A literary traveller – and all things French

Today we hand over the reins to Emma Cazabonne of the book blog Words and Peace. She is an English to French literary translator and loves French books and books set in France in particular!. Emma it’s over to you:

Emma-in-Shakespeare-and-Company
Emma in her favourite place – Shakespeare and Company Bookstore in Paris

Bonjour and thank you for having me today at The Book Trail.

I was born and raised in France, growing up in the Champagne and the Burgundy regions. I was an English teacher in France and when I came to live in the US fifteen years ago, I started teaching French online. I’m also an English to French literary translator  I am also an artist, painting almost exclusively on rocks.

1. Hi Emma you write the Words And Peace blog which features all things French and books set in France. Why did you start writing this blog?

Actually my book blog, Words And Peace, is very eclectic. I also review lots of historical novels for instance, not set in France, mysteries and nonfiction, among other genres!

Those who know me in real life notice that I can’t refrain from talking about what I read. When I discovered there was a species called ‘book bloggers’, who keep raving about the books they love, I knew I had to join! So I launched Words And Peace just 5 years ago, for a larger place to review the books I love and connect with other book lovers.

2. You’re planning to read So You Don’t Get Lost in the Neighborhood by Patrick Modiano set in Paris. Why did you choose this book and can you tell us more about it?

You may remember that French author Patrick Modiano won the Nobel Prize in Literature in 2014. I have loved his novels since I was a teenager. This novel is his latest, published just a few weeks before he got the award.

I was planning to read it in the original language of course, but it was right there on display at my (awesome) publish library. So really, how could I hesitate? I actually plunged into it right away, as I had to wait for someone, and before I left the library, I had already read a third of the book! Did anyone say I am a passionate reader? Lol

I’m not going to review it here, but I can say that it’s a typical Modiano novel, with a “greyish” ambiance, with characters that show up in previous books by him, and where the main character is actually the city of Paris itself. This novel is in between literary fiction and mystery. A short, perfect introduction to Modiano for those who don’t know him yet.

3. Book bingo is a smart feature of your blog. From your 2015 bingo card, can you tell us of a romance book set in France and one with a French word in the title that you would recommend?

Thanks! I have organized a French Challenge for several years, and I thought a bingo twist would be fun for this year.

I personally do not read much romance, but I highly recommend this historical novel, based on a most famous medieval French couple, with a lot of romance and heartache involved: The Sharp Hook of Love, by Sherry Jones

An amazing one with a French word would be Mademoiselle Chanel, by  C. W. Gortner. Stunning!

4. France Book Tours is your virtual book tour company where you showcase books set in France and invite readers to review them on their own book blogs. Why is it important for you to write about books set in your native country and/or written by native writers?

When I got seriously into the world of book blogging, I started signing up to review books for virtual book tours. I noticed virtual book tour companies were usually specialized in a specific genre.

At the same time, I got aware of the impressive number of books published every month that were written in English but set in France, or about France. So I knew this was an undiscovered niche I had to tackle, and that’s how France Book Tours was born.

Americans are very fond of France, but not everyone can afford to travel there on a regular basis. So why not travel through books, right? And when you can get these books for free, what’s not to love? Our readers receive the book for free, they just commit to review it on their own book blog at a specific date, just like it works for any other virtual book tour company.

We also feature books originally written in French and then translated in English: there’s a real mine of amazing writers in France, but if you don’t read French, you may not even hear about them. So if their books get translated, I want as many English readers as possible to discover them.

5. You are a French translator and have translated several novels. Which has been the hardest or most enjoyable to translate and why?

The most challenging has certainly been my very first historical novel, Orgueil et honneur, written by Nathaniel Burns. It’s a rather long novel set at the time of Charlemagne. I had to do a lot of research, for instance on how you would address a bishop in French at that period. Plus, I did this translation through a specific company that has not yet paid me one cent for my hard work…

My most enjoyable translation is a contemporary mystery set in the South of the US: Au nord de Folly-sur-mer, by author Tanya Anne Crosby. It’s a fun book, with great descriptions of the surrounding landscapes, very lively dialogs, and wonderful job in character development.
When a book has so much substance, even though translating is always a difficult challenge, it requires all your creativity, and so is very enjoyable.

