2019 My French Life™ Book club reading list of recently-translated French novels

2019 My French Life™ Book club list of recently-translated French novels
This year we have decided to submit a short list of three books that will cover the first 6 months of the year in order to give ourselves the opportunity to choose books freshly translated and published later in the year.

A few words about Colette

In (French) summer 2019, we intend to take a break from our ‘recently-published book’ theme in order to respond positively to your suggestions…

A few members, saw Colette the movie, and it renewed their interest in the French writer’s life and novels.

So, we’re going to follow author and translator Carolyne Lee‘s recommendation, and we will (in July – August) read Collette’s first novel ‘Claudine à l’Ecole’

Read with us – Buy here: Claudine à l’Ecole

Later in fall, we intend to organize member events and specific activities closely related to Colette’s world and writings in Paris. Since it is too early to disclose this project (still in development), we highly recommend you stay tuned! And in the meantime you can read my feedback on Colette le film.

2019 My French Life™ Book club reading list

Book 1- Adèle

Adèle by Leïla Slimani

This novel was written before The Perfect Nanny, but given its planetary success, it was not long before Penguin Random House decided to have it translated in English (by Sam Taylor) and published.

‘From the bestselling author of The Perfect Nanny, her prizewinning novel about a sex-addicted woman in Paris. She wants only one thing: to be wanted. 

Adèle appears to have the perfect life: She is a successful journalist in Paris who lives in a beautiful apartment with her surgeon husband and their young son. But underneath the surface, she is bored–and consumed by an insatiable need for sex.

Driven less by pleasure than compulsion, Adèle organizes her day around her extramarital affairs, arriving late to work and lying to her husband about where she’s been, until she becomes ensnared in a trap of her own making.

Suspenseful, erotic, and electrically charged, Adèle is a captivating exploration of addiction, sexuality, and one woman’s quest to feel alive.’

Read with us – Buy here: Adèle

Book 2 – Little Dancer Aged Fourteen

Little Dancer Aged Fourteen by Camille Laurens translated by Willard WoodR

“Not many people today look at Little Dancer Aged Fourteen, Degas’ iconic sculpture of a young girl in tutu and point shoes, and think “criminal.” But in 1880s Paris, that is exactly what the critics saw.

In this nonfiction work about the anonymous young woman who posed for the famous impressionist artist, French novelist Laurens  frankly explores “the louche world” of dance in nineteenth-century Paris, the exhausting and vulnerable job of the artist’s model, and her own journey as an amateur researcher.

In focusing on Degas’ model, she spins a compelling and tragic tale of poverty, power, and the arts that raises questions about the artist’s responsibility to his subject.

Degas, Laurens argues, was fascinated not with the ravishing ballerina but with the laboring dancer, “the wearying work of rehearsals, the dancer’s body bent and weighted down with effort.” Degas’ sculpture as well as his paintings of ballet dancers—or ‘opera rats’, as they were known—broke the rules of both polite society and academic art to powerful and lasting effect.” —BOOKLIST, STARRED REVIEW

Read with us – Buy here: Little Dancer Aged Fourteen Years

About the author

Camille Laurens is an award-winning French novelist and essayist. She received the Prix Femina, one of France’s most prestigious literary prizes, in 2000 for Dans ces bras-là, which was published in the United States as In His Arms in 2004.

Her second novel to appear in English, Who You Think I Am (Other Press, 2017), is the basis for a forthcoming film starring Juliette Binoche. Laurens lives in Paris.

Book 3 – Hear Our Defeats

Hear Our Defeats by Laurent Gaudé translated by Alison Anderson

Timely and provocative, Hear Our Defeats is a novel about the battles that define us.

The battles lost, won, and those still being fought.

A French intelligence officer, Assem, is tasked with tracking down a former member of the U.S. Special Forces suspected of drug trafficking during the War in Afghanistan.

En route to Beirut he shares a night with Miriam, an Iraqi archaeologist, who is in a race against time to save ancient artefacts across the Middle East from the destruction wreaked by ISIS.

Woven into these two forceful, gripping storylines are stylish meditations on humankind’s bellicose history.

  • Hannibal’s failed march on Rome and the burning of his fleet on the waters of the Mediterranean;
  • Grant’s pursuit of the Confederates into rural Virginia;
  • Robert E. Lee’s surrender at Appomattox Courthouse; and
  • Emperor Haile Selassie’s swift retreat from Ethiopia

All turning points in world history, show different facets of how nations and individuals face defeat. Gaudé writes with a riveting immediacy, seamlessly taking the reader across the battlefields of our past to reflect upon the implications of conflicts being waged today.

Read with us – Buy here: Hear Our Defeats<

About the author

Laurent Gaudé is a French novelist and playwright. After being nominated for the 2002 Prix Concourt with The Death of King Tsongor, he won the award in 2004 for his novel The Sun of the Scorta.

Meet the translator – we have news

We have contacted Alison Anderson, the translator and although she lives in Switzerland, she often comes to Paris and she has agreed to meet with members to answer their questions, isn’t that fantastic? So watch out for a book club meeting a little later in the year.

2019 Book club – are you ready to read with us?

  • With us you can read the books the French are reading now – learn more about contemporary French literature, culture and thinking.
  • You can read with us in either English or French!
  • Have you heard of these authors already? Let us know below.
  • Our pace is designed for your busy lifestyle, as we read at a rate of only one book each two months.
  • You can be an online bookclub participant as we have multiple ways we help members engage.
  • You can find us on facebook (and we have a bookclub chat too) and you can also  find us on Goodreads.
  • Your reading suggestions are welcome as this list was created according to member feedback on our 2018 reading list.
  • If you are in Paris or just visiting, we’ll do our best to hold meetings while you are there. Be sure to let us know your Paris dates.
  • Below is a photo of some members discussing recently-translated French novels in Paris. This could be you…

Are you reading with us? Let us know in the comments section below.


Image credits
1. Colette, by bargainista89 via Flickr
2-4 via Amazon.com/books
5. Jacqueline Dubois Pasquier

About the Contributor

Jacqueline Dubois Pasquier

After teaching for 20 years abroad, I mostly live now in Paris, where I feel both like a native and an expat. I enjoy being part of My French Life™ as it makes my life in Paris even more meaningful and special. I have a passion for literature and movies. I share my thoughts in my blog and on twitter.”

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  1. Carolyne Lee Feb 6, 2019 at 2:51 PM - Reply

    This selection looks great! I will read them in French to maintain my fluency since I am so far away here in Melbourne. I have finished L’Ordre du Jour recently and would like to discuss that one, or have I missed the discussion?

  2. Mary R DeMaine Mar 2, 2020 at 7:27 AM - Reply

    I often have difficulty getting translated books in Minnesota. I’m hoping I’ll be able to get the books you are reading so I can join the conversation.

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