Friday, April 30, 2010

Pre-Paris Summer Reading List

The other day, my Paris Tour Guide sent me - and the others in our group - a suggested reading list of pertinent titles, with the thought that they would make good poolside/beachside/summer reading.

I already have A Moveable Feast by Ernest Hemmingway on my list. Now, I have to decide which of these to add. Time to make use of my Master's Degree in English Literature and go back to my voracious reading ways of youth, for today, I admit, I am one lousy book reader, preferring to poke around and search for material that interests me, encyclopedia-style, Googling my way across the Worldwide Web, flitting from topic to topic, sometimes just looking at the pictures and headlines ... much as I do when I read magazines and the newspapers ... only stopping to delve deeper if it's (a) Important or (b) a topic of Obsession - which changes from day to day in both categories.

Nevertheless, here's the list. Could I possibly read them all???? It would be a feat to rival my attempt at trying to learn how to speak French in any which way.

Any input from my dear followers or people passing through this blog re: which of the below book(s) is/are a MUST-read prior to (or even after) a trip to Paris, please, please, do chirp in. Thanks!

Abundance by Sena Jeter Naslund - which my Tour Guide says is "a great book about Marie Antoinette, one of my favorites!"

Marie Antoinette- the Last Queen of France by Evelyne Lever (no comment from my Tour Guide)

Almost French by Sarah Turnbull - which my tour Guide says is "an Australian journalist's account of establishing her life in Paris with the man she loves--ooh-la-la!"

Catherine de Medici-the Renaissance Queen of France by Leonie Frieda -my Tour Guide claims to have "learned so much French history from this book." 

The Serpent and the Moon by Princess Michael of Kent - "two rivals for the love of a Renaissance king---this will make you want to go to the chateaux of the Loire Valley," says my Tour Guide. I could pass this up since the Loire Valley is not on our immediate itinerary.

Sarah’s Key by Tatiana de Rosnay - "a story about a family during WWll Paris," says my Tour Guide. Mmmmmm, a little boring perhaps?


Melissa said...

A moveable feast... you'll treasure forever. I also like Almost French, une lecture très drôle!
May I suggest a novel by Dumas? He's a page-turner. Either the Count of Monte Cristo or the Three Musketeers novels (at least the first one).

Cathy said...

Haven't read any of these -- although "Sarah's Key" sounds like something I should look up when I'm at the library. I would also recommend (before or after your trip):

Antonia Fraser's biography of Marie Antoinette.

"My Life in France," by Julia Child.

Joanne Harris' "The Girl With No Shadow" -- her (much darker) sequel to "Chocolat" - which is set in Paris.

"Suite Francaise" is set in Paris during the Occupation. It is beautifully written, and the backstory and controversy surrounding the author (she died at Auschwicz) adds another dimension.

Karin (an alien parisienne) said...

I have to chime in about Sarah's Key. I think it is one of the single most touching books I have ever read about Paris. It is not just about WWII, it is about the Jewish roundups in Paris in the 1940s where the Vichy government cooperated with the Nazis to send Jews to extermination camps. It is also about an American woman in Paris researching the biggest roundup in Paris in July 1942, called the Vel' d'Hiv (it's got parallel stories that are interwoven into one novel). It's the 60th anniversary, and she is called upon to write a piece about it for her job. A mystery about the Roundup, to which she is connected, is revealed. It is so well-written, gripping, and poignant that it is not only one of my favorite books about Paris, but one of my all-time favorites, period. It's anything but boring, but it is very emotionally-intense and will probably have a strong emotional impact, so it's not one to read if you are feeling emotionally fragile. It is excellent, though.

Also, I loved Suite Française, too, along with Cathy, and I am reading the Antonia Fraser one now and it is excellent!

There is also a modern-day French author whom I like named Anna Gavalda. Her books have been translated into English and you might want to check them out.

Happy Reading, and thanks for the further suggestions in your post! :)

Elaine Biss Designs said...

I think you should watch Amelie. Not so much reading... :) But if you must read The Diary Of Anais Nin, Volume 2 (1934-1939)My favorite!

Jan Heigh said...

Absolutely read "Almost French" because it gives you an insight into how the French think and about more their culture.

The Armchair Parisian said...

As much as I enjoy learning about the history, I am not much on reading tomes of it. I like a little faster, more engaging reading :-) I have read "Almost French" & enjoyed it. Also agree with Cathy above about Joanne Harris' "The Girl With No Shadow" and "Chocolat" ~ both most excellent. If you don't mind a little racy, "Paris Hangover" is hilarious and offers a great insight into picking up and moving to Paris on a whim.

Not to plug my blog here, but I have a section called "Le Bookshop" that is chock full of reading suggestions, complete with handy links to Amazon to learn more about the books...

ParisBreakfasts said...

and watch MOVIES!!!

Golden Bra Straps said...

Amazing post!! i just love it!! Thank you for sharing your thoughts with us!!

From the BBC series on Paris, Blood and Chocolate (Part 2 of 3). Enjoy!

Streets of Paris - I shot this the day I left Paris, on a rainy September morning.

Small group Paris tours for women