Actually I also translated the sequel, just as great, À l’ouest de la mort, and the prequel, Les derniers moments de Florence W. Aldridge.

I’m currently translating another novel by the same author, this time set in Scotland in the 13th century!

6. Can you recommend us some of your favourite books set in France?

(the Da Vinci code really sparked a influx of readers to the Louvre and Saint Sulpice. can you tell us of a place which is important literary style to yourself in some way?)

OMG, there are so many! I have read 30 books set in France so far this year, so I’m going to pick a few titles from this year only.

One of the last great historical novels I read is The Sisters of Versailles, by Sally Christie. It’s great to see that publishers are finally slowly discovering that the French court was just as interesting as the Tudors.

There’s a French mystery writer I really enjoy: The City of Blood, by Frédérique Molay.

And I really enjoyed this short literary novel, about a short ride between Champagne and Paris: The 6:41 to Paris, by Jean-Philippe Blondel.

To discover more, just follow the I Love France Category on my blog.

I don’t have a specific literary place important to me. But I lived in the Champagne region and often too the train, so this last book resonated a lot with me.


Also, I love the Burgundy region where I spent many years, so it’s always fun bumping into it in books. For instance, there’s a whole series translated from the French, about a detective who is also a winemaker. Each cozy mystery in the series focuses on a different wine region. The one on Burgundy is Nightmare in Burgundy, by Jean-Pierre Alaux and Noël Balen.

One of my pictures taken in Burgundy:

Words-and-peace-burgundy
Burgundy (c) Words and Peace

Thanks for having me today and for your wonderful questions.

Your readers can follow my reading activity on my blog: Words And Peace.

You can subscribe through email or through Bloglovin not to miss a post.

Also through Facebook, Twitter, Google +, Instagram, Pinterest and YouTube.

And there are always great books available for free to review on France Book Tours, as well as giveaways organized every month.

When the fictional and non fictional worlds collide

If travel be the food of love, read on…..

MAP-FICTION-AND-NON-

Whether you wish to visit a place where an author has set their books, or the places where he or she grew up, then literary travel is for you. From Poldark’s Cornwall to Charles Dickens’ London, there are plenty of places and museums to visit and indulge your senses.

There are places now that I associate with fictional happenings however that I can not see them in a ‘normal’ light now, nor would I want to, for they are the place where I have walked, talked, met, dined and following in the footsteps of my favourite characters.

Fictional stops  – Colombia and France….

Colombia

ChroicleGarcia Marquez, a giant of Spanish language fiction sets his stories in the fictional town of Macondo thought to be inspired by his real home of Aracataca in Colombia. Having read his novels set there, I only wish it were possible to visit for real (maybe with his magical realism I will be able to one day)

However, it was the village in Chronicle of a Death Foretold where I really wanted to go, in order to run and find Santiago and warn him of what was to come. This novel is set in a small fictional Colombia coastal town but the story was inspired by events in Sucre, Colombia that the author had heard about as a family he and his family knew were involved in similarly chilling events.

Paris  – St Sulpice

da-vinci-code2Just what is the power of fiction? Can fictional worlds and non fictional worlds ever be confused? Well the moment I visited Saint Sulpice I realised that yes they could….

Visitors from all over the world would come here and sit and trace their hands along the Rose line looking for the break where Silas had smashed his way through the floor …. of the hordes of tourists who would sit near the upside down pyramid of the Louvre…

World literature  – books set in iconic settings all over the world really can blur the line between real and fictional worlds. And that’s the best kind of literary travel there is.

https://thebooktrail.wordpress.com/2012/06/21/the-da-vinci-code-paris/

Read this sign that the Church had to place inside close to the place where all the Da Vinci fans would go to visit….

