Beaucoup de Wit(t)!

French Exit by Patrick deWitt One thing’s clear: Canadian author deWitt is incapable of writing the same thing twice. Each of his four novels is unique – from the bartender making notes about his customers for a novel in his debut Ablutions (see here) to the The Blues Brothers meets Deadwood of the fabulous The Sisters Read More

Who better to talk about the surrealists?

The Lives of the Surrealists by Desmond Morris Surrealism was originally more than an art movement, it was a philosophical code – a way of living that rebelled against the establishment.  Originating in  1920s Paris, following the Dadaists in WWI, it spread world-wide. The term ‘surrealism’ was coined by Apollinaire a few years before two Read More

Paris in July 2018 take two: Simenon & Laurain

Two short reviews for my second contribution to Paris in July – an annual tag hosted by Thyme for Tea which I love doing each year. A Man’s Head by Georges Simenon Translated by David Coward A Man’s Head was the ninth Maigret novel, originally published in 1931, I read David Coward’s 2014 translation in the new Penguin Read More

Paris in July 2018 – Vernon Subutex returns…

Paris in July is an annual tag hosted by Thyme for Tea which I love doing each year.  Here’s my first contribution… Vernon Subutex 2 by Virginie Despentes Translated by Frank Wynne This is a sequel to Vernon Subutex 1, which was a real discovery for me in 2017 – you can read my review here.  Read More

Shows how hard it is to pull off a literary thriller…

Lullaby by Leïla Slimani Translated by Sam Taylor     The baby is dead. It took only a few seconds.   This French bestseller has such a killer first line – they put it on the front cover. You’re left with no doubt that ‘The Perfect Nanny‘ (as this book has been titled in the Read More

Six Degrees of Separation: The Beauty Myth

  Hosted each month by Kate at Booksaremyfavouriteandbest, the Six Degrees of Separation meme picks a starting book for participants to go wherever it takes them in six more steps. Click on the titles to go to my reviews.  Our starting book this month is the feminist classic: The Beauty Myth by Naomi Wolf Wolf’s  bestselling Read More

#WITMonth – Virginie Despentes – Vernon Subutex 1

A state of the nation novel for the post-punk generation Translated by Frank Wynne Virginie Despentes has lived a bit! You can sense that she’s happy for us to know that from her provocative author photo (right), which is also laden with Gallic irony. Looking her up, she’s been a maid, worked in massage parlours and Read More

YA adventure in Revolutionary France

Blade and Bone by Catherine Johnson This book was published to coincide with October’s Black History Month, so I fear my review is a little late, however, better late than never and this was a YA book well worth reading. Blade and Bone is the sequel to Sawbones which is where we would have first met Read More

A grown-up Parisian fin de siecle nightmare?

Mister Memory by Marcus Sedgwick I’ve been a fan of Sedgwick for years – He has primarily written for children and YA audiences until fairly recently. However, reading his YA novels as an adult has never disappointed, (see here, here, here, here and here – Yes, I am a big fan!). Now he is also writing for Read More

Women in Translation month – a French novella

Marie by Madeleine Bourdouxhe Translated by Faith Evans This gorgeously produced novella with its stunning cover design is turning into one of the sleeper hits of the summer. The cover stood out in the bookshop and I had to buy it – luckily the story inside is just as high quality, (read Jacqui‘s review too). This was Read More

Paris in July: Discovering Antoine Laurain

Paris in July is an annual event hosted by Tamara at Thyme for Tea – it’s now in its seventh year. I’ve managed to squeeze in a second Parisian read this month… The President’s Hat by Antoine Laurain What a discovery this novel and its author were! Feel-good and completely charming, The President’s Hat was the perfect book to Read More

Paris in July

Paris in July is an annual event hosted by Tamara at Thyme for Tea – it’s now in its seventh year. Given recent awful events in France, reading a French novel seemed a good way to show support. No and Me by Delphine de Vigan Translated by George Miller When first published in English translation in 2010, Read More

Is it possible to give Proust the graphic novel treatment?

