My French Book Club – Part II
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.
And so the fabulous reading continues on from my previous French book club article…
‘Paris A Love Story’ by Kati Marton
I gobbled up this book in five hours. I have never in my life read a book in five hours—for a couple of reasons. First one being, I love making a good book last, and second, I have never had a book take a hold on me so quickly. I began reading and couldn’t put it down until I was finished.
Kati Marton is a successful and talented journalist. She writes about her fascinating life with such passion. This is what grabbed me. She takes you there, making you feel as though you are with her each exciting and painful step of the way. But mostly, I admire her honesty and ability to write in such a way while in the midst of heartbreak.
This is a beautiful love story that will no doubt leave you sitting back and reflecting.
‘The Age of Desire’ by Jennie Fields
Historical fiction based on real-life characters is my favourite genre. A little fiction based on a little nonfiction interests me to no end. So here is another gem of a book that takes you into the life of famed author Edith Wharton.
Her disappointing, sexless marriage, and ‘dolt’ of a husband, pushes her into a bittersweet love affair that troubles her for years. It is the early 1900s and she meets her man in Paris at a salon, a popular weekly gathering for the privileged and intellectual of the day.
Jennie Fields paints an intriguing picture of Edith’s life in Paris as well as her life at The Mount, her country estate in the United States where she spent her summers.
I was definitely not finished with Edith after the book, so I grabbed my laptop and googled her for hours.
‘Remarkable Creatures’ by Tracy Chevalier
Chevalier’s novel takes place in the early 1800s. It retells the captivating true story of Mary Annings. Mary lived in Lyme, a coastal town in West Dorset, England.
Since she had an eye for finding fossils, Mary’s days were spent searching the beaches and cliffs for the ‘curiosities’ which her family sold to tourists.
During one of Mary’s hunts she came across an unusual looking specimen. Calling in the help of family and friends to dig the piece out, she found nothing less than the bones of a dinosaur—an incredible find!
I found the story interesting, as women back then were not acknowledged for any kind of success. Mary’s find was handed over to a gentleman who took credit. Only later in life did Mary finally receive the recognition that she so deserved.
‘Paris by Plaque’ by Paul Bethel and Anna Meakin
If you are a history fanatic like me who finds yourself staring at an old wall a little too long because it has some historical significance, or standing captivated at a corner where Picasso once stood, or enthralled that you are walking up the exact set of steps that Toulouse-Lautrec would have climbed, then you would very much enjoy Anna and Paul’s walk.
They take you to each historical plaque throughout Montmartre in Paris and translate it for you! It is the perfect tour for a non-French speaking visitor. I have passed those plaques many times wishing I could understand them. I know, take French lessons. I’ve tried!
You can find their book on Amazon. Or pick up a copy, when you arrive, at the wonderful little Musée de Montmartre.
Pick up a good book and pour yourself a lovely glass of wine. I can’t imagine an evening better spent.
1. Kati Marton, via Vogue August 2012 issue
2. Edith Wharton, the main character in The Age of Desire, via The View From Fez
3. The Mount, Edith Wharton’s summer home, via Belle Maison
4. Mary Anning from Remarkable Creatures, via Wiki Commons
5. This image is a sculpture in the Montmartre area in Paris mentioned in Paris by Plaque, by Norma Theissen.