Back Camera

Non fictional stops:

Scotland

Dan Boothby and the Island of dreams

book onePlaces inspired writers and inspire other writers to go there too. Kyleakin Lighthouse, for example in Scotland is the island where Gavin Maxwell once lived. He was the author of  A Ring of Bright Water– a captivating story about his relationship with three otters and the enchanting landscape of the Scottish highlands. Dan Boothby followed him in his footsteps and wrote his own diary of life there and the Maxwell effect……

https://thebooktrail.wordpress.com/2015/10/14/writing-about-the-island-of-dreams-dan-boothby/

Food and a love of Iran

Jennifer Klinec is the author of  ‘The Temporary Bride’ in which she details her travels to Iran to learn about the food and the culture there. What she ends up temp bridgediscovering however is much more complex and unexpected entirely..

It’s the a story about love in so many ways – the love of food, the love and respect she has for Iran and a curiosity to get right under the skin of a fascinating country and its people. She is no naive traveller, she is rather a travelling ambassador of sorts who aims to discover the gems that are tucked away in family homes, markets, shops and steeped in tradition.

https://thebooktrail.wordpress.com/2015/09/02/if-food-be-the-sustenance-of-love-read-on-jennifer-klinec-and-writing-about-iran/

If books be the food of love….read on…

Travelling can be both hungry and thirsty work, so what better way to indulge your cravings and discover a new cuisine along the way than by picking up a book and delving into its delectable aromas and flavours…

MAP-FOOD

FOOD – Street food in Mumbai

The Unexpected Inheritance of Inspector Chopra – Mumbai (Bombay) – India – Vaseem Khan

elephantInspector Ashwin Chopra  is due to retire this very day from the Mumbai police department so he’s not expecting to have any more cases to solve before he goes. But then two mysteries fall right into his lap – luckily not literarily as one of them is a baby elephant. The first mystery however is a drowned little boy whose death is suspicious and who no one seems bothered to solve.

But Chopra is not having any of it, and last day or not, he’s going to get to the bottom of it. So he trawls the city of Mumbai looking for clues –  with a baby elephant named Ganesh as his sidekick..

Foodie kicks

Cuppa and a curry with the author – https://thebooktrail.wordpress.com/2015/09/16/vaseem-khan-talks-elephants-food-and-mumbai/

This is a  Mumbai which is sweaty, noisy, chaotic, vibrant and teaming with a number of characters and colours. Street food vendors stand on street corner peddaling their wares. The busy, complex aromas of the city are all around, the noise,hustle and bustle of dishes being prepared and tastebuds salvating in readiness for a meal to remember. Chopra his food as a ritual since he has an aversion to ginger – it’s these little quirks that made me picture the man as if he was stood right beside me.

FOOD: Haggis in Edinburgh

edinbThe Strings of Murder – Edinburgh 1888 – Oscar de Muriel

Edinburgh, 1888. A violinist is murdered in his home. In his locked practice room whilst the sound of several musicians played in the night. Who could have got in the room whilst it was locked? And who would want to kill a violinist?

Meanwhile in London, the city is awash with panic over the Ripper murders and so Scotland Yard sends Inspector Ian Frey to investigate under the cover of a fake department specializing in the occult. However, Frey’s new boss, Detective ‘Nine-Nails’ McGray, actually believes in such supernatural nonsense.

Just who or what is crawling the dark dank streets of Edinburgh?

