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17 december 2017

Le loup blanc is a rip-roaring tale of adventure and intrigue. Written in the 1840s, set in the early decades of the 18th century, Paul Féval père's historical novel offers satisfying helpings of aristocratic intrigue and Robin-Hoody running around in the woods.     read more

14 december 2017

I'm not sure where cholera comes into Patrick Deville's 2012 Prix-Femina-winning novel Peste & choléra. Google.fr suggests that there is a French expression "choisir entre la peste et le choléra," akin to proverbial anglophone choices like the fire and the frying pan, a rock and a hard place, hell and Texas, etc. But I am still not sure why the novel has its title. It is the story of Alexandre Yersin, discoverer of the plague bacillus (hence there is plenty of peste in the book). Yersin doesn't seem to be in any lose-lose situations. Perhaps all lives, though, involve choosing between plague and cholera in some cosmic sense.     read more

30 november 2017

I will cheerfully admit that I was led to Barbey d'Aurevilly's L'ensorcelée (1852) by a Wikipedia page on 19th-century French novels. I wanted some old French fiction by authors I hadn't heard of before, and this one proved to be free on iBooks.     read more

18 november 2017

Le voleur de bonbons is a novel set on the outskirts of melodrama, with occasional detours into melodrama city center. But its characters are likable and complicated.     read more