Monday, September 27, 2010

Book Nook - French Week continues!

I've decided to extend my "French Week" another week because I just didn't get a chance to share everything I wanted to last week & didn't get to do some fun French stuff I had planned.  Plus, thinking about France & reminiscing about our trip 9 years ago is just too fun, so here we are again.  Toujours la France!

I've been thinking about more French-related books that I've read & there are a couple that I wanted to share, in addition to the ones from last week.  By the way, if you have any that you'd like to recommend, I'm all ears.  I love books about France & French life & I'm always on the lookout for this kind of book!

My Life in France by Julia Child is a wonderful book that I read earlier this year.  In it, Julia Child discusses living in Paris with her husband Paul.  I loved reading about their social life & all the people they knew and events they attended.  I enjoyed the little details about their apartment.  But what really struck me about this book is how tenacious Julia Child was!  She worked for years (years!) on her book, with only the solid belief that it was a good idea & people would want it to guide her along.  She is frank about her relationship with her co-author, Simone Beck, letting us know when she was frustrated with the collaboration.  I can't help but admire her persistence to the book (Mastering the Art of French Cooking) through all the ups & downs of the process, which took years (years!).

Child writes all about the research & testing of the recipes & process of getting the book published, while at the same time painting a nice background about France & what it was like to live there in the late 40's/early 50s.  The book keeps going after Mastering is published, and Child writes about her television career, writing the second cookbook (and others), moving back to the United really touches a lot of the events in her life & career.

I originally listened to the book on CD, but I'd also recommend checking out the hardback book, as there are lots of pictures taken by Paul Child.  If you do read this book, be prepared to do lots of French cooking, because Julia Child is an inspiration indeed!

I actually read Left Bank by Kate Muir a few years ago & have not read it since, so my memory is a little fuzzy!  But, despite those years, I do remember a lot about this story & can recall a lot of the scenes & character traits of the main characters, so bravo to Kate Muir!  Isn't that one thing authors set out to do: create memorable scenes/characters?

Anyway, this book is set in Paris & opens with Olivier & Madison Malin at an amusement park with their precocious daughter, Sabine.  Sabine gets lost (or so they think) at the park & a search ensues.  The rest of the book is the unfolding of their lives (along with some flashbacks, like when they visit his family at their country home), & relationships, entwined with the nanny, Anna.

Of course, I really enjoyed the setting of the novel.  I loved the details of their apartment & the country home, & the setting that the author portrays.  What's it like to be a well-to-do Parisian?  This novel shows us.  I think the characters are well written too - Muir is not afraid to show us the good & the bad things about the main characters & they're more well-rounded for it.  I also liked the bat-like neighbor!

I borrowed this book from the library & my mother-in-law, who was staying with us for a few days, picked it up & started reading it.  Fortunately for me, she didn't like it & I don't think she got very far.  This is fortunate because there are a couple of scenes in the book that are R-rated and I cringe to think about my mother-in-law reading them!  It's much better that she just didn't like it from the start!

Next posting, I'll have more pics from our trip....probably in the next day or so!


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