Foodie moments

A cuppa and a cake with the author-

https://thebooktrail.wordpress.com/2015/04/22/cuppa-and-some-scottish-shortbread-with-oscar-de-muriel-the-strings-murder/

Whoah – this side of Edinburgh is not one you’ll have seen before. It’s not the bustling bright city it is now but one of darkness, the occult, violins played by the devil, a devils sonata and if Inspector Frey is to be believed, bad bad food and even worse weather…

The policeman from the south has trouble finding decent food to eat in the city he says but eventually is told he should try the haggis.Well, if haven’t tried it yet, read this book and then taste it. Go on…

FOOD: Cassoulet from a French villlage

The Fogas Chronicles

Julia Stagg

It’s off to France now to meet Julia Stagg, who brings food into all of her French set novels…

https://thebooktrail.wordpress.com/2014/04/06/cuppa-and-a-cake-with-julia-stagg/

L’Auberge

aubergeSet in Fogas, A fictional village  in the French pyrenees, this is a story of an English couple, Paul and Lorna, moving in to a rural French community and trying as best they can to fit in. Fogas is a village you want to happen upon and stay for a while such is its charm despite it being more rural than rural itself –

 There was no shop, no bar and even La Poste had been sensible and placed the commune post office in La Riviere. So apart from the cluster of houses which formed the village and the old communal washbasin with its continually running tap, Fogas was simply the base for the town hall

 

Foodie moments

In the first book , L’Auberge…

The young English couple have just bought the local Auberge, much to the horror of the locals who fear the English and their cooking in particular.

 

‘The Auberge has been sold to an outsider’

‘But why is a given that the restaurant will fail just because they are foreigners?’ demanded Christian

‘Because,’ Pascal relied in his lofty manner, ‘the new owners are English!’

Then the adventures continue with The French Postmistress, the Parisians return and a Fete to remember….

A French village offers baguettes, cheese and good old fashioned local grub. Ah the antics of these people will make you laugh but it’s the local cuisine, the French way of eating and the mountain setting which will have you salvating over French fayre. The books all feature the famous French dish of Cassoulet and ah you just have to try it! Julia Stagg the author used to work in a French auberge and so her observations on the food and drink of a French village are spot on.

So whether you are hungry for food in Mumbai, want to try some haggis in Scotland or eat the best Cassoulet this side of the Pyrenees, just pick up one of these three books and tuck in.

Bon appetit!

England and French Riviera – The Mystery of the Blue Train Agatha Christie

the-mystery-of-the-blue-train

Why a booktrail?

Not the infamous Orient Express maybe, but when a woman is found murdered on the train, Poirot comes on board.

Story in a nutshell

When the luxurious Blue Train pulls into the station at Nice, a guard attempts to wake Ruth Kettering who is still sleeping in her compartment. He is shocked to discover that she is dead and has been felled by a heavy blow  – her features almost unrecognizable. Ruth Kettering was the daughter of an American millionaire and her rubies appear to be missing…

Poirot is called to investigate but he’s not sure that the prime suspect – Ruth’s estranged husband, Derek is the murderer, so he stages an exact and chilling re-enactment of the journey, complete with the murderer on board…

Place and setting

LONDON - Victoria Station Where the train departs from Paris - Place de la Concorde A little man with a face like a  rat crosses the Place de la Concorde France - South of France - France Riviera - Cannes When they arrived at Cannes, Katherine got out and walked up and down the platform France - South of France - France Riviera - Nice The final destination of the train
LONDON – Victoria Station
Where the train departs from
FRANCE – Paris – Place de la Concorde
A little man with a face like a rat crosses the Place de la Concorde
France – South of France – France Riviera – Cannes
When they arrived at Cannes, Katherine got out and walked up and down the platform
France – South of France – France Riviera – Nice
The final destination of the train

Train travel Agatha Christie style? Maybe keep one eye open when you sleep and always look over your shoulder when awake as murders appear to take place on her trains. This might not be the famous Orient Express but it’s a journey which ends in murder all the same.

A leisurely journey by train to the French Riviera might sound nice but poor Ruth is found dead – strangled in her carriage with her ruby “Heart of fire’ missing. This valuable stone had been given to her by her father. Ruth’s husband was on the train but he claims not to have seen Ruth. Others say he did.

Ruth’s maid is another strange character on the train, mixed up in the events of that day. In fact there are a range of strange characters with dubious backgrounds that Poirot finds it hard to understand at first.

