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40+ Novels with French Connections - Fiction You Should Read This Summer for More than a Touch of Thierry’s Va Va Voom.

With Bastille Day celebrated on 14th July, there seems no better time to share our amour of French fiction. From contemporary novels with more Gallic gusto than you can shake a baguette at, to stories that sparkle like a flute of fine Champagne, to philosophical classics that exude all the elegance of Dior couture, this collection is a testament to French literary invention through the centuries - a veritable feast of fictional va-va-voom, if you will.

Françoise Sagan’s Bonjour, Tristesse and A Certain Smile figure high among my personal French-authored favourites - powerful, edgy coming-of-age classics that are impossible to put down. Esteemed contemporary authors you may already be au fait with include the smart thought-provoker Marie Darrieussecq, and the often controversial Michel Houellebecq. Then there are great Gallic writers who deserve to be more widely known. Take Sylvie Germain, for example, a multi-award-winning author in her native France who possesses a unique ability to conjure human desires and needs in worlds that feel both fairy-tale-esque and elementally real.

I adore Antoine Laurain’s novels too. Fans of funny, off-the-wall fiction really should read Vintage 1954 - a surreal contemporary masterpiece in which a bottle of vintage Beaujolais triggers a time-travel experience during which Edith Piaf and Audrey Hepburn appear. Another personal favourite is In Paris With You, an enthralling, sophisticated psychological novel of young love and heartbreak - it radiates a distinctly French vibe.

Of course, France is a perennial source of literary inspiration for non-nationals too. George Orwell’s first published novel was set in Paris and London. Jean Rhys’s Good Morning Midnight stories exquisitely capture the seedy bars and hotels of 1930s Paris, while Joanne Harris’s Chocolat and its sequels have captured the hearts of millions of readers around the globe.

For feel-good Parisian charm try The Little Paris Bookshop and Paris for One and Other Stories. If gripping thrillers are more your thing, you might enjoy Lies Behind the Ruin, which sees a financially troubled British couple relocate to rural France - with near catastrophic results.

If you fancy sharing your love of French flair with the little readers in your life, A Walk in Paris is a beautiful picture book to read aloud. What’s more, it’s packed with pretty Parisian details to pore over. Antoine de Saint-Exupéry’s The Little Prince (voted the best book of the twentieth-century in France, and one of the world’s most translated books) is a moving, magical, allegorical novella about what really matters that readers of 7+ (adults included) will fall in love with. Finally, for older readers (12+ through to adults), Jennifer Donnelly’s Revolution is an emotionally-charged mystery that takes in the events of the French Revolution as the turbulent lives of two teenagers connect across centuries. 

Bonne lecture!

Bonjour Tristesse and A Certain Smile

Bonjour Tristesse and A Certain Smile

Author: Francoise Sagan, Rachel Cusk, Rachel Cusk Format: Paperback Release Date: 04/04/2013

Sylish, shimmering and amoral, Sagan's tale of adolescence and betrayal on the French Riviera was her masterpiece, published when she was just eighteen. However, this frank and explicit novella was considered too daring for 1950s Britain, and sexual scenes were removed for the English publication. Now this fresh and accurate new translation presents the uncensored text in full for the first time. Bonjour Tristesse tells the story of Cecile, who leads a carefree life with her widowed father and his young mistresses until, one hot summer on the Riviera, he decides to remarry - with devastating consequences. In A Certain Smile, which is also included in this volume, Dominique, a young woman bored with her lover, begins an encounter with an older man that unfolds in unexpected and troubling ways. Both novellas have been freshly translated by Heather Lloyd and include an introduction by Rachel Cusk. Heather Lloyd has also written a new afterword for this edition. Francoise Sagan was born in France in 1935. Bonjour tristesse (1954), published when she was just 19, became a succès de scandale and even earned its author a papal denunciation. Sagan went on to write many other novels, plays and screenplays, and died in 2004.

Vintage 1954

Vintage 1954

Author: Antoine Laurain Format: Paperback Release Date: 20/06/2019

Romantic, wry and fragrant with the intoxicating bouquet of la vie Parisienne, this book will brighten the greyest of days with Gallic charme and enchantement. Paris, 2017, and Hubert invites a few associates to share a bottle of exquisite 1954 Beaujolais. Among his guests are American tourist Bob, and neighbour Julien. For Julien, 1954 has extra significance, for that was when an ancestor of his experienced “something extraordinary”. Namely, he sighted a flying saucer in a year that became known as “The Year of Flying Saucers” due to the prolific number of sightings. Next morning, each of Hubert’s guests themselves experience something extraordinary as they realise they’ve been transported to a Paris of the past, to a city in which citizens exchange lighthearted bonhomie on buses, and cafes allow patrons to “smoke with impunity”. Initially Bob amusingly muses that “despite globalisation, the French had not lost their soul!” Then it dawns on the wine-sharing group how they came to voyage through time: “when the flying saucer flew over, it changed the Saint-Antoine wine and since then whoever drinks it will go back to 1954”.    Despite enjoying a very pleasant sojourn in the past - encountering Audrey Hepburn in a bar, dining with Edith Piaf - the question is: how can they return to 2017? Driven by droll humour and romance, and with a miraculous climax, this is a fabulously full-bodied-book with crisply sweet undertones.

Smoking Kills

Smoking Kills

Author: Antoine Laurain Format: Paperback Release Date: 19/06/2018

How far would you go to enjoy a cigarette? When headhunter Fabrice Valentine faces a smoking ban at work, he decides to undertake a course of hypnotherapy to rid himself of the habit. At first the treatment works, but his stress levels begin to rise when he is passed over for an important promotion and he finds himself lighting up again - but with none of his previous enjoyment. Then he discovers something terrible: he accidentally causes a mans death, and needing a cigarette to calm his nerves, he enjoys it more than any other previous smoke. What if he now needs to kill someone every time he wants to properly appreciate his next Benson and Hedges? An original and totally French black comedy from bestselling author, Antoine Laurain.

