Tag: Books: French Literature

Review: A Very Long Engagement

Posted 14 July, 2013 by Lianne in Books / 6 Comments

A Very Long Engagement
By: Sebastien Japrisot
Format/Source: Paperback; my copy

During the First World War five French soldiers, accused of a cowardly attempt to evade duty, are bundled into no-man’s land and certain death. Five bodies are later recovered, the families are notified that the men died in the line of duty and the whole, distasteful incident appears closed. After the war the fiancee of one of the men receives a letter which hints at what might have happened. Mathilde Donnay determines to discover the fate of her beloved amid the carnage of battle.

I must’ve mentioned the story on how I got my hands on this book a few times but suffice to say it took a while, lol. I loved the movie adaptation of this novel starring Audrey Tautou, Marion Cotillard and Gaspard Ulliel (loved it, by the way), it had many elements that I enjoyed in a novel/film: set during a war period somewhere in Europe, an engaging mystery, a scathing look at the hypocrisy and ridiculousness of bureaucracy, a love story overcoming many challenges. If I didn’t love the movie enough, it’s also one of my favourite novels.

I never wrote a review for this novel the first time around but decided to re-read it as part of the Books on France Reading Challenge 2013 that I am participating in. Figured it was a good time to re-visit this novel ^_~

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Review: Notre-Dame de Paris

Posted 7 July, 2013 by Lianne in Books / 4 Comments

Notre-Dame de Paris
By: Victor Hugo
Format/Source: eBook; my copy

At the center of Hugo’s classic novel are three extraordinary characters caught in a web of fatal obsession. The grotesque hunchback Quasimodo, bell-ringer of Notre-Dame, owes his life to the austere archdeacon, Claude Frollo, who in turn is bound by a hopeless passion to the gypsy dancer Esmeralda. She, meanwhile, is bewitched by a handsome, empty-headed officer, but by an unthinking act of kindness wins Quasimodo’s selfless devotion. Behind the central figures moves a pageant of picturesque characters, including the underworld of beggars and petty criminals whose assault on the cathedral is one of the most spectacular set-pieces of Romantic literature.

Victor Hugo is one of those authors I’ve heard of and had been meaning to check out but never really gotten around to until now. Funny enough, I never got around to watching the Disney movie when it came out despite my love of history (one of my early loves) and despite the fact that I owned this book on how to make friendship bracelets featuring Disney’s Esmeralda, lol. But anyways, I was curious about the original story so I decided to read it.

(The review comes with pictures! =D I think I had more fun adding the photos for this one, lol)

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

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Review: Cousin Bette

Posted 3 July, 2013 by Lianne in Books / 0 Comments

Cousin Bette
By: Honore de Balzac
Format/Source: eBook; my copy

Poor, plain spinster Bette is compelled to survive on the condescending patronage of her socially superior relatives in Paris: her beautiful, saintly cousin Adeline, the philandering Baron Hulot and their daughter Hortense. Already deeply resentful of their wealth, when Bette learns that the man she is in love with plans to marry Hortense, she becomes consumed by the desire to exact her revenge and dedicates herself to the destruction of the Hulot family, plotting their ruin with patient, silent malice.

Up next in my tour de force in classic French literature is Cousin Bette by Honore de Balzac. I’ve heard of him every now and then in passing but I’ve never read any of his work until now. It was between reading this title and Pere Goriot and this book won out because it sounded like a curious character drama. 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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Commentary: All Our Worldly Goods

Posted 14 June, 2013 by Lianne in Books / 0 Comments

All Our Worldly Goods
By: Irene Nemirovsky
Format/Source: Paperback; my copy

Pierre and Agnes marry for love against the wishes of his parents and the family patriarch, the tyrannical industrialist Julien Hardelot, provoking a family feud which cascades down the generations. Even when war is imminent and Pierre is called up, the old man is unforgiving. Taut, evocative and beautifully paced, All Our Worldly Goods points up with heartbreaking detail and clarity how close were those two wars, how history repeated itself, tragically, shockingly…

I first read this book some four years ago when I started grad school (review). It was my first Irene Nemirovsky novel; I decided to pick this book up after having heard wonderful things from both fellow book lovers and from her then-recently-discovered-and-published book Suite Francaise (review). I was going through my bookshelves recently and couldn’t remember too much about this novel so I decided to re-visit it. Contains 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: Madame Bovary

Posted 30 April, 2013 by Lianne in Books / 6 Comments

Madame Bovary
By: Gustave Flaubert
Format/Source: eBook; my copy

Emma Bovary is beautiful and bored, trapped in her marriage to a mediocre doctor and stifled by the banality of provincial life. An ardent devourer of sentimental novels, she longs for passion and seeks escape in fantasies of high romance, in voracious spending and, eventually, in adultery. But even her affairs bring her disappointment, and when real life continues to fail to live up to her romantic expectations, the consequences are devastating. Flaubert’s erotically charged and psychologically acute portrayal of Emma Bovary caused a moral outcry on its publication in 1857. It was deemed so lifelike that many women claimed they were the model for his heroine; but Flaubert insisted: ‘Madame Bovary, c’est moi.’

Some time ago I was on the hunt for some novels featuring a lot of internal drama (one of my favourite topics/facets in novels); someone had mentioned this novel. I’ve been slowly getting around to my classics (this year is shaping up to be the year of French classic literature) and decided to read this book at long last. Contains spoilers ahead!

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

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