Wednesday, 17 December 2014

Books on France 2014: The Summary

On New Year’s Day I joined the Books on France 2014 reading challenge hosted by Emma from Words and Peace which is going to end in a fortnight. Since my last review for it went online past Friday, I decided to make the balance and the final list today.

The goal that I set myself in January (»»» see my launch post) hasn’t been too ambitious and I surpassed it without problems. Instead of only six to twelve books set in France and/or written in French, I presented altogether 14 here on Edith’s Miscellany during the past twelve months. In addition, I published a book notice of Gigi and Other Stories by Colette on my other blog Lagraziana’s Kalliopeion because it didn’t fit into my planning. From the short list of books that I intended to read, I only picked one: 37°2 le matin by Philippe Djian which uses to be translated as Betty Blue. Sorry, no Flaubert, no Proust, no Zola.

Because my French is good enough and I dislike having a translator standing between me and the author, I read most of the books in French. Two of the reviewed works – Good Morning, Midnight by Jean Rhys and The Winter of Artifice by Anaïs Nin – were originally written in English, though, and it goes without saying that there too I preferred to read the original versions. The big exception is A Palace in the Old Village by Tahar Ben Jelloun which got into my hands in German translation and by mere accident, but for once I didn’t get the impression to miss something important.

Two novels on the list below have been re-reads, namely The Elegance of the Hedgehog by Muriel Barbery and The Abyss by Marguerite Yourcenar which shows how much I like them. One of the reviewed books has been out of print in English for ages, namely A Monkey in Winter by Antoine Blondin, and the English edition of Marie Claire by Marguerite Audoux is available only as an e-book or book on demand. As far as I know, several of the listed works have been adapted for the screen at one time or another.

I tried to make it a varied list containing the works of classic as well as contemporary authors and great literature as well as popular fiction. I hope that the reviews of the books on my list will inspire you to read the one or other of them. And here's my final list of the Books on France 2014 reading challenge:
  • Marguerite Audoux: Marie-Claire (1910), translated into Endlish as Marie Claire 
    read my review
  • Muriel Barbery: L'élégance du hérisson (2006), translated into English as The Elegance of the Hedgehog  »»» read my review
  • Tahar Ben Jelloun: Au pays (2009), translated into English as A Palace in the Old Village »»» read my review
  • Antoine Blondin: Un singe en hiver (1959), translated into English as A Monkey in Winter, but out of print  »»» read my review
  • Louis-Ferdinand Céline: Voyage au bout de la nuit (1932), translated into English as Journey to the End of the Night  »»» read my review
  • Jean-Marie Gustave Le Clézio: Désert (1980), translated into English as Desert 
    »»» read my review
  • Katherine Pancol: Les yeux jaunes des crocodiles (2006), translated into English as The Yellow Eyes of Crocodiles  »»» read my review
  • Boris Vian: L’écume des jours (1947), translated into English as Mood Indigo / Foam of the Daze / Froth on the Daydream »»» read my review
  • Marguerite Yourcenar: L’œuvre au noir (1968), translated into English as The Abyss / Zeno of Bruges  »»» read my review


  1. Great list!

    I love Philippe Djian, I've followed his literary career almost since the beginning and it's always a pleasure to start one of his books.

    1. Thanks for the praise Emma! Betty Blue is the only one of Philippe Djian's books that I read so far. There simply is too little time for too many books that I'd like to read...


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