Readers' Room

Readers' Room

Author: Antoine Laurain Format: Paperback Release Date: 22/09/2020

When the manuscript of a debut crime novel arrives at a Parisian publishing house, everyone in the readers' room is convinced it's something special. And the committee for France's highest literary honour, the Prix Goncourt, agrees. But when the shortlist is announced, there's a problem for editor Violaine Lepage: she has no idea of the author's identity. As the police begin to investigate a series of murders strangely reminiscent of those recounted in the book, Violaine is not the only one looking for answers. And, suffering memory blanks following an aeroplane accident, she's beginning to wonder what role she might play in the story ... Antoine Laurain, bestselling author of The Red Notebook, combines intrigue and charm in this dazzling novel of mystery, love and the power of books.

French Rhapsody

French Rhapsody

Author: Antoine Laurain Format: Paperback Release Date: 27/10/2016

The arrival of a letter delayed by 33 years sparks off a quest that leads both on a nostalgic journey back to the 1980s and right to the heart of France today. Middle-aged doctor Alain Massoulier has received a life-changing letter thirty-three years too late. Lost in the Paris postal system for decades, the letter from Polydor, dated 1983, offers a recording contract to The Holograms, in which Alain played lead guitar. Overcome by nostalgia, Alain is tempted to track down the members of the group. But in a world where everything and everyone has changed...where could his quest possibly take him? Both a modern fairytale and a skilfully woven state-of-the-nation novel, French Rhapsody combines Antoine Laurain's signature charm and whimsy with a searing critique of the state of contemporary France.

In Paris With You

In Paris With You

Author: Clementine Beauvais Format: Paperback Release Date: 06/06/2019

Cleverly and playfully-formed, this is a sophisticated, thought-provoking novel of love, heartbreak and second chances. Eugene and Tatiana are 27 and 24. They’re both unsettled by a fortuitous encounter on the Paris Metro ten years after they last met, and the significance of the moment is made potently clear when the omniscient narrator interjects, “Look how shaken they are to see each other again. Look at their eyes”. Throughout, the all-knowing narrator directs readers’ responses in this way, introducing episodes with foreshadowing commentaries that tell us what to watch out for. It’s the narrator who announces “it’s time to go back about ten years into the past, back where it all began.” And so we’re presented with the origin of their connection, when Tatiana was a self-conscious bookish fourteen-year-old, and Eugene was the enigmatic, pessimistic seventeen-year-old friend of her older sister’s boyfriend. The narrative slips between the frisson of their re-acquaintance and the tragedy that struck their teenage years. In some ways, reading this is like observing an intense play. In others, it’s like being granted access to Eugene and Tatiana’s innermost thoughts, anxieties and desires through their impassioned soliloquies. In every way, it’s a unique and emotionally honest portrait of the grip and ache of young love.

Books of the Month
Let Me Tell You About a Man I Knew

Let Me Tell You About a Man I Knew

Author: Susan Fletcher Format: Paperback Release Date: 01/06/2017

This soulful portrait of a woman’s friendship with Van Gogh, imagined from letters exchanged between the artist and his brother, is a richly-rewarding reverie about longing, loneliness and renewing life. Jeanne is an outsider in her Provencal village. She and her husband, Charles, live in the warden’s cottage of a psychiatric hospital, which renders her “too close to lunacy” for the other wives to feel safe, while she also feels invisible to Charles. Jeanne had loved the joy of discovering “new, small pleasures”, but she and Charles have slept apart for twenty years, and life is “ordered, disciplined”. Then a Dutchman arrives, the asylum’s first new patient in years, and Jeanne is immediately drawn to him, to this red-haired artist who is “not like other men”. Disobeying her husband, Jeanne watches Vincent paint, and his presence, his art, his “strong unwashed smell” heighten her restlessness. “Where is my wife?” Charles wonders, noticing a change in Jeanne, and yet there she is, dressed in the dazzling sunshine-yellow dress she last wore in her youth, radiating the promise of being seen anew, and of living life afresh. The descriptions of Van Gogh’s familiar works (“yellow swirled stars...that seem to move above the little sleeping town”), and the Provencal landscape are glorious, while the unsettled landscape of Jeanne’s heart is evoked with affecting poignancy. Truly a novel to pore over and savour. ~ Joanne Owen

eBooks of the Month
Madame Bovary

Madame Bovary

Author: Gustave Flaubert Format: Hardback Release Date: 21/09/2017

Beautiful Emma Bovary dreams of love and riches but her marriage to Charles, a dull country doctor, is far from satisfying. In an attempt to escape the narrow confines of her life, she embarks on a series of passionate affairs, hoping to find the romantic ideal she always dreamed about in the arms of other men, but it soon becomes clear that she is hurtling towards tragedy . . . Gustave Flaubert's daring portrait of adultery caused a national scandal when Madame Bovary was first published, and this masterpiece of realist literature has lost none of its impact today. This beautiful Macmillan Collector's Library edition of Madame Bovary is translated by Eleanor Marx Aveling and features an afterword by the playwright, screenwriter and actor, Peter Harness. Designed to appeal to the booklover, the Macmillan Collector's Library is a series of beautiful gift editions of much-loved classic titles. Macmillan Collector's Library are books to love and treasure.

(L'Etranger) The Outsider

(L'Etranger) The Outsider

Author: Albert Camus Format: Paperback Release Date: 15/09/2018

Camus' sparse parable about the human condition is one of the great stories of the 20th Century, here adapted for the stage by Booker prize winner Ben Okri. A faceless man who can no longer pretend, Mersault commits a senseless murder under the glare of the Algerian sun. On trial he feels distanced from proceedings, he is castigated for not expressing remorse, for not crying at his mother's funeral, and is forced to confront the hypocrisy and injustice of society. In an age where we are being increasingly told what to feel, The Outsider is a blast of uncompromising honesty. Albert Camus, French novelist, essayist, philosopher and Nobel laureate, was one of the most influential thinkers of the 20th Century. Ben Okri, author of The Famished Road, is one of contemporary literature's most important writers. This adaption brings them together for a rare dramatisation of one of modern literature's most celebrated works.

