Review: Death in Pont-Aven – Jean-Luc Bannalec

And what do we have here? The first novel in a crime series by a new French writer, Jean-Luc Bannalec? Well, not quite, for most literary journalists are agreed that M Bannelec is in fact Jörg Bong, a top German publisher who has been doing a bit of moon-lighting by creating the somewhat grumpy police [...]

Review: Severe – Régis Jauffret

I was pleased to hear about Salammbo Press, a new publisher dedicated to publishing “the works of great contemporary novelists celebrated in their own country, but as yet unknown to British readers”. Salammbo are publishing three books by French writer Régis Jauffret who has 18 books to his name and won the Prix Femina in [...]

Review: A Slight Misunderstanding – Prosper Mérimée

I have just been to see the film Les Miserables, a brilliantly produced gloom-fest (despite the best efforts of Sacha Baron Cohen and Helena Bonham Carter to lighten the tone). My response wasn’t quite as dramatic as that of the family in the viral video who left the cinema sobbing (hear the father say, [...]

Review (audio recording): Swann’s Way – Marcel Proust

Naxos, the renowned producer of classical music recordings is publishing a complete and unabridged recording of Marcel Proust’s epic work, Remembrance of Things Past (À la Recherche du Temps Perdu).

The reader is Neville Jason who Washington Post called “the marathon man” after his 70 hour recording of Tolstoy’s War and Peace. Jason is well [...]

Review: The Foundling – Agnès Desarthe

Jerome lives with his teenage daughter, Marina. His wife, Paula, left him some years ago, apparently through boredom and the desire to live a more exciting life than her marriage to a rural estate agent gave her. Jerome is a quiet, introspective man who takes a long time to let his feelings come to the [...]

Review: A Novel Bookstore – Laurence Cosse

As an avid reader I enjoy “books about books” and this one certainly falls into that category. Imagine a couple of lovers of literature who get the opportunity to open a book-shop which only sells “good” books, those which meet a criteria of literary worth, deliberately ignoring the current literary prizes and the year’s [...]

Review: Père Goriot – Honoré de Balzac

Like so many English people, I enjoy going to France and experiencing a country very different to my own. I live near a ferry port and often see ships sailing off to cross the Channel and I always experience a touch of yearning to be sailing to the land of good wine and different (I [...]

Review: Pierre et Jean – Guy de Maupassant

I have wanted to read more Guy de Maupassant for some time and my interest was confirmed by reading some of Guy Savage’s collection of de Maupassant articles on his blog.

I’d read quite a few of de Maupassant’s short stories of course, but not one of his novels, so Pierre et Jean seemed a [...]

Review: Sentimental Education – Gustave Flaubert

I sometimes like to read one of the French classics, so effective are they at reminding me of travels through that beautiful country, with all the pleasures of warmer weather than England, and the cultural and historical interest encountered on the way.

I don’t think there’s much point in writing my usual style of review [...]

Review: Hector and the Search for Happiness – François Lelord

My last review was a book about Michel Eyquem de Montaigne, whose “Essays”, written in the 16th century, have become classics of philosophy. We all know that the French have far more interest in philosophy than other nations, (just look at the lengthy Wikipedia list of French philosphers), and it is no surprise to discover [...]