In Search of Lost Time: Swann’s Way by Marcel Proust – A Graphic Novel Adaptation and Drawings by Stéphane Heuet Translated by Arthur Goldhammer I’ve not got the patience or time to read Proust’s masterpiece, but I’ve always wondered what it was like. When I spotted that French into English publishers Gallic books were bringing Read More

Shiny Fiction Linkiness

Time to share my Fiction reviews from Issue 8 of Shiny New Books with you – four very different but enjoyable books, click through to read the full reviews, links within the text refer to my previous reviews: The Great Swindle by Pierre Lemaitre Best known for his Verhoeven trilogy, Lemaitre has turned from contemporary fare to the end Read More

Irene – Alex – Camille: The Verhoeven trilogy comes full circle

Camille by Pierre Lemaitre Translated by Frank Wynne I was meant to be reviewing this for Shiny New Books‘  in the ‘Extra Shiny’ edition (coming to you on May 12th).  I loved it, it is definitely a ‘Shiny’ book, but it is the final part of a trilogy and I felt it would be too difficult to Read More

Camille Verhoeven Irene Frank Wynne Pierre lemaitre maclehose

Irène by Pierre Lemaitre Translated by Frank Wynne Irène is chronologically the first novel in Pierre Lemaitre’s trilogy featuring Parisian police detective Commandant Camille Verhœven, yet in the UK it was published second, after Alex and is followed this spring by the third volume, Camille. I reviewed Alex in 2013 (click here) and it was the best crime thriller I read all that Read More

Romance in a Paris Cinema – a feelgood recipe for success?

The Secret Paris Cinema Club by Nicholas Barreau Although I rarely read full-on romance novels, I couldn’t resist this one. It has all the feelgood ingredients one could ask for – an old cinema, a beautiful woman in a red coat, a classic boy meets girl/loses girl/finds girl (one hopes) romance – and it is Read More

“Echoed voices in the night she’s a restless spirit on an endless flight”

Babayagaby Toby Barlow Toby Barlow’s debut, Sharp Teeth, which I capsule-reviewed back in the early days of this blog should have really appeared in my Top novels I’ve read by men post from a couple of days ago. His Sopranos-style story of gang warfare amongst the werewolves in LA, written in the form of a prose Read More

Bought it on Wednesday, read it by Friday, blogged on Saturday

Alex by Pierre Lemaitre Translated by Frank Wynne Alex is one of those thrillers that has been quietly gathering a word of mouth momentum since its publication earlier this year. Now the paperback is out, it is going to go stratospheric as Gone Girl did, (my review of that here). A French teacher friend has been recommending Alex to our book Read More

A French crime novel of character…

The Three Evangelists by Fred Vargas, translated by Sian Reynolds This was our bookgroup read for June into July, the first roman policier, and an award-winning one too, by frenchwoman Fred Vargas – Fred being short for Frédérique.  Vargas is an archaeologist and historian and, with Reynolds as her translator, won three successive CWA International Dagger awards for Read More

C'est fun, but c'est n'est pas Les Mis…

Illumination by Matthew Plampin Given the love for all things French and 19th century at the moment thanks to the film I still haven’t seen that is Les Misérables, it was a good time to read a revolutionary novel. Illumination is set later than Hugo’s masterpiece,  during the Siege of Paris of 1870-71 in the Franco-Prussian Read More

Art, Love and War

Waiting for Robert Capa by Susanna Fortes, trans from the Spanish by Adriana V Lopez This novel is a fictionalised account of the true story of Gerda Taro and Robert Capa, two of the foremost photojournalists who reported on the Spanish Civil War. The story begins in Paris though, when young Jewish German refugee Gerta Read More

An Oulipo French classic

Zazie in the Metro by Raymond Queneau, translated by Barbara Wright Zazie’s mother has a hot date in Paris, so she has to leave her eleven year old daughter with her Uncle Gabriel.  Zazie is a mischievous and potty-mouthed youngster who, unable to achieve her aim of travelling on the Métro as they are on Read More

A Dark tale of twins: American – in Paris

This post was republished into my blog’s original timeline from my lost posts archive   Comes the Night by Hollis Hampton-Jones Meade and Ben Ho are nineteen year old twins; they are Americans in Paris, rich kids. They have one of those incredibly close, empathic and near telepathic twin relationships. Ben Ho is at art Read More

Two novels, two different Millers…

This post was combined and republished into my blog’s timeline from my lost posts archive. Snowdrops by A D Miller I bought this debut novel at the beginning of the year.  It’s had a lot of interest even before it was Booker longlisted. Trying to ignore the hype, I dove in. It’s a tale of Read More

A Cinematic treat for readers of all ages…

The Invention of Hugo Cabret: A Novel in Words and Pictures by Brian Selznick This book has a fascinating concept. It’s a chunkster of over 500 pages that can be read in just a couple of hours for over half the pages are pictures – black and white pencil drawings mostly. But it’s not a Read More

Underneath its prickles is a charming story …

The Elegance of the Hedgehog by Muriel Barbery translated from the French by Alison Anderson. Get past the prickles in this novel by Muriel Barbery, and there is a charming story underneath. It’s told from the alternating viewpoints of Renée, a widowed concierge who has a love of philosophy, cinema and Tolstoy, and Paloma, an incredibly Read More