The Lover

The Lover

Author: Marguerite Duras Format: Paperback Release Date: 16/01/2006

May 2011 Guest Editor Carol Drinkwater on The Lover... Set in French-occupied Indochina during the 1930s, it recounts an illicit love affair between an adolescent school girl and the suave son of a rich Chinese businessman. Duras claimed it to be autobiographical. Perhaps. No matter it is lyrical, erotic, precocious, evocative. Secreted in a small room, traffic noises creeping through the shutters, this unlikely couple indulge themselves in forbidden love. A slender finally-crafted jewel.

eBooks of the Month
The Woman Destroyed

The Woman Destroyed

Author: Simone de Beauvoir Format: Paperback Release Date: 16/01/2006

Best known for her seminal feminist classic, The Second Sex, Simone de Beauvoir was also an exquisitely sharp writer of fiction, and The Woman Destroyed shows her story-writing talents at their sharpest. First published in 1967, it features three short novellas that each show a woman trapped by her situation, each laced with affecting details of daily life. ‘The Age of Discretion’ sees a successful academic struggling to come to terms with aging as her latest work is rejected. There’s such passion, such desperation, such edgy hope. The second story, ‘The Monologue’, is a woman’s impassioned New Year’s Eve outburst in the aftermath of her son and husband leaving, while ‘The Woman Destroyed’ sees Monique struggling to rebuild her life and identity after her husband confesses to an affair with a younger woman. Though frozen by fear, “The door to the future will open. Slowly. Unrelentingly. I am on the threshold.” Piercingly brilliant. Visit our 'Women's Words - 60+ works of feminist-minded fiction' to explore our collection of feminist-minded fiction from around the world, and across centuries.

She Came to Stay

She Came to Stay

Author: Simone de Beauvoir Format: Paperback Release Date: 16/01/2006

Written as an act of revenge against the 17 year-old who came between her and Jean-Paul Sartre, She Came to Stay is Simone de Beauvoir's first novel - a lacerating study of a young, naive couple in love and the usurping woman who comes between them. 'It is impossible to talk about faithfulness and unfaithfulness where we are concerned. You and I are simply one. Neither of us can be described without the other.' It was unthinkable that Pierre and Francoise should ever tire of each other. And yet, both talented and restless, they constantly feel the need for new sensations, new people. Because of this they bring the young, beautiful and irresponsible Xaviere into their life who, determined to take Pierre for herself, drives a wedge between them, with unforeseeable, disastrous consequences... Published in 1943, 'She Came to Stay' is Simone de Beauvoir's first novel. Written as an act of revenge against the woman who nearly destroyed her now legendary, unorthodox relationship with the philosopher Jean-Paul Sartre, it fictionalises the events of 1935, when Sartre became infatuated with seventeen-year old Olga Bost, a pupil and devotee of de Beauvoir's. Passionately eloquent, coolly and devastatingly ironic, 'She Came to Stay' is one of the most extraordinary and powerful pieces of fictional autobiography of the twentieth century, in which de Beauvoir's 'tears for her characters freeze as they drop.'

The Immoralist

The Immoralist

Author: Andre Gide, Alan Sheridan Format: Paperback Release Date: 04/05/2000

'To know how to free oneself is nothing; the arduous thing is to know what to do with one's freedom' - Andre Gide. Michel had been a blindfold scholar until, newly married, he contracted tuberculosis. His will to recover brings self-discovery and the growing desire to rebel against his background of culture, decency and morality. But the freedom from constraints that Michel finds on his restless travels is won at great cost. And freedom itself, he finds, can be a burden. Gide's novel examines the inevitable conflicts that arise when a pleasure seeker challenges conventional society and, without moralizing, it raises complex issues involving the extent of personal responsibility.

eBooks of the Month
The Beast Within

The Beast Within

Author: Emile Zola Format: Paperback Release Date: 29/11/2007

His haunting, impressionistic study of a man's slow corruption by jealousy, Emile Zola's The Beast Within (La Bete Humaine) is translated from the French with an introduction and notes by Roger Whitehouse in Penguin Classics. Roubaud is consumed by a jealous rage when he discovers a sordid secret about his young wife's past. The only way he can rest is by forcing her to help him murder the man involved, but there is a witness - Jacques Lantier, a fellow railway employee. Jacques, meanwhile, must contend with his own terrible impulses, for every time he sees a woman he feels the overwhelming desire to kill. In the company of Roubaud's wife, Severine, he finds peace briefly, yet his feelings for her soon bring disasterous consequences. A key work in the Rougon-Macquart cycle, The Beast Within is one of Zola's most dark and violent works - a tense thriller of political corruption and a graphic exploration of the criminal mind. Roger Whitehouse's vivid translation is accompanied by an introduction discussing Zola's depiction of the railways, politics and the legal system and the influence of the studies of criminology and the Jack the Ripper murders on his novel. This edition also includes a chronology, suggestions for further reading and notes. Emile Zola (1840-1902) was the leading figure in the French school of naturalistic fiction. His principal work, Les Rougon-Macquart, is a panorama of mid-19th century French life, in a cycle of 20 novels which Zola wrote over a period of 22 years, including Au Bonheur des Dames (1883), The Beast Within (1890), Nana (1880), and The Drinking Den (1877). If you enjoyed The Beast Within, you might like Zola's The Drinking Den, also available in Penguin Classics.

