MyFrenchLife™ Book Club: French literature challenge 2018 – our top 12 reads
Calling all Francophiles, lovers of literature, and savvy challenge seekers. Have you ever dreamt of joining a French book club? Well, now’s your chance. Welcome to the MyFrenchLife™ 12-month French Literature Challenge 2018! Every month this year, we challenge you to sit back, relax, and delve into one of our specially chosen French books!
We’ve done our research and handpicked 12 of our absolute favourite top reads for 2018.
Our chosen writers range from the giants of classic French literature through to the incredible works of the contemporary. The twelve books vary in style, vocabulary, and theme – enough to keep you going all year round!
So, why take part in this book club? And why do we call it a ‘challenge’?
Perhaps you can’t resist a challenge.
Maybe you’re still looking for that perfect New Year’s resolution.
Whatever your reason, we challenge you to join us in our literary crusade and to make a commitment to read French this year – 2018!
Every opinion matters – especially yours!
We challenge you to join us to read in French and discuss – and share our views…
Each month, we’ll be consulting our French literature experts to bring you new and exciting French book reviews. We promise to dig deep and share our most intimate opinions, interpretations, and perceptions of France’s best literary offerings – and we’d love you to do the same in terms of your response, your views to those reviews (in the comments section) or even contribute your reviews!!!
So, let’s pick up our books and let the reading commence!
Ernaux brings us a fascinating diary broken into the fragments of her everyday commute, depicting a series of small essays on the people and events that occur around her.
All extracts emphasise the everyday people she passes in the Métro and the suburbs of Paris (Cergy-Pontoise). The separate events may feel slightly disconnected or disjointed.
Ernaux explores how we can identify ourselves through observing the outside world: conversations, graffiti on walls, everyday routines, gestures – fragments which leave a trace of our culture behind.
The text is almost a documentary of Ernaux’s world, like a snippet of history in itself – a perfect book for those beginning to read in French.Join our online book club and get your voice heard – buy your copy here.
Delerm looks at the everyday through the perspective of those small pleasures which life often overlooks.
Explore the smallest fragments of everyday pleasure – from the very first sip of a cold beer to the delight of a beautiful box of cakes!
These short snippets of such simple and pleasurable moments almost bounce off the page with joy!
A fast read with an accessible writing style, Delerm really does teach us to relish the tiny pleasures of life!Join our online book club and get your voice heard – buy your copy here.
Marrying Doctor Charles Bovary, Emma quickly realises that the reality of romance – and even being a mother – is not what she expected it to be.
Searching to create a life she has only read about in books, she begins a long journey of love affairs. Will she find her true love and get her happy ending? Read on to find out more.Join our online book club and get your voice heard – buy your copy here.
Du côté de chez Swann is the second part of the first volume in Proust’s famous masterpiece A la recherche du temps perdu.
Follow the love story of Charles Swann and Odette de Crécy, as Proust explores the difficulties of their relationship. Will Swann win Odette’s heart?
Introduced to Odette, a woman Swann wouldn’t normally associate with, the story explores his love and heartache. Warning – Proust is not for the faint-hearted.
The writing is dense and may not be the quickest to read, but the reward will always be worth it! Proust’s poetic tone and beautiful descriptions of Paris are enough to keep the reader gripped until the very end!Join our online book club and get your voice heard – buy your copy here.
Set in Ancient Carthage during the Mercenary revolt, this is Flaubert’s historical novel. The veil of the Goddess Tanit, believed to be shielding the city of Carthage, is stolen by Mâtho, leader of the mercenaries and Spendius, a recently freed slave.
The high priestess Salammbô, daughter of the famous Carthaginian general Hamilcar Barca, must get it back to save her city.
Prepare for battles of the grotesque, scenes of the exotic – and even the erotic! Salammbô is jam-packed with action and descriptions from start to finish.Join our online book club and get your voice heard – buy your copy here.