The reenactment – like a reconstruction of the crime and the events is eerily evoked. Taking place just after the real crime and in such a closed space, the atmosphere is eerily evoked.

Old fashioned murder investigations resume  – with a potential jewel thief, a rich woman dead on a train and a cigarette case with the letter K engraved on it.

The plot of this novel is based on the 1923 Poirot short story  ‘The Plymouth Express’ and features the first mention and description of the fictional village St Mary Mead where Christie’s later Miss Marple stories would be set.

Paris, St Petersburg, London, The Amazon Rainforest – The Last Kiss Goodbye – Tasmina Perry

last kiss goodbye

Why a booktrail?

A faded photograph starts a search for the love lost across the years

Story in a nutshell

1961.

Rosamund Bailey is ready to change the world. She is young, wants to fight for what she believes in and meets her match in Dominic Blake. He is an explorer and also wants to break down boundaries and to leave his mark on the world. When tragedy strikes however, a faded photo of their last kiss is all that remains

2014.

Deep in the vaults of a museum, A faded photo of a lingering kiss is found by archivist Abby Morgan. Fascinated by this one moment frozen in time, she sets out to find out who this couple were and what happened all those years ago.

Place and setting

From London, to Paris, to St Petersburg and the Amazon Rainforest...
From London, to Paris, to St Petersburg and the Amazon Rainforest…

A story set in Paris, London, and deep in the heart of the Amazon jungle, time and places separated by years and decades of a lost love. Lost in every sense of the world.

London

he British Cartographic Society c/o Royal Geographical Society 1 Kensington Gore London SW7 2AR Could this be where Abby works?  Egerton Crescent - where Victoria lives Highgate Cemetery - Rosamund lives close to here Waterloo Bridge Waterloo Bridge - an iconic spot in Rosamund and Dominic’s story Kew Gardens - Elliot gives Abby a tour around here http://www.kew.org/visit-kew-gardens
The British Cartographic Society
c/o Royal Geographical Society
1 Kensington Gore
Could this be where Abby works?
Egerton Crescent – where Victoria lives
Highgate Cemetery – Rosamund lives close to here
Waterloo Bridge – an iconic spot in Rosamund and Dominic’s story
Kew Gardens – Elliot gives Abby a tour around here
http://www.kew.org/visit-kew-gardens

The story of the photograph first comes to light in the vaults of the Royal Cartography Institute where it is featured in an exhibition and christened ‘The Last Kiss Goodbye’.

This is the London where Dominic and Rosamund start their love affair. From Waterloo Bridge, to the parties of Eaton Square, their London is one of a whirlwind love affair

The world is changing, women are fighting for their rights and for what they deserve, sexual liberation is being mixed up faster than the cocktails in the swinging jazz clubs.

St Petersburg

“Back in the sixties, most of the Russian newspapers were state controlled”

These were dangerous times for the world is changing on the international stage too. The Cold War is in full swing and the murky world of espionage and diplomatic manoeuvres is a a world that is not as far away as young, free couples might imagine. Abby’s research soon takes her into the dark world of the KGB and Soviet spies for Dominic was an influential man who hob-nobed in his job as editor of Capital magazine. This world however is one which evokes the secrecy, uncertainty and duality of the times.

“The Russians wanted us to believe that there were traitors in every sector of our ruling elite. They wanted to destabilise us”

Paris

The sixties were just as swinging in Paris as they were elsewhere. Rosamund and Dominic spend time here with each other enjoying each other as well as the city’s literary heritage with visits to Les Deux Magots where Sartre and his contemporaries would sit and talk. The world here is an exciting one on the edge of something big. Times are a changing and the memories created here are some that Rosamund will savour for years to come.

The  Amazon

However three such disparate and seemingly unconnected locations link up a story that twists and turns with one photo at its centre. Dominic, lost on an expedition to the far flung Amazon jungle with its humidity, the pitiless sun coupled with the biblical downpours.