Therese Raquin

Therese Raquin

Author: Emile Zola Format: Paperback Release Date: 29/07/2004

Perhaps his most famous work, Emile Zola's Therese Raquin is a dark and gripping story of lust, violence and guilt, set in the gloomy back streets of Paris. This Penguin Classics edition is translated with notes and an introduction by Robin Buss. In the claustrophobic atmosphere of a dingy haberdasher's shop on the Passage du Pont-Neuf in Paris, Therese Raquin is trapped in a loveless marriage to her sickly cousin, Camille. The numbing tedium of her life is suddenly shattered when she embarks on a turbulent affair with her husband's earthy friend Laurent, but their animal passion for each other soon compels the lovers to commit a crime that will haunt them forever. Therese Raquin caused a scandal when it appeared in 1867 and brought its twenty-seven-year-old author a notoriety that followed him throughout his life. Zola's novel is not only an uninhibited portrayal of adultery, madness and ghostly revenge, but also a devastating exploration of the darkest aspects of human existence. Robin Buss's translation superbly conveys Zola's fearlessly honest and matter-of-fact style. In his introduction, he discusses Zola's life and literary career, and the influence of art, literature and science on his writing. This edition also includes the preface to the second edition of 1868, a chronology, further reading and notes.

In Search of Lost Time: Swann's Way

In Search of Lost Time: Swann's Way

Author: Marcel Proust Format: Paperback Release Date: 14/06/2021

With its sweeping digressions into the past and reflections on the nature of memory, Proust's oceanic novel In Search of Lost Time looms over twentieth-century literature as one of the greatest, yet most endlessly challenging, literary experiences. Influencing writers like Virginia Woolf and James Joyce, and even anticipating Albert Einstein in its philosophical explorations of space and time, In Search of Lost Time is a monumental achievement and reading it is a rite of passage for any serious lover of literature. Now, in what renowned translator Arthur Goldhammer says might be likened to a piano reduction of an orchestral score, the French illustrator Stephane Heuet re-presents Proust in graphic form for anyone who has always dreamed of reading him but was put off by the sheer magnitude of the undertaking. This New York Times best-selling graphic adaptation reveals the fundamental architecture of Proust's work while displaying a remarkable fidelity to his language as well as the novel's themes of time, art, and the elusiveness of memory. As Goldhammer writes in his introduction, The reader new to Proust must attend closely, even in this compressed rendering, to the novel's circling rhythms and abrupt cross-cuts between different places and times. But this necessary attentiveness is abetted and facilitated by the compactness of the graphic format. In this first volume, Swann's Way, the narrator Marcel, an aspiring writer, recalls his childhood when-in a now-immortal moment in literature-the taste of a madeleine cake dipped in tea unleashes a torrent of memories about his family's country home in the town of Combray. Here, Heuet and Goldhammer use Proust's own famously rich and labyrinthine sentences and discerning observations to render Combray like never before. From the water lilies of the Vivonne to the steeple and stained glass of the town church, Proust's language provides the blueprint for Heuet's illustrations. Heuet and Goldhammer also capture Proust's humor, wit, and sometimes scathing portrayals of Combray's many memorable inhabitants, like the lovelorn Charles Swann and the object of his affection and torment, Odette de Crecy; Swann's daughter, Gilberte; local aristocrat the Duchesse de Guermantes; the narrator's uncle Adolphe; and the hypochondriac Aunt Leonie. Including a Proust family tree, a glossary of terms, and a map of Paris, this graphic adaptation is a surprising and useful companion piece to Proust's masterpiece for both the initiated and those seeking an introduction.

Sodom and Gomorrah

Sodom and Gomorrah

Author: Marcel Proust Format: Hardback Release Date: 10/08/2021

An authoritative new edition of the fourth volume in Marcel Proust's epic masterwork, In Search of Lost Time series Marcel Proust's monumental seven-part novel In Search of Lost Time is considered by many to be the greatest novel of the twentieth century. The fourth volume, Sodom and Gomorrah, is notable for its pioneering discussion of homosexuality. After its publication, Colette wrote to Proust, No one has written pages such as these on homosexuals, no one! This edition is edited and annotated by noted Proust scholar William C. Carter, who endeavors to bring the classic C. K. Scott Moncrieff translation closer to the spirit and style of the original.

The Hunchback of Notre Dame

The Hunchback of Notre Dame

Author: Victor Hugo Format: Hardback Release Date: 29/04/2021

A fine exclusive edition of one of literature's most beloved stories. Featuring a laser-cut jacket on a textured book with foil stamping, all titles in this series will be first editions. No more than 10,000 copies will be printed, and each will be individually numbered from 1 to 10,000. It was one of those spring days which possesses so much sweetness and beauty, that all Paris turns out into the squares and promenades and celebrates them as though they were Sundays. A mad priest, a vagabond playwright, a social-climbing soldier, and a misshapen bell-ringer-all are captivated and intrigued by a gypsy girl's beauty and charm. Who will betray her, and who will remain loyal, even beneath the shadow of the gallows? This motley group of outlaws finds sanctuary within the walls of medieval Paris' greatest monument, the grand Cathedral of Notre Dame.

The Ogre

The Ogre

Author: Michel Tournier Format: Paperback Release Date: 18/04/1997

An international bestseller and winner of the Prix Goncourt, France's most prestigious literary award, The Ogre is a masterful tale of innocence, perversion, and obsession. It follows the passage of strange, gentle Abel Tiffauges from submissive schoolboy to ogre of the Nazi school at the castle of Kaltenborn, taking us deeper into the dark heart of fascism than any novel since The Tin Drum. Until the very last page, when Abel meets his mystic fate in the collapsing ruins of the Third Reich, it shocks us, dazzles us, and above all holds us spellbound.

Down and Out in Paris and London

Down and Out in Paris and London

Author: George Orwell Format: Paperback Release Date: 07/01/2021

Three francs will feed you till tomorrow, and you cannot think further than that... As a young man struggling to find his voice as a writer, George Orwell left the comfort of home to live in the impoverished working districts of Paris and London. He would document both the chaos and boredom of destitution, the eccentric cast of characters he encountered, and the near-constant pains of hunger and discomfort. Exposing the grim reality of a life marred by poverty, Down and Out in Paris and London, part memoir, part social commentary, would become George Orwell's first published work.

