Alexandre Dumas - The Man in the Iron Mask
The Man in the Iron Mask is the final episode in the cycle of novels featuring Dumas' celebrated foursome of D'Artagnan, Athos, Porthos and Aramis, who first appeared in The Three Musketeers. Some thirty-five years on, the bonds of comradeship are under strain as they end up on different sides in a power struggle that may undermine the young Louis XIV and change the face of the French monarchy. In the fast-paced narrative style that was his trademark, Dumas pitches us straight into the action. What is the secret shared by Aramis and Madame de Chevreuse? Why does the Queen Mother fear its revelation? Who is the mysterious prisoner in the Bastille? And what is the nature of the threat he poses? Dumas, the master storyteller, keeps us reading and guessing until the climatic scene in the grotto of Locmaria, a fitting conclusion to the epic saga of the musketeers.
Gustave Flaubert - Madame Bovary (angol)
Emma Bovary is beautiful and bored, trapped in her marriage to a mediocre doctor and stifled by the banality of provincial life. An ardent reader of sentimental novels, she longs for passion and seeks escape in fantasies of high romance, in voracious spending and, eventually, in adultery. But even her affairs bring her disappointment and the consequences are devastating. Flaubert's erotically charged and psychologically acute portrayal of Emma Bovary caused a moral outcry on its publication in 1857. It was deemed so lifelike that many women claimed they were the model for his heroine; but Flaubert insisted: 'Madame Bovary, c'est moi'.
Lolita Pille - Hell - Paris 75016
Teenager Pille (who grew up in Paris' wealthy sixteenth arrondissement, referenced in the title) chronicles the lives of trust-fund kids who go clubbing all night, sleep all day, and wake up in time to do it all over again. Hell (nee Ella) narrates this bleak little tale, which begins with her declaration "I'm a bitch" and continues with her exploits snorting endless lines of cocaine. Hell gets a reprieve when she falls in love with the mysterious Andrea, with whom she spends a blissful six months--until it ends for reasons hard to fathom. There's a lot of blather about how meaningless life is and how all these kids want is true connection and love from their parents, and on and on. The novel was well received in France and may create something of a stir here, too, based on shock value alone. Pille is not without talent as a writer, but she never convincingly answers the question that hovers over her precocious debut: Why should we care about the suffering of such insufferable people?
Antoine Laurain - The President's Hat
Dining alone in an elegant Parisian brasserie, accountant Daniel Mercier can hardly believe his eyes when President François Mitterrand sits down to eat at the table next to him. Daniel's thrill at being in such close proximity to the most powerful man in the land persists even after the presidential party has gone, which is when he discovers that Mitterrand's black felt hat has been left behind. After a few moments' soul-searching, Daniel decides to keep the hat as a souvenir of an extraordinary evening. It's a perfect fit, and as he leaves the restaurant Daniel begins to feel somehow ... different.
Alexandre Dumas fils - La Dame aux Camélias (angol)
'I find the subject of my books in my dreams', said Dumas pere, 'and my son finds his in reality.' In 1844 Dumas fils began an affair with Marie Duplessis, one of the most desirable courtesans in Paris. After Marie died of consumption in 1847 at the age of 23, Dumas turned their liaison into one of the greatest love stories of all time. Armand casts caution to the winds as he pursues his passion for Marguerite, for whom love whas become her only hope, her redemption even. But there is a price to pay. IF all the world loves a lover, society calss passion to order.
Émile Zola - The Ladies' Paradise
Through charm, drive, and diligent effort Octave Mouret has become the director of one of the finest new department stores in Paris, Au Bonheur des Dames. Supremely aware of the power of his position, Mouret seeks to exploit the desire that his luxuriantly displayed merchandise arouses in the ladies who shop, and the aspirations of the young female assistants he employs. Charting the beginnings of the capitalist economy and bourgeois society, Zola captures in lavish detail the greedy customers and gossiping staff, and the obsession with image, fashion, and gratification that was a phenomenon of nineteenth-century French consumer society. Of all Zola's novels, this may be the one with the most relevance for our own time.
Michel Houellebecq - The Elementary Particles
Bruno and Michel are half-brothers abandoned by their mother, an unabashed devotee of the drugged-out free-love world of the sixties. Bruno, the older, has become a raucously promiscuous hedonist himself, while Michel is an emotionally dead molecular biologist wholly immersed in the solitude of his work. Each is ultimately offered a final chance at genuine love, and what unfolds is a brilliantly caustic and unpredictable tale.