Lost and never found, his whereabouts a ghostly imprint. Abby, assisted by Rosamund search for what went so terribly wrong all those years and miles away.

Bookish musings

What a  story! From one photo I was transported not just via locations but through many different emotions as I followed Dominic’s and Rosamund’s story with anticipation. Going back to the 1960s with a story of love and subterfuge was an exciting literary journey and the contrast of the troubled times with the Cold war in the background was a fascinating insight into the period.

I loved Dominic’s and Rosamund’s story, the challenges they faced, the struggles they had to endure and the cloud of suspicion that has hung over both of them ever since. What did happen to Dominic in that jungle? I was dying to find out. Having Rosamund help Abby in the present day was a great way to discover things together with the characters.

The love story is at the centre of course but what a twisting and turning story of hope, secrets and a changing world. So many contrasts which fitted so well together. And it all started with one frozen moment captured on film. A shocking secret buried in time is revealed and the journey  to find it is one of the most fascinating I’ve been on in a long while.

The Milliner’s Secret – London and Paris – WW2 – Natalie Meg Evans

Milliner

Why a booktrail?

Natalie Meg Evans has transported us to Paris of haute couture with The Dress Thief, now she takes us to the dark days of the occupation in Paris through the eyes of a young milliner…A milliner with a secret…

Story in a hatbox…

What cost the price of fame?

Cora Masson is a young, poor and  disenchanted young girl working in London. Her life is not a happy one for various reasons and one day is given an opportunity to change her life. She dreams of becoming someone and making something of herself.  A dressmaker to the elite. So she changes her name to Coralie de Lirac, moves to Paris and invents a past to push her to the front of the chicest Parisian circles. She lives with her German lover whose influence gets her noticed.

Working as a Milliner, she becomes a success but then German soldiers invade the city. War has arrived and life is going to change.

However, with such a mixed background, what is real and what isn’t and can Coralie survive the biggest challenge of her life?

The World of the Milliner….

Boulevard Raspail - Hotel de Lutetia One of the most iconic hotels on the Left bank (due to reopen 2017) and where Coralie goes. This is a lush hotel where the signs of Nazism can be seen in the novel. Boulevard de la Madeleine Where the Passierinette is located Rue de Vaugirard Dietrich’s flat is here Rue de Seine Where Coralie lives Boulevard Haussmann  where the posh department stores are such as Printemps
Boulevard Raspail – Hotel de Lutetia
One of the most iconic hotels on the Left bank (due to reopen 2017) and where Coralie goes. This is a lush hotel where the signs of Nazism can be seen in the novel.
Boulevard de la Madeleine
Where the Passierinette is located
Rue de Vaugirard
Dietrich’s flat is here
Rue de Seine
Where Coralie lives
Boulevard Haussmann
where the posh department stores are such as Printemps

The World of Paris fashion is both a sumptuous and difficult place to be. At first Coralie’s world is one filled with love, expectation, fashion and new hats. Her German lover Dietrich takes her the famous milliners La Passierinette on Boulevard de la Madeleine for the first time, a hat emporium that will be the focus of her life in Paris –

She studied the shop, likening tis pink walls and the overblown chandeliers that cast reflections on the hats in the window.

Grey and pink hatboxes caught her eye

The shop opens Coralie’s eyes to Parisian life and to the secret life of Dietrich. There is something about the shop, the hats and the women who work there that entices and frightens her. She is a frightened gazelle in a new world that she is determined to conquer.

This is the world of the French Expo, so the city is abuzz with new fashions, new faces and a new sense of excitement. At the same time the Nazis are encroaching on the city – even the German pavillion is floodlit with an eagle dominating its roof. Coralie’s sense of wonderment is tempered with the knowledge that her secret identity could be unmasked at any time.

The city is changing and fast. Coralie’s determination gets her a job at Henriette Junot’s milliners shop catapults her into the fashion milieu of the city of lights. Women clamour for her designs and style but her facade feels as fragile as the delicate butterflies which adorn the hats.