The Little Paris Bookshop

The Little Paris Bookshop

Author: Nina George Format: Paperback Release Date: 31/12/2015

The international bestseller, translated from the German by Simon Pare. On a beautifully restored barge on the Seine, Jean Perdu runs a bookshop; or rather a 'literary apothecary', for this bookseller possesses a rare gift for sensing which books will soothe the troubled souls of his customers. The only person he is unable to cure, it seems, is himself. He has nursed a broken heart ever since the night, twenty-one years ago, when the love of his life fled Paris, leaving behind a handwritten letter that he has never dared read. His memories and his love have been gathering dust - until now. The arrival of an enigmatic new neighbour in his eccentric apartment building on Rue Montagnard inspires Jean to unlock his heart, unmoor the floating bookshop and set off for Provence, in search of the past and his beloved.

Chocolat

Chocolat

Author: Joanne Harris Format: Paperback Release Date: 02/03/2000

Into a small rural French village comes a mysterious woman, Vianne, her young daughter and the child’s invisible rabbit.  They open a chocolate shop opposite the church.  It is Lent and a strange war breaks out between the church and the shop.  In alternating chapters between the priest and Vianne we are given views of good and evil, temptation and righteousness and a thought-provoking story unfolds.  This is quite delicious, all of it – the villager’s and their secrets, the Frenchness of it all and the chocolate.  A far greater book than the film.   A "Piece of Passion" from the publisher... ‘I’ve always believed you can’t go wrong with love and chocolate: and this deliciously has both. This is a novel which is totally irresistible, because it works on so many different levels: there’s the lovely  French setting, the sensuousness of the food and  the seriousness of the underlying themes, mixed with a dash of magic, a pinch of ancient wisdom, plus gentle humour and a clear-eyed insight into the most repressed of emotions.  Joanne Harris has gone on to write a whole string of bestsellers, often sensuous, sometimes chilling, always surprising – but Chocolat remains the one she is best-known for, and most-loved, too.' Marianne Velmans, Publishing Director at Transworld

eBooks of the Month
The Lollipop Shoes

The Lollipop Shoes

Author: Joanne Harris Format: Paperback Release Date: 21/04/2008

The much anticipated sequel to Chocolat, The Lollipop Shoes is set 5 years after we left Vianne and her daughter Anouk. Vianne now has another daughter and the three of them live in Montmartre. Vianne has changed their names, given up her magical ways and stopped making chocolate, that is until a stranger blows in to town and gradually persuades Vianne to regain her chocolate making skills. Joanne Harris is on top form and it is a delight to re-visit these characters. Prepare for a battle of wills and magical skills as good and evil fight it out to the end. Enchanting.   If you would like to read more books set in and around Paris, then go to the fabulous City-Lit Guide to Paris where you will find a plethora of titles featured.

eBooks of the Month
The Elegance of the Hedgehog

The Elegance of the Hedgehog

Author: Muriel Barbery Format: Paperback Release Date: 01/05/2009

Rene is the concierge of a grand Parisian apartment building. She maintains a carefully constructed persona as someone uncultivated but reliable, in keeping with what she feels a concierge should be. But beneath this facade lies the real Rene: passionate about culture and the arts, and more knowledgeable in many ways than her employers with their outwardly successful but emotionally void lives. Down in her lodge, apart from weekly visits by her one friend Manuela, Rene lives with only her cat for company. Meanwhile, several floors up, twelve-year-old Paloma Josse is determined to avoid the pampered and vacuous future laid out for her, and decides to end her life on her thirteenth birthday. But unknown to them both, the sudden death of one of their privileged neighbours will dramatically alter their lives forever. By turns moving and hilarious, this unusual and insightful novel is now an international publishing sensation, with sales of over 10 million copies.

All the Light We Cannot See

All the Light We Cannot See

Author: Anthony Doerr Format: Hardback Release Date: 08/05/2014

The epic new novel, set during WW2, from Sunday Times Short Story Prize-winner Anthony Doerr. Marie-Laure has been blind since the age of six. Her father builds a perfect miniature of their Paris neighbourhood so she can memorize it by touch and navigate her way home. But when the Nazis invade, father and daughter flee with a dangerous secret. Werner is a German orphan, destined to labour in the same mine that claimed his father's life, until he discovers a knack for engineering. His talent wins him a place at a brutal military academy, but his way out of obscurity is built on suffering. At the same time, far away in a walled city by the sea, an old man discovers new worlds without ever setting foot outside his home. But all around him, impending danger closes in. Doerr's combination of soaring imagination and meticulous observation is electric. As Europe is engulfed by war and lives collide unpredictably, 'All The Light We Cannot See' is a captivating and devastating elegy for innocence.

Books of the Month
Paris Metro

Paris Metro

Author: Wendell Steavenson Format: Paperback Release Date: 26/02/2019

From the American invasion of Iraq in 2003 to the terrorist attacks in Paris in 2015, Paris Metro is a story of East meets West. Kit, a reporter, has spent several years after 9/11 living in the Middle East, working as a correspondent for an American newspaper. Along the way she falls in love and marries a charismatic Iraqi diplomat named Ahmed, before their separation leaves Kit raising their teenage son alone in Paris. But after the Charlie Hebdo attack occurs and, a few months later, terrorists storm the Bataclan, Kit's core beliefs are shattered. The violence she had spent years covering abroad is now on her doorstep. As Kit struggles with her grief and confusion, she begins to mistrust those closest to her: her friends, her husband, even her own son.