Pierre Pevel - The Alchemist in the Shadows
Paris, 1633: Cardinal Richelieu is on his guard. France is under threat, and a secret society is conspiring against him from the heart of the greatest courts in Europe. To counter the threat, Richelieu has put his most trusted men into play: the Cardinal's Blades, led by Captain la Fargue. When la Fargue hears from "La Donna," a beautiful spy claiming to have valuable information, he has to listen. She says the enemy is an exceptionally dangerous adversary: the Alchemist in the shadows.
Pierre Pevel - The Cardinal's Blades
Welcome to seventeenth-century Paris, where intrigue, duels, and spies are rife and Cardinal Richelieu’s men may be prevailed upon to risk life and limb in the name of France at a moment’s notice. And with war on the horizon, the defense of the nation has never been more pressing. Danger is rising from the south—an insidious plot that could end with a huge dragon-shaped shadow falling over France, a shadow cast by dragons quite unlike the pet dragonets that roam the cities like stray cats, or the tame wyverns men ride like horses, high over the Parisian rooftops. These dragons and their descendants are ancient, terrible, and powerful ... and their plans contain little room for the lives or freedom of men. Cardinal Richelieu has nowhere else to turn; Captain La Fargue and his elite group of men, the Cardinal’s Blades, must turn the tide. They must hold the deadly Black Claw cult at bay, root out traitors to the crown, rescue prisoners, and fulfill their mission for the Cardinal, for their country, but above all for themselves. It’s death or victory. And the victory has never been less certain.
Pierre Pevel - The Dragon Arcana
This is Paris. This is 1633. This is a world under attack from dragons. Cardinal Richelieu is on his guard against the greatest danger he, or France, has faced. A secret society known as the Black Claw is plotting in the shadows. They have already struck twice, and with their third blow they mean to finish their task. Unless the Cardinal's Blades can stop them. They are all prepared to risk their lives for the Crown, this time the question is not whether they will need to ...it's whether or not they will survive. Who are the Dragon Arcana, what secret are the Chatelaine nuns trying so hard to protect, and if an ancient dragon is unleashed on Paris will the Blades really stand a chance against it ...?
Francine Prose - Lovers at the Chameleon Club, Paris 1932
A richly imagined and stunningly inventive literary masterpiece of love, art, and betrayal, set in Paris from the late 1920s into the dark years of World War II, that explores the genesis of evil, the unforeseen consequences of love, and the ultimate unreliability of storytelling itself Emerging from the austerity and deprivation of the Great War, Paris in the 1920s shimmers with excitement, dissipation, and freedom. It is a place of intoxicating ambition, passion, art, and discontent, where louche jazz venues like the Chameleon Club draw expats, artists, libertines, and parvenus looking to indulge their true selves. It is at the Chameleon where the striking Lou Villars, an extraordinary athlete and scandalous cross-dressing lesbian, finds refuge among the club's loyal patrons, including rising Hungarian photographer Gabor Tsenyi, socialite and art patron Baroness Lily de Rossignol; and caustic American writer Lionel Maine. As the years pass, their fortunes-and the world itself-evolve. Lou falls desperately in love and finds success as a racecar driver. Gabor builds his reputation with startlingly vivid and imaginative photographs, including a haunting portrait of Lou and her lover, which will resonate through all their lives. As the exuberant 20s give way to the Depression of the 30s, Lou experiences another metamorphosis-sparked by tumultuous events-that will warp her earnest desire for love and approval into something far more sinister: collaboration with the Nazis. Told in a kaleidoscope of voices that circle around the dark star of Lou Villars, Lovers at the Chameleon Club, Paris 1932 evokes this incandescent city with brio, humor, and intimacy. Exploring a turbulent time defined by terror, bravery, and difficult moral choices, it raises critical questions about truth and memory and the nature of storytelling itself. A brilliant work of fiction and a mesmerizing read, it is Francine Prose's finest novel yet
Sebastian Faulks - The Girl at the Lion d'Or
On a rainy night in the 1930s, Anne Louvet appears at the run-down Hotel du Lion d'Or in the village of Janvilliers. She is seeking a job and a new life, one far removed from the awful injustices of her past. As Anne embarks on a torrential love affair with a married veteran of the Great War, The Girl at the Lion d'Or fashions an unbreakable spell of narrative and atmosphere that evokes French masters from Flaubert to Renoir.
Maurice Druon - The Iron King
"Accursed! Accursed! You shall be accursed to the thirteenth generation!" The Iron King, Philip the Fair, is as cold and silent, as handsome and unblinking as a statue. He governs his realm with an iron hand, but he cannot rule his own family: his sons are weak and their wives adulterous; while his red-blooded daughter Isabella is unhappily married to an English king who prefers the company of men. A web of scandal, murder and intrigue is weaving itself around the Iron King; but his downfall will come from an unexpected quarter. Bent on the persecution of the rich and powerful Knights Templar, Philip sentences Grand Master Jacques Molay to be burned at the stake, thus drawing down upon himself a curse that will destroy his entire dynasty...