This is the story of the rise and fall of provincial dreamer Julien Sorel – the novel’s cunning, intelligent, and even romantic protagonist.
Leaving his poor life behind, Julien becomes the tutor for the children of the Rênal family.
It’s not long before the young tutor is working his way into the heart of Mrs Rênal, beginning a sordid love affair.
Gaining access to other social circles, Julien moves to the house of Marquis de la Mole to enhance his career, which leads to yet another love affair with de la Mole’s daughter – Mathilde!
The twist in this tale is violent and one that you won’t expect. A real page-turner, this is a book you definitely won’t be able to put down!Join our online book club and get your voice heard – buy your copy here.
It’s time to enter La Comédie humaine – Balzac’s world. The famous pasta-making Father Goriot lives in the Maison Vauquer, a boarding house in Paris, with other Parisian residents, including law student Rastignac and an elusive character; Vautrin.
Vautrin desperately tries to persuade Rastignac to pursue a rich young lady, Victorine, plotting to kill her brother to ensure her inheritance. Will Rastignac go through with Vautrin’s plan? Is love really all about money?
A classic in the world of French literature – the descriptions, characters, and plot will have you desperate to read more of The Human Comedy!Join our online book club and get your voice heard – buy your copy here.
Are you bored of the classic French heroine being a passive, dull character? If so, you will love the audacity in Lamiel.
A girl sheltered from the world, books, and (of course) men, Lamiel chooses to escape her constraints with drastic consequences.
Finally, a heroine that does what she wants! Read on to see what happens.Join our online book club and get your voice heard – buy your copy here.
Nothomb’s celebrated novel tells of her difficult experiences in Japan working as a translator for a Japanese company.
With differences in culture, language, and the corporate world, Amélie struggles to keep her head above water.
After being accused of stealing jobs and failing to gain credit for any of her hard work, will Amélie choose to stay in her job?
A short but fascinating read, with an interesting cultural outlook on differences between Europe and Japan.Join our online book club and get your voice heard – buy your copy here.
A classic in the world of French literature, Laclos’s novel is full of cunning, plotting, love affairs, and jealousy.
Two rivals and ex-lovers, The Marquise de Merteuil and the Vicomte de Valmont, use seduction techniques to outdo each other through their manipulation of different people.
This epistolary novel feels more like a soap opera you would find on TV – full of drama, conflict, and confrontation! Set against a backdrop of seduction and manipulation, who will win this literary battle?Join our online book club and get your voice heard – buy your copy here.
The work has an abundance of themes ranging from love, memory, and the city of Paris to decadence, eroticism and misogyny.
Arguably some of the most beautiful poems ever to have been written, Les Fleurs du Mal is a must read!Join our online book club and get your voice heard – buy your copy here.
A short novel and a perfect start for those wishing to read more in French. The beginning may appear gloomy with the death of Meursault’s mother, yet the story becomes far more interesting as the plot progresses.
Meursault’s neighbour Raymond, who has recently beaten his mistress for her infidelity, is plotting revenge. Raymond asks Meursault to help him lure the woman to his house – but what are the consequences?
On the surface, the plot appears quite simple, yet is enriched with the philosophy of existentialism and the absurd.
Written in modern French (passé composé – NOT the traditional passé simple), it is a far easier option for anyone wishing to start reading in French.Join our online book club and get your voice heard – buy your copy here.
Now it’s your turn to get involved – let the challenge begin!
Join us now for the very first online book club as we review:
Find a review, questions, and discussion…
January – Annie Ernaux’s Journal du dehors – come on over !
February – Philippe Delerm’s La Première Gorgée de Bière – come on over !
What do you think of our 12 top reads for 2018? Are you excited to take on the challenge and join our French book club? We’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments box below and let’s get reading!
1. Images 1-3, 5-7, 9-13 © Jessica Rushton
2. Madame Bovary, via Flickr
3. Le père Goriot, via Flickr