  • Laurie R. King’s The Bones of Paris (eGalley/ARC; set in France) — review
  • Carlos Ruiz Zafon’s The Watcher in the Shadows (set in France) — review
  • Jojo Moyes’ The Girl You Left Behind (eGalley; partly set in France) — review
  • Isabelle Lafleche’s J’adore Paris (set in Paris) — review
  • Guy de Maupassant’s Bel-Ami (French author; set in France) — review
  • Ayse Kulin’s Last Train to Istanbul (eGalley; partly set in France) — review
  • Christopher Angel’s The Mona Lisa Speaks (set in France) — review
  • M.K. Tod’s Unravelled (partly set in France) — review
  • Susan Conley’s Paris Was the Place (set in France) — preview post
  • P.S. Duffy’s The Cartographer of No-Man’s Land (party set in France) — review
  • Anna Gavalda’s Ensemble C’est Tout (Hunting and Gathering; French author; set in France) — commentary
  • Sebastien Japrisot’s A Very Long Engagement (French author; set in France) — review
  • Irene Nemirovsky’s All Our Worldly Goods (emigrated to France; set in France) — commentary

TOTAL = 26 books

Wow! And I actually got through all of the books I listed for this challenge!

It’s been pretty much the year of French literature for me as, thanks to this challenge, I’ve read quite a number of French classics ranging from Dumas to Flaubert. Did I have a particular favourite from the group? Well, there’s of course a few favourites here that I re-read (Japrisot’s A Very Long Engagement, Gavalda’s Ensemble C’est Tout) and some new titles I enjoyed, both classics (Dumas’ The Count of Monte Cristo, Flaubert’s Madame Bovary) and by contemporary authors (Rutherfurd’s Paris, Lafleche’s J’adore Paris).

And that’s a wrap! 🙂

Have you read any of these titles? If so, what did you think of them? If you participated in this reading challenge, what was your favourite book read for it?

Edit: Just a heads up that I am hosting 3 reading challenges next year for anyone who’s interested in participating: Everything España, A Year in Re-Reading, and 2014 Shakespeare Reading Challenge 🙂

Commentary: Ensemble C’est Tout

Posted 10 November, 2013 by Lianne in Books / 0 Comments

Hunting and Gathering (Ensemble C’est Tout)
By: Anna Gavalda
Format/Source: Trade paperback; my purchase

Gavalda explores the twists of fate that connect four people in Paris. Comprised of a starving artist, her shy, aristocratic neighbor, his obnoxious but talented roommate, and a neglected grandmother, this curious, damaged quartet may be hopeless apart, but together, they may just be able to face the world.

I read this novel for the first time a few years ago (you can read my review over here) after having watched the movie with Audrey Tautou and Guillaume Canet. It was a delightful movie and I was curious about the novel . It quickly became an all-time favourite of mine (in fact, I own two copies of this novel: the English edition under the title Hunting and Gathering, and the French edition whose cover is featured here). For the past year or two I had been meaning to re-visit the book again, maybe write down a few of my favourite quotes to put into my quotes journal, but I never found the time until I decided to participate in the Books in France reading challenge this year. And here we are 🙂

This book is part of the Books on France Reading Challenge 2013 that I am participating in.

Contains spoilers ahead!

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Review: The Count of Monte Cristo

Posted 2 September, 2013 by Lianne in Books / 2 Comments

The Count of Monte Cristo
By: Alexandre Dumas
Format/Source: eBook; my copy

Thrown in prison for a crime he has not committed, Edmond Dantès is confined to the grim fortress of If. There he learns of a great hoard of treasure hidden on the Isle of Monte Cristo and he becomes determined not only to escape, but also to unearth the treasure and use it to plot the destruction of the three men responsible for his incarceration. Dumas’ epic tale of suffering and retribution, inspired by a real-life case of wrongful imprisonment, was a huge popular success when it was first serialised in the 1840s.

And here we are at what I call my obligatory mammoth read of the year, lol =P In all seriousness, I’ve been eyeing The Count of Monte Cristo for the longest time, especially after reading The Three Musketeers (review) and La dame aux camellias (review). I sort of had to wait until all my coursework was completed so that I could focus on this book a bit more xP May contain some spoilers ahead!

This book is part of the Books on France Reading Challenge 2013 that I am participating in.

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Review: Bel-Ami

Posted 14 August, 2013 by Lianne in Books / 4 Comments

By: Guy de Maupassant
Format/Source: eBook

Maupassant’s second novel, Bel-Ami (1885), is the story of a ruthlessly ambitious young man (Georges Duroy, christened ‘Bel-Ami’ by his female admirers) making it to the top in fin-de-siecle Paris. It is a novel about money, sex, and power, set against the background of the politics of the French colonization of North Africa. It explores the dynamics of an urban society uncomfortably close to our own and is a devastating satire of the sleaziness of contemporary journalism.

I was busy with exams last week so I’ve sort of been on a roll reading short stories and novellas to pass the time (because I’m notoriously known for picking up really interesting books, thus derailing me from really studying =P). One of the free classics I found on Feedbooks was Bel-Ami so I decided to check it out. I was vaguely familiar about what the story was about, though throughout the story I did find myself getting confused between the recent adaptation with Uma Thurman and Robert Pattinson and the movie Cherie with Michelle Pfeiffer and Rupert Friend for whatever reason. But anyways…

This book is part of the Books on France Reading Challenge 2013 that I am participating in.

May contain some minor spoilers ahead!

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Review: Pere Goriot

Posted 29 July, 2013 by Lianne in Books / 0 Comments

Pere Goriot
By: Honore de Balzac
Format/Source: eBook; my copy

By 1819, when Balzac’s novel opens, old Goriot is reduced to living in a mean forty-five franc room on the third floor, his fine cambric shirts and diamond pin long sold. Moon-faced, unhappy and unkempt, his only visitors are two glamorous Parisian women, ‘too pretty to be good’, who call infrequently and surreptitiously, leaving their carriages on the corner of the boulevard. They are his daughters, Goriot claims, but the only lodger generous enough to believe him is Eugene Rastignac, an impoverished law student, ambitious to plant a foot in the glittering society of the Faubourg Saint-Germain.

I read Cousin Bette (review) last month and didn’t enjoy it but it didn’t stop me from checking out Le Pere Goriot, which has also been sitting on my eReader for some time. I’ve heard good things about this book so I decided to read it sooner rather than later.

This book is part of the Books on France Reading Challenge 2013 that I am participating in.

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