When the war comes, alliances and friendships start to unravel like the silken threads of the milliner’s hand.

Friendship was dangerous and human sympathy was rationed.

War is like the ultimate veil which descends dangerously on the city, and identities become blurred and something to dress over rather than display proudly. Coralie’s work continues but the war takes her friends, changes her life and questions her reasons for being there.

Coralie’s Paris turns into a network of shadowy alliances, dark corners, shady characters. Hitler has plans for the Jews of the city, whilst others have plans to stop his torment. Life in the Resistance becomes increasingly possible but Cora/Coralie is trapped not only in Paris but between her conscience and reality. In the lush hotel Lutetia in Boulevard Raspail –

In the marble foyer, icons of Nazism were everywhere, superimposed on the lush decor

Paris now is caught between two worlds, just like Coralie and her  dreams. Friends disappear and Coralie is all alone.

Bookish musings – Susan

A sumptuous world of hats, milliners secrets, styles and a woman trying to find her way in a dangerous world.

Cora/Coralie is living a dangerous life. She escapes one world to enter another but the war shows her the fripperies of life can be dangerous. Oh and the trouble she had masking her identity almost getting caught several times!

The thrill of being in Paris fashion circles (mentions of characters of the author’s first book The Dress Thief really added to the atmosphere of this very real world) only to find war encroaching on every aspect of life was fascinating and Coralie ran into danger so often it was scary. The way she coped with Dietrich, their shady friends, friends going missing, violence and scare tactics made her grow as a character and what I at first thought was going to be a romance in war time Paris was soon a great deal more.

The deportation of Jews contrasted with the Paris elite’s need for a fine hat and it was this which really evoked the irony of war. Not being allowed to wear the colours of the Marsellaise, or speak freely was vividly portrayed as Coralie learned to find her way in the dark.

From start to finish, an enthralling and captivating tale of war time Paris. The risk and then reality of your friends going missing must have been horrendous and Coralie was tenacious and determined. I’d already read and loved The Dress Thief so to see these characters mentioned and have them involved in the plot really added to the overall sense of being involved and immersed in their world.

So many issues in this book that I think it needs a sequel  – I’ve not seen Paris painted like this before. Fascinating.

The Book of Lost and Found – Paris- London- Corsica – Lucy Foley

lost and found

Why a booktrail?

From Cornwall to London, Paris and Corsica in the 1920s where the a love story spans the decades and the ages until war changes everything

Story in a nutshell

London 1986

Kate starts to sort through her grandmother’s belongings  when she finds a painting of a woman Celia, drawn by the famous artist Thomas Stafford. Wanting to know more, she starts to look into her family’s past. She’s always known she was adopted but the search takes her down roads and via stories she never could have imagined

Paris 1939

Alice Everly and Thomas Stafford meet again after having met in 1913 Cornwall and meet over the years as war tries to intervene once again. Tom is now a world-famous artist, Alice is a different person too. Can they rekindle what they once had and what they once dreamed of?

Place and setting

*Silk street where she works in a solicitors office *Upper street Where Alice lives *Royal Academy of Arts Burlington House Piccadilly Mayfair, London Kate goes to see Stafford here *Claridge's Brook St - http://www.claridges.co.uk/ A special meeting takes place here Paris PARIS Rue de seine An address of note in the city Gare du Lyon She arrives here with Oliver Ile de Cite Where he and Kate walk one evening after supper on the way back to the apartment
*Silk street
where she works in a solicitors office
*Upper street
Where Alice lives
*Royal Academy of Arts
Burlington House
Piccadilly
Mayfair, London
Kate goes to see Stafford here
*Claridge’s
Brook St
http://www.claridges.co.uk/
A special meeting takes place here

PARIS
Rue de seine
An address of note in the city
Gare du Lyon
She arrives here with Oliver
Ile de Cite
Where he and Kate walk one evening after supper on the way back to the apartment

Two interweaving love stories take you on a journey from Cornwall to London, Paris to Corsica as the trails of life and love interweave across the decades.