A Week in Paris

A Week in Paris

Author: Rachel Hore Format: Paperback Release Date: 09/10/2014

A compelling story of war, secrets, family and history that will draw you into the heart of Paris and its troubled past. Paris, 1937. Kitty Travers enrols at the Conservatoire on the banks of the Seine to pursue her dream of becoming a concert pianist. Soon she is swept off her feet by a handsome American doctor and starts a new life as a married woman. But what was a place of love and peace quickly becomes a prison after war breaks out and the city of light falls into shadow. Nearly twenty-five years later, Fay Knox, a talented young violinist, visits Paris on tour with her orchestra. She barely knows the city, so why does it feel so familiar? Soon touches of memory become something stronger, and she realises her connection with these streets runs deeper than she ever expected. As Fay traces the past, with only an address in an old rucksack to help her, she discovers dark secrets hidden years ago, secrets that cause her to question who she is and where she belongs...

eBooks of the Month
Perfume

Perfume

Author: Patrick Suskind Format: Paperback Release Date: 06/02/2020

Jean-Baptiste Grenouille is abandoned on the filthy streets of eighteenth-century Paris as a baby, but grows up to discover he has an extraordinary gift: a sense of smell more powerful than any other human's. Gradually he learns how to exploit this gift in the art of creating the most sublime perfumes in France. Yet there is one scent he cannot capture: the scent of an innocent young virgin. In order to perfect his experiments, he must have this final ingredient, at any cost. A cult international bestseller, Perfume is a bewitching, darkly humorous fable of desire, obsession and death.

The Red Notebook

The Red Notebook

Author: Antoine Laurain Format: Hardback Release Date: 30/11/2017

Bookseller Laurent Letellier comes across an abandoned handbag on a Parisian street, and feels impelled to return it to its owner. The bag contains no money, phone or contact information. But a small red notebook with handwritten thoughts and jottings reveals a person that Laurent would very much like to meet. Without even a name to go on, and only a few of her possessions to help him, how is he to find one woman in a city of millions?

The House in Paris

The House in Paris

Author: Elizabeth Bowen Format: Paperback Release Date: 14/05/1998

WITH AN INTRODUCTION BY A.S. BYATT When eleven-year-old Henrietta arrives at the Fishers' residence in Paris, little does she know what fascinating secrets the house itself contains. Henrietta finds that her visit coincides with that of Leopold, an intense child who has come to Paris to be introduced to the mother he has never known. In the course of a single day, the mystery surrounding Leopold, his parents, Henrietta's agitated hostess and the dying matriarch in bed upstairs, come to light slowly and tantalisingly.

The Paris Wife

The Paris Wife

Author: Paula McLain Format: Paperback Release Date: 05/01/2012

Featured on The Book Show on Sky Arts on 28 April 2011. A heart-wrenching story of ambition and betrayal that captures a remarkable period of time and a love affair between two unforgettable people: Ernest Hemingway and his first wife Hadley - will be heralded as a classic and great love story.

eBooks of the Month
Paris for One and Other Stories

Paris for One and Other Stories

Author: Jojo Moyes Format: Paperback Release Date: 19/10/2017

I love short stories, they have the power to give us a fleeting, yet memorable glimpse into other lives. Lives of strong, beautiful characters as they face the challenges that life throws at them, each in search of a little piece of happiness. This collection from Jojo Moyes manages to do that perfectly. They are light and yet there is an underlying significance about them that resonates, that we can relate to. The characters are likeable but not without their flaws and in this Moyes expertly gives them a realistic, human touch. As each of us can be, they are vulnerable, feel pain, sorrow, disappointment, love, happiness and have their own difficulties to overcome. This was a real treat to read. The stories were of variable length yet enough for me to learn a little from each shared experience. I locked myself away in the bathroom and before I knew it the bath water was cold and I resembled a prune, so absorbed was I in these wonderful stories. Another delightful treat from Jojo Moyes. Find yourself a quiet spot and enjoy. ~ Shelley Fallows

eBooks of the Month
One Paris Summer

One Paris Summer

Author: Denise Grover Swank Format: Paperback Release Date: 28/07/2016

New York Times bestseller! In this romantic coming-of-age YA novel, Sophie Brooks agrees to spend the summer with her father and his soon-to-be new wife, as well as share a room with her stepmom's daughter, Camille. But what should be a lovely time in the City of Lights, preparing for her audition at the prestigious French music academy she's dreamed of attending, becomes a nightmare due to the lack of a piano and less than sisterly relations ... until the attractive boy next door invites Sophie to practice at his home. But just as everything is looking up, Sophie's first love--and musical future--are in danger. One Paris Summer: Is a perfect escape read for teens and fans of contemporary YA romance Combines the complexities of blended families and finding your own path in life with the thrills of falling in love for the first time Will appeal to fans of Sarah Dessen, Jenny Han, and Stephanie Perkins

Paris Adrift

Paris Adrift

Author: E. J. Swift Format: Paperback Release Date: 06/02/2020

The Time Machine meet Midnight In Paris Determined to escape her old life, misfit and student geologist Hallie packs up her life in England and heads to Paris. As a bartender at the notorious Millie's, located next to the Moulin Rouge, she meets Gabriela, who guides her through this strange nocturnal world, and begins to find a new family. But Millie's is not all that it seems: a bird warns Hallie to get her feathers in order, a mysterious woman shows up claiming to be a chronometrist, and Gabriela is inexplicably unable to leave Paris. Then Hallie discovers a time portal located in the keg room. Over the next nine months, irate customers will be the least of her concerns as she navigates time-faring through the city's turbulent past and future, falling in love, and coming to terms with her own precarious sense of self.

Lies Behind The Ruin

Lies Behind The Ruin

Author: Helen Matthews Format: Paperback Release Date: 25/04/2019

This highly readable slice of suspenseful noir sees a couple on the brink of losing everything. Emma thought she had it all with second husband Paul - a big house, new daughter Mollie, a fine step-dad for her son from her first marriage. But Paul’s been hiding things from her, not least the debts he’s been racking up, and the seriousness of his work situation. Forced to come clean (about some of his misdemeanors, at least) when he’s made redundant, they escape to the dilapidated French property Paul randomly bought during a holiday.   While Paul flits between France and London - ostensibly for work - resourceful Emma turns things around by making a go of a bar business in their new village. But her blossoming is thwarted when a glamorous stranger infiltrates her life and a hideous web of deceit, blackmail, entrapment and violence unravels with heart-pounding urgency that will have readers rooting for Emma every step of the way. This is a real read-in-one-sitting-on-the-edge-of-your-seat kind of book.  

