My French Book Club – Part 1


Okay, so maybe it isn’t an actual ‘book club’, considering that I am the only member. And maybe it doesn’t actually take place in France. But these fantastic, beautiful, page-turning books are in some way or another related to Paris. And they must be shared.

Given that my previous article for My French Life™ focused on the author Sandra Gulland, it is only right that I begin with her novel ‘Mistress of the Sun’.

‘Mistress of the Sun’ by Sandra Gulland

With all of the yummy ingredients of a perfect historical novel – passion, scandal, and romance – this story will grab you from the get-go. Louise de la Vallière, sweetly nicknamed Petite, was not a typical king’s mistress. It wasn’t her beauty or charisma that captured the king’s heart. In fact, she was a most humble girl. It was her extraordinary horsemanship.

Read about how Petite, without the necessary attributes usually required for the role of mistress, became the most beloved of Louis XIV.

‘Madame Tussaud’ by Michelle Moran

I am a little embarrassed to admit that when picking up ‘Madame Tussaud’, by Michelle Moran, I did not immediately make the wax museum connection, probably a good thing.

The connection was made when I was well into the book. For me, this story was about a talented young woman in Paris whose gift for wax modelling got her entangled in the nasty business of death masks during the French Revolution. All of a sudden it struck me: “Hold it, she’s the wax museum lady!” Her story is remarkable. They say she was the one who formed Marie Antoinette’s death mask. Fascinating!


‘Sarah’s Key’ by Tatiana de Rosnay

‘Sarah’s Key’ by Tatiana de Rosnay will forever be one of the most moving novels I have ever read. It is profoundly sad, yet incredibly good. Little ten-year- old Sarah is from Paris. Due to the German occupation, she finds herself in the darkest place imaginable, a concentration camp. There, she pines for her little brother who was left behind as a result of her own doing- good intentions gone horribly wrong.

Her survival story and search for her brother is heart wrenching from beginning to end. Keep a box of tissues at hand! It is an absolute must-read.

‘The Paris Wife’ by Paula McLain

The main character in ‘The Paris Wife’, by Paula McLain, gets my knickers in a knot, but in an intriguing manner. Hemingway’s ways, for lack of better words, were destructive. This book gives you excellent insight into what it would have been like to be a part of Hemingway’s life as a wife, a lover, a friend or a foe while he lived in Paris.


‘French Women Don’t Get Fat’, by Mireille Guiliano

Now here’s a book that couldn’t be use more of common sense if it tried! ‘French Women Don’t Get Fat’, by Mireille Guiliano, is not rocket science; it’s logical.

Something I’ve learned on my many trips to France is that a French woman does not binge on Salt ‘n’ Vinegar chips while she’s reading a book, or taking the train, or when she’s just simply bored. They do not snack, period. Imagine the calories we would save if we didn’t snack? I asked my Parisian friend “What do you snack on? Do you ever get the munchies?” “What is snack?” Emmanuelle replied.

She eats when she is supposed to. Another important point is they eat what’s in season. It must be fresh. Let’s take a page out of her book, shall we?

Immersing yourself into another person’s world can be a refreshing break from focusing on your own, especially when the book you’re reading has to do with Paris. So grab a book and take a break. Enjoy!

Image credits:
1. Louise de La Vallière – character in Mistress of the Sun, via Wikipedia
2. Madame Marie Tussaud, via Wikipedia
3. Ernest Hemingway and his first wife Hadley Richardson, via Wikipedia

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Norma Thiessen

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