Category Archives: French

Robert Harris, “An Officer and a Spy”

You know those historical events you should understand but don’t? The ones you try to read about but abandon when your mind kind of slides away from the confusing facts (too many names, too many shifting stories, too long a … Continue reading

Posted in French, historical fiction, thriller | Tagged , , , , | 6 Comments

Mary Blume, “The Master of Us All: Balenciaga, His Workrooms, His World”

I’m going to start with a quotation here, and if you don’t like it you can just move on, because while I adored The Master of Us All, not every reader wants to devote a few hours to a long-dead … Continue reading

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Pierre Assouline, “Le Portrait”

It’s not easy to buy me books, but Beloved Husband outdid himself this Christmas. And say what we will about the state of the book market, it’s pretty cool that he could find a French paperback published in 2007 and … Continue reading

Posted in art history, French | 8 Comments

Andrew Miller, “Pure”

If I describe Andrew Miller’s Pure as a novel about excavating a cemetery in 18th century Paris, you’re not going to want to read it. And maybe if you’re really, really squeamish the subject matter is going to be problematic. On … Continue reading

Posted in contemporary fiction, French, historical fiction | Tagged , | 5 Comments

Carole DeSanti, “The Unruly Passions of Eugenie R.”

It’s 1861. Goose-girl from the south of France runs away with her handsome lover. He sends her to Paris to wait for him but he never shows up and she has to become a prostitute. She sits for a painter … Continue reading

Posted in contemporary fiction, French, historical fiction | Tagged | 4 Comments

Honore de Balzac, “Pere Goriot”

Wouldn’t it be fun to know how many library books circulate without ever getting read? I haven’t had a library card in 25 years so I’m just getting used to the new freedom of choice that lets me bring books … Continue reading

Posted in classic, French | Tagged , , , | 2 Comments

Julian Barnes, “Something to Declare”

I tend to think of Julian Barnes as an all-English writer but I realize, that’s probably just because he used to rather famously play tennis with Martin Amis. (So very English!) But it turns out that Barnes is Francophone and … Continue reading

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Bel-Ami Alert: Rob Pattinson Seduces in a Top Hat

As I’ve already made clear, I’m pretty eager to see the film version of Guy de Maupassant’s Bel-Ami. It’s a book I love (serial seduction in 1885 Paris!) and the casting is delicious, with Robert Pattinson as Georges Du Roy … Continue reading

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Caroline Moorehead, “Dancing to the Precipice”

Lucie Dillon de la Tour du Pin has been vaguely on my radar for a long time; her memoirs show up in  bibliographies when you’re reading about pre-Revolutionary Versailles, or for that matter, about the revolution itself — or even Napoleonic … Continue reading

Posted in biography, French, nonfiction | Tagged , | 1 Comment

Irene Nemirovsky, “All Our Worldly Goods”

I’m having a little French-bourgeoisie moment; last night I began watching Olivier Assayas‘ fabulous Les Destinées Sentimentales, which focuses on a big prosperous turn-of-the-century family that produces porcelain (one branch) and brandy (another branch). Hours earlier I had finished reading … Continue reading

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