Books of the Month
Scent

Scent

Author: Isabel Costello Format: Paperback Release Date: 01/04/2021

When Clementine and Edouard's last child leaves home, the cracks in their marriage become impossible to ignore. Her work as a perfumer is no longer providing solace and her sense of self is withering. Then, her former lover resurfaces, decades after the end of their bisexual affair, and her world tilts irreversibly. Set in Paris and Provence, this is an intimate portrait of a woman navigating conflicting desires and a troubled past whilst dreaming of a fulfilling future.

Days of Anger

Days of Anger

Author: Sylvie Germain Format: Paperback Release Date: 20/10/1993

Deep in the forests of Moran, far from civilization, live families of woodcutters and shepherds. A remote and beautiful world, it is a place where madness still reigns, murder occurs, and bloody punishments are delivered. What has happened to the body of the sensual and beautiful Catherine Corvol, wife of a rich landowner, killed not out of hatred but an excess of love? Around this central enigma, Germain has created a gothic enchantment, a dazzling rural fantasy rich in angels, obsession, and revenge where the reader is carried forward as much by the lyricism and strangeness of the language as by the macabre and fantastic turns of the plot.

Submission

Submission

Author: Michel Houellebecq Format: Paperback Release Date: 01/09/2016

The new novel by the enfant terrible of European writing proves as controversial as its much-debated predecessors and will have readers and critics arguing for ages yet again. The as-ever-Houellebecq-like alter ego narrator is a minor middle-aged academic whose weasely ways are familiar in his politically incorrect attitudes to women, race and a form of intellectual superiority and pretentions that are terribly French. When a pro-Muslim politician wins the elections, and the country is overtaken by a revolutionary wave of Islamic fervour and purges, he is unable to retreat from his studies of a particularly arcane figure of French literature Joris K. Huysmans and soon has to take a stand, and willingly embraces the betrayal of western ideals with abandon, insofar as it will lead to professional advancement beyond his worth and possible power over women he was previously unable to seduce and obtain. A striking portrait in cowardice and compromise that will have you squirming, stylishly rendered by Paris Review editor Lorin Stein's fluid translation that transforms the mechanics of a particularly Gallic political landscape and cultural background into something more universal and understandable, and turns the book into a worrying warning bell, behind the facade of its dislikable and treacherous hero of sorts. A book you'll love to hate. ~ Maxim Jakubowski

eBooks of the Month
The Possibility of an Island

The Possibility of an Island

Author: Michel Houellebecq Format: Paperback Release Date: 03/07/2006

The new novel from the bestselling, highly acclaimed and always controversial author of Atomised.

eBooks of the Month
Atomised

Atomised

Author: Michel Houellebecq Format: Paperback Release Date: 01/03/2001

Half-brothers Michel and Bruno have a mother in common but little else. Michel is a molecular biologist, a thinker and idealist, a man with no erotic life to speak of and little in the way of human society. Bruno, by contrast, is a libertine, though more in theory than in practice, his endless lust is all too rarely reciprocated. Both are symptomatic members of our atomised society, where religion has given way to shallow 'new age' philosophies and love to meaningless sexual connections. Atomised tells the stories of the two brothers, but the real subject of the novel is the dismantling of contemporary society and its assumptions, its political incorrectness, and its caustic and penetrating asides on everything from anthropology to the problem pages of girls' magazines. A dissection of modern lives and loves. By turns funny, acid, infuriating, didactic, touching and visceral.

The Collected Short Stories

The Collected Short Stories

Author: Jean Rhys Format: Paperback Release Date: 06/04/2017

New to Penguin Classics, the remarkable, devastating collected stories by the author of Wide Sargasso Sea. Some of Jean Rhys's most powerful writing is to be found in this rich, dark collection of her collected stories. Her fictional world is haunted by her own, painful memories: of cheap hotels and drab Parisian cafes; of devastating love affairs; of her childhood in Dominica; of drifting through European cities, always on the periphery and always perilously close to the abyss. Rendered in extraordinarily vivid, honest prose, these stories show Rhys at the height of her literary powers and offer a fascinating counterpoint to her most famous novel, Wide Sargasso Sea. This volume includes all the stories from her three collections,The Left Bank (1927), Tigers Are Better-Looking (1968) and Sleep It Off, Lady (1976).

Good Morning, Midnight

Good Morning, Midnight

Author: Jean Rhys Format: Paperback Release Date: 04/08/2016

Saved, rescued, fished-up, half-drowned, out of the deep, dark river, dry clothes, hair shampooed and set... Set in a 1930s Paris of shabby hotel rooms, seedy bars and drunken encounters, Jean Rhys's semi-autobiographical portrayal of a young woman's sexual encounters is a searingly honest exploration of loneliness and yearning. Ten new titles in the colourful, small-format, portable new Pocket Penguins series

Pig Tales

Pig Tales

Author: Marie Darrieussecq Format: Paperback Release Date: 05/06/2003

Pig Tales is a brilliant satirical novel about a stunning young woman working in a beauty 'massage' parlour. She enjoys extraordinary success at bringing home the bacon (in part due to her increasingly rosy and irresistible backside) until she slowly metamorphoses - into a pig. Rejected by her boyfriend, left to wander the sewers and forage for food in public parks, she takes up with a werewolf with insatiable appetites. They share everything (pizza is a particular favourite; she gets the pizza, he gets the delivery boy) until someone alerts the authorities and tragedy strikes . . . Gender, politics and social hypocrisy all come under scrutiny in this entertaining and enlightening novel. Pig Tales is a Metamorphosis for the present day, a dark fable of political and sexual corruption, and a grim warning of what can happen in a society without a soul.

