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I've been meaning to mention these for ages, a couple of highly recommended novels set in France. 

Celia Brayfield's, Harvest set in the Midi-Pyrenees.  A really good page turner, great characters, lovely setting, terrific ending.

Also two by Rose Tremain.  The Way I Found Her, a brilliant read, semi-thriller, set in Paris.  And by the same author, The Swimming Pool Season.  This moves between Oxford and the Dordogne, looking at a couple's relationship.

M

 

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I like Instructions for visitors by Helen Stevenson. It is well written and believable and I wanted  to live in Ceret in the Pyrenees Orientales after reading it.

I'd also recommend decective novels by Fred Vargas set in Paris

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Tom, Instructions for Visitors, that's what's it called.  On another thread I meant to ask about this as so many friends have mentioned it having, like you, enjoyed it enormously.  I just couldn't think of the title.  Thanks for the Fred Vargas recommendation, personally I love detective stories almost as much as I love Paris!  M 
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Have you read the books by Joanne Harris?

She, the inspiration of the 'Chocolat' film with Juliet Binoche and Johnny Depp (OOoH!! as luscious as chocolate he is!!) ...

All Joanne Harris' books are set in various part of France at various moment in time .

They give you a good insight in to French ways... Being French, I recognise many of my compatriots foibles in her writing.

'Blackberry Wine'

'Coastliners'

'Five quarters of the orange'

'Holy fools'

and of course 'Chocolat' and I think more in the pipeline.

I think too she wrote a book on 'The French kitchen' to help any of you with french meals etc...

Darn good read with a glass of wine! (French of course!)
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I love Fred Vargas, her novels really fast paced and a good holiday read. I particulary liked Pars vite, et reviens tard. But I didn't realise that they had been translated until I read this thread so I am going to get it for my dad. Pars vite et reviens tard is called Have Mercy on Us all in English.

I must admitt, I liked the first Joanne Harris, Chocolat, but wasn't the film a disappointment? I did not enjoy Blackberry Wine so much and I thought that Five Quarters of the Orange was a bit disappointing too. Perhaps it is due to my living in the city, that I don't identify with that vision of France so much.
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The book I read by Vargas was Have Mercy on Us All. It is a good read with an ingenious plot, but I felt towards the end it was wrapped up a bit too quickly and neatly. On Amazon the translation gets criticised for being too dated.

The other one of hers to be translated is called Seeking Whom He May Devour, set  in a village in the Alps.

 

I enjoyed Chocolat but did find it a slightly sickly. Maybe that was just realistic writing.

 

Was the Swimming Pool Season made in to a film?

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[quote]The book I read by Vargas was Have Mercy on Us All. It is a good read with an ingenious plot, but I felt towards the end it was wrapped up a bit too quickly and neatly. On Amazon the translation gets ...[/quote]

Is that the one about the wolves? It is a pity it is not a good translation, the original is very contemporary. I too looked on the amazon site, and I did wonder whether it was an American translation as one person criticised the use of girdle instead of griddle.

Does anyone know any similar French writers, that is to say of up to date crime novels. I've gone through the usual Siminon and most of Arsene Lupin, but I've liked Fred Vargas most because, well, probably because for detective stories in English I like PD James and this is kind of similar. Any suggestions?
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[quote]Is that the one about the wolves? It is a pity it is not a good translation, the original is very contemporary. I too looked on the amazon site, and I did wonder whether it was an American translati...[/quote]

Tonino Benacquista's crime novels have had good reviews. Only one has been translated in to English though.

 At first I thought Simonin must have been a typo for Simeon

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[quote]The book I read by Vargas was Have Mercy on Us All. It is a good read with an ingenious plot, but I felt towards the end it was wrapped up a bit too quickly and neatly. On Amazon the translation gets ...[/quote]

I think I saw the film on Sky, it was called "The Swimming Pool" and Charlotte Rampling played the main character. It was very good.

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[quote]Is that the one about the wolves? It is a pity it is not a good translation, the original is very contemporary. I too looked on the amazon site, and I did wonder whether it was an American translati...[/quote]

I've enjoyed a few novels/policiers by Didier Daeninckx - the first being Le Géant Inachevé - mainly set in northern France and written in the 1980s. That said one of my all time favourites (not obviously a crime novel) has to be Le Petit Nicholas, especially the illustrated version.

 

Brian

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  • 2 weeks later...

Tom/anyone else, did you read Fred Vargas in French or in translation?  I only ask because one of the reviewers on Amazon felt the translation of the one set in Paris didn't feel right/help set the tone so I may read it in French.  Also, Tom you mention another writer and the Pyrenees.  Fred's written one in the same setting, sorry didn't note title.  M

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I have just finished Iain Pears' novel (in English) "The Dream of Scipio", Set in Provence (Vaison la Romaine and Avignon), the story weaves together three separate characters from different periods of history, the Roman occupation, the medieval period of the Popes in France and the Second World War occupation. Not a novel that can be read quickly but I enjoyed it thoroughly.

Brian

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If you're into 'louche' novels about Paris, between the 2 wars, you must get acquainted with one of the most successful authors at the time, namely Francis Carco. Originally Corsican, but later a Parisian, he described the shady atmosphere of the Paris underworld ('les bas-fonds'), the bars, the girls, la Java... Better start with 'Jesus la Caille', 'les brumes' and 'les ombres'. Un bon petit gars de chez nous quoi ! 

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[quote]Tom/anyone else, did you read Fred Vargas in French or in translation? I only ask because one of the reviewers on Amazon felt the translation of the one set in Paris didn't feel right/help set the to...[/quote]

I read 'Have Mercy On Us All' in English -  my French isn't good enough to criticise the translation. The only other book of hers in English is 'Seeking Whom he May Devour' about a small community in the French Alps.

Helen Stevenson's book is set in the Pyrenees. It's not your typical expat living in France book.

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MWJ, I read Fred Vargas in French, I think she is great. I don't think her novels are all that difficult for those who live in France and talk to French people regularly. If you don't, they might appear a bit too colloquial. I have just read and loved "Debout les morts" and "Sans feu ni lieu", they have the same central characters and I would recommend both.

Can I also rave about A Gathering Light by Jennifer Donnelly? Nothing to do with France, but a real page turner and very well written, set in the US at the turn of the nineteeth century and is a great read. It is about the parallel lives of a murdered girl and another who reads her letter. Really, really good.
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