Junichiro Tanizaki - The Makioka Sisters
Tanizaki's masterpiece is the story of four sisters, and the declining fortunes of a traditional Japanese family. It is a loving and nostalgic recreation of the sumptuous, intricate upper-class life of Osaka immediately before World War Two. With surgical precision, Tanizaki lays bare the sinews of pride, and brings a vanished era to vibrant life.
Anna Gavalda - Someone I loved
Someone I Loved is Anna Gavalda's first novel and is obviously inspired by the dissolution of her own marriage. Told from the perspective of a woman in her late 30s, Chloe, it begins with her decision to take her children to her in-laws' lake house after her husband leaves her for another woman. Chloe's father-in-law decides to come along. What ensues is a loaded conversation by the fireplace about love found, love lost, and the realization that no one is truly who you think they are. While Chloe has always believed her father-in-law to be an „old bastard,” it turns out he is human, has flaws, had the option to do to his family what Chloe's husband did to his, and took the nobler path.
Karen Wheeler - Tout Sweet
In her mid-thirties Karen has it all: a career as a fashion editor, a handsome boyfriend, a fab flat in west London and an array of gorgeous shoes. But when her ‘plus one’ leaves, she wonders if there is more to life than high fashion. So, she hangs up her Manolos and waves goodbye to her city lifestyle, deciding to go it alone in a run-down house in rural Poitou-Charentes, western France. Once there, she encounters a host of new friends and unsuitable suitors, soon learning that true happiness can be found in the simplest of things – a bike ride through the countryside on a summer evening, or six glasses of Pinot in a neighbour’s garden. If you’ve ever dreamed of chucking away your BlackBerry and downshifting, Tout Sweet is perfect summer reading.
Guillaume Musso - Where Would I Be Without You?
Parisian cop Martin Beaumont has never really got over his first love, Gabrielle. Their brief, intense affair in San Francisco and the pain of her rejection still haunt him years later. Now, however, he's a successful detective - and tonight he's going to arrest the legendary art thief, Archibald Maclean, when he raids the Musee d'Orsay for a priceless Van Gogh. But the enigmatic Archibald has other plans. Martin's pursuit of the master criminal across Paris is the first step in an adventure that will take him back to San Francisco, and to the edge of love and life itself.
Colette - Cheri and the Last of Cheri
Cheri, first published in 1920, is considered Colette's finest novel. Exquisitely handsome, spoilt and sardonic, Cheri is the only son of a wealthy courtesan, a contemporary of Lea, the magnificent and talented woman who for six years has devoted herself to his amorous education. When a rich marriage is arranged for Cheri, Lea reluctantly decides their relationship must end. Cheri, despite his apparent detachment, is haunted by memories of Lea; alienated from his wife, his family and his surroundings, he retreats into a fantasy world made up of dreams and the past, a world from which there is only one route of escape. In her portrait of the fated love affair between a very young man and a middle-aged woman, Colette achieved a peak in her earthy, sensuous and utterly individual art. Cheri caused considerable controversy both in its choice of setting - the fabulous demi-monde of the Parisian courtesans - and in its portrayal of Cheri. --- At the end of Cheri the young Cheri left his aging mistress Lea on the eve of his marriage. Having served in the army during the war Cheri returns to Paris haunted by memories of his carefree youth and the bounty of his benevolent mistress. In the post-war 1920's he finds it impossible to settle down to a new life with his efficient and entrepreneurial wife and friends. As his looks and his reputation begin to deteriorate Cheri's life is thrown into crisis as he attempts to recapture the contentment and companionship of his luxurious youth. As Cheri and Lea confront each other, and the changes a decade has wrought on their lives and their looks, Colette displays the incredible sensitivity and insight for which she is justly famous.
Henri Charrière - Papillon (angol)
Henri Charrière, called Papillon, for the butterfly tattoo on his chest, was convicted in Paris in 1931 for a murder he did not commit. When he was sentenced to life imprisonment in the penal colony of French Guiana, one thought obsessed him: escape. After planning and executing a series of treacherous yet failed attempts over many years, Papillon was eventually sent to the notorious prison, Devil's Island, a place from which no one had ever escaped -- that was, until Papillon. His escape, described in breathless detail, was one of the most incredible tests of human cunning, will, and endurance. In 1968, more than twenty years after his final escape, Charrière had his astonishing autobiography, Papillon, published in France to instant acclaim -- a worldwide bestseller describing the gripping, shocking odyssey of the author's imprisonment and escape over a greuling decade.