My Phantom Husband

My Phantom Husband

Author: Marie Darrieussecq Format: Paperback Release Date: 03/07/2000

What would you think if your husband, one day, with no word of explanation or warning, vanished? When would you begin to panic - the first hour, the first night? A deceptively simple story about a deserted woman, My Phantom Husbandis Marie Darrieussecq's eerie follow-up to Pig Tales, showing her to be a writer of great subtlety and depth. When her husband goes to buy fresh bread and never returns, the young narrator's life changes for ever. Night after night she has to learn to be alone, to sleep alone, to live in a space she has shared with a man for seven years. Yet who was he, her husband, and did they really have much in common? Why can't she remember her love for him - or even what he looked like? Dragged into a world of visions, she is besieged by childhood terrors - monsters behind the furniture, vampires floating around in the dark, strangers walking in other rooms. She begins to see her husband, or an apparition of him. Is he a supernatural visitation or the product of madness - or a figment of her guilty conscience? My Phantom Husband is a profoundly unsettling parable about the way love appears and disappears, about the absences and evasions that can lie hidden in any relationship.

A Walk in Paris

A Walk in Paris

Author: Salvatore Rubbino Format: Paperback Release Date: 05/03/2015

Illustrator Salvatore Rubbino brings Paris alive in this brilliant sequel to A Walk in New York and A Walk in London. A young girl and her grandfather set out to explore Paris. There is so much to look at and so much to learn about the buildings and how they were designed. The illustrations are packed full of wonderful details especially about the architecture but not forgetting the delicious food that can so easily be found in Paris. Readers will feel they have been in Paris – almost! – especially when they reach the amazing fold out Eiffel Tower.

Revolution

Revolution

Author: Jennifer Donnelly Format: Paperback Release Date: 03/10/2011

Prize-winning Jennifer Donnelly’s spell-binding tale spans two contrasting worlds separated by two hundred years but linked by a teenager’s thrilling quest to save a young prince. To get over the tragic death of her brother, Andi is taken off to Paris by her father. Soon she is swept back in time into the chaos and terror of the French Revolution where she becomes the mysterious and courageous Alexandrine. How present day Andi comes to terms with her own problems through her understanding of another’s is a heart rending story shot through with romance.  Jennifer is the author of the hugely successful and prize winning A Gathering Light.

eBooks of the Month
The Little Prince

The Little Prince

Author: Antoine De Saint-Exupery Format: Hardback Release Date: 07/09/2018

“All grown-ups were children once, although few of them remember it”. So writes author Antoine de Saint-Exupéry in the dedication of this remarkable novella; a poignant line that epitomises The Little Prince’s cross-generational power and continued resonance. If you’re looking for a literary-gift-of-a-lifetime for any little and not-so-little ones in your life, look no further than this Wordsworth Collector’s Edition of an undisputed twentieth-century classic.  Published in 1943, The Little Prince tells the unforgettable tale of a young boy with golden hair and a habit of repeating questions until they are answered. Known as the “little prince”, the boy recounts his life story while the narrator - a pilot, like the author - repairs his plane, racing against his eight-day supply of water. The little prince’s tales of other planets are enthralling and hauntingly allegorical. Once read, this is a story to return to through a lifetime, and here beautifully packaged as a hardback that will certainly survive multiple re-readings. Beautiful Books - Wordsworth Collector's Editions - The latest series for people that love beautiful books.

An Act of Love

An Act of Love

Author: Carol Drinkwater Format: Paperback Release Date: 29/04/2021

A dramatic and enthralling relationship tale that captures emotion and takes you on a journey through the Second World War. When Sara and her parents flee their homeland taking refuge in the French Alps, the full impact of the Nazi oppression edges ever closer. Inspired by her visit to a small museum in the Lower Alps Carol Drinkwater has created the most captivating story of young love, and the courage needed to face the most devastating of times. She has the ability to focus on the things that make us human, to create a link that alters the focus from watching, to actually feeling the events that take place. A balance is created between the intimate moments of relationships and how they sit within the wider fields of battle during the horror of war. This is ultimately as much a story about Sara’s own relationship with, and understanding of herself as it is with the man she falls in love with. The ending came with beautiful words and tears welling up in my eyes, I just had to include this as a Liz Robinson Pick of the Month. An Act of Love will encourage emotions to dip and soar as it gives hope even in the darkness. The LoveReading LitFest invited Carol to the festival to talk about An Act of Love.   You can view the event by subscribing to the LitFest programme for as little as £6 per month - or you can pay per view. For just £2, go, see Carol in conversation with Paul Blezard and find out why everyone should read this book.   Check out a preview of the event here

Liz Robinson's Picks of the Month
The Lost Girl

The Lost Girl

Author: Carol Drinkwater Format: Hardback Release Date: 29/06/2017

One of Our Books of the Year 2017 | July 2017 eBook of the Month. A mesmerising, haunting, and extraordinarily relevant yet beautifully evocative read. Kurtiz arrives in Paris after a sighting of her missing daughter, as the tale begins to unfurl, humanity at its very best and worst is revealed in several time frames. There is a slight departure in tone from previous novels, however the deep emotion and captivating writing is still reassuringly in evidence for existing fans. Carol Drinkwater explores thoughts and feelings during and after war, and immediately after an act of terrorism, her empathy shines a light on the darkness of the story. The movement in time allows more information to slot into place and the relationships between the characters began to connect like lightening strikes in my mind. ‘The Lost Girl’ is a story about relationships, family, and love during heartbreak, doubt and apprehension, yet rather than oppressive, I found an entirely captivating and beautiful read awaited. ~ Liz Robinson

eBooks of the Month

Comments (1)

Tony W - 22nd July 2021

One wonderful book missing is Sebastian Faulk's Paris Echo. Faulks has a real and genuine love for Paris.you can feel this in the way he writes. He transports the reader through the many oddly named streets. suburbs and metro journeys. The book is never boring and he manages to evoke the many mysteries of Paris during the night and day,through his characters with a beautiful descriptive and entertaining narrative.

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