Reading update – 4 French-themed books (and one French-adjacent book)

5 French books for your reading pleasure

What have you been reading recently? It’s summer vacation now, which means I have a lot more time to read. I’ve also been on a big long trip around Europe with lots of flights and layovers, so extra time to read! I usually have two books going at once – something non-fiction and something fiction, so I can read a little bit from each every day. I’ve read some great books recently (in particular, the Child 44 series by Tom Robb Smith). That one doesn’t have anything to do with France, but takes place during the post-Stalin era USSR. It brings back so many memories of my days at ASU studying Russian and East European studies. I did read some French-themed books, though – here are my thoughts and reviews.

The Vintage Caper – Peter Mayle

Is there any French teacher who hasn’t read Mayle’s Year in Provence books? If so, you now have your reading assignment! I enjoyed those quite a bit. This book is similar in that it takes place in France, but it’s more of a mystery than a culture/travel book – although there is plenty of that! It’s not particularly long and it’s not too difficult to follow. So if you’re trying to kill some time in a noisy place, or maybe you took a ZZZquil and are waiting for it to kick in, this isn’t a bad choice. It’s not boring and won’t put you to sleep – but it doesn’t require a lot of mental focus to read it, so it won’t keep you up with action scenes and cliffhanger chapters.

Reading update - 4 French-themed books (and one French-adjacent book)

Scarlet – Genevieve Cogman

Reading update - 4 French-themed books (and one French-adjacent book)

While I enjoyed this book, I didn’t enjoy reading it as much as I thought I would. It’s about vampires during the French Revolution – but the vampires don’t play a huge role. There is a bit of tension between the main character and the revolutionary leader and a mysterious plot, but the vampire bit is almost an afterthought for the middle 60% of the book. Are the vampires the good guys, or the bad guys? It depends on the vampire. It’s a solid 3 stars out of 5, but I was disappointed because the premise could have been the base for something really great.

The French art of living well

I really enjoyed reading this one – as the title says, it’s about the way of life in France. It discusses things such as literature, food, and enjoying time off. It’s a good view of the differences between French culture and American culture, and will help you to understand the why behind the differences. It’s an easy read, not a dry academic text, so if you’re looking for a non-fiction read it’s a great choice.

Reading update - 4 French-themed books (and one French-adjacent book)

A Murder in Paris – Blake Pierce

Reading update - 4 French-themed books (and one French-adjacent book)

This one is a fun read – but it’s also one that requires your suspension of disbelief. It’s the story of a woman who decides to go to Paris when her ex-husband announces that he’s getting remarried. The woman decides to make her dream of visiting Paris come true and the dream quickly turns into a nightmare. She is involved in a few different crimes – all without her knowledge or consent – and decides to spend her time solving the crimes. She’s not a detective, nor does she have any experience in investigating crime, so it’s a bit unbelievable at times. But I still enjoyed reading it and definitely a good book to relax with.

A dress of violet tafetta

This one isn’t really in France, but it is somewhat France-adjacent. It’s based on the real life Lady Duff-Gordon who become a clothing designer and icon in the world of women’s fashion. I enjoyed reading this one, it moves quickly and is written in a style that is very enjoyable. Knowing that it’s based on a real person’s life makes it more interesting. Lady Duff-Gordon definitely had an interesting life, surviving the sinking of both the Titanic AND the Lusitania! It’s a rags to riches story that is interesting and entertaining.

Reading update - 4 French-themed books (and one French-adjacent book)

Looking for more good reading choices?

See my past posts if you’re looking for more French-themed books: 5 enjoyable novels about France and 6 great novels set in France.

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