London

Kate Darling finds a painting of a mysterious woman called Celia. Who this woman is and wanting to know more of her mother June’s past, who was a famous ballerina, she sets off on a trail of discovery. Evie, the grandmother who gives her the painting is hiding many secrets. Her trail follows that of Alice and Tom many years before her as she experiences their story too.

Cornwall and Paris

Meeting for the first time when on holiday in Winnard Cove, Cornwall, Tom and Alice are from different sides of the track – Alice is almost of aristocratic stock while Tom is middle class.

Love knows no boundaries however and the two fall in love. War intervenes and they meet again years later at a house party. The world is changing around them

From this party, Alice’s story unfolds as she travels across Europe during one of the most dangerous times in history. The year is 1938 and war is everywhere. Small details show how people saw the occupation –

And it is strange because the German soldiers don’t look like men of war. Most of them look like boys, sunburnt and flushed with excitement.

Corsica

Corsica *Bonifacio Kate explores the old town looking for secrets. She has dinner here with someone. The St Marie Majeure de Bonifacio Church is here *Bonifacio harbour The couple go on a boat to see the famous ‘ Grain du sable’ out at sea *Église Saint-Dominique de Bonifacio La citadelle A church in the old town where Kate explores with Oliver. Escalier du Roi d'Aragon The city is one of fantasy for Kate, built on rock and fortress like
Corsica
*Bonifacio
Kate explores the old town looking for secrets. She has dinner here with someone. The St Marie Majeure de Bonifacio Church is here
*Bonifacio harbour
The couple go on a boat to see the famous ‘ Grain du sable’ out at sea
*Église Saint-Dominique de Bonifacio
La citadelle
A church in the old town where Kate explores with Oliver.
Escalier du Roi d’Aragon
The city is one of fantasy for Kate, built on rock and fortress like

Artist Tom is now an elderly man living on the island of Corsica and when Kate visits him, he tells the tale of a beautiful yet bitter sweet love story which takes them back to England and then Paris during the war and the time of occupation

Corsica is evoked with passion –

“The heat was heavy, tangible and the air shimmered above the dry earth..”

“Corsica is sun and dirt and herbs”

Three  main time periods, each explores the life and lifestyle of the times,

how people acted and made decisions during times such as war. How one decision made one day could have an effect on the future.

What things are lost and which are found…..a story of life itself.

Booktrail review – Susan

Totally and utterly loved this book.  A story which takes  you from the present day to the past and back again. The mystery of a painting found after so many years. And a link to an old Corsican house where secrets unfold and the past slowly comes to light…

I love a good story with a secret which unravels across time and place but this one took on so many emotions such as heartache, regret, nostalgia and sacrifice that I was absolutely engrossed. Kate was an interesting character and I felt I was right beside her every step of the way as she searched for the truth. My heart was in my mouth if I’m honest as I wasn’t sure what she was going to find.

Oh the locations were evocative and mesmerizing – like a treasure trail as one clue led to another. Corsica was a magical place and ideal for the denouement of this story with the history and emotions it involved. I can‘t say much more without giving a clue to the plot but to read this and see it revealed is a joy that I don’t want to spoil for anyone.

Oh and Tom! The story of Alice -the roaring twenties!  I need this to be a film. Right now. That’s how it played out in my mind’s eye after all. I’m still dancing to the music which played in my head.

Sumptuous and delectable in every way.

The Island Escape – Corsica and Sardinia – Kerry Fisher

island escape

Why a booktrail?

Ever wanted to escape to an island far far away? Corsica and Sardinia grab you?

Story

Octavia Shelton’s life was not how she had imagined it. She’s married yes but to safe reliable Jonathan and instead of packing the suitcase and travelling the world with him and free -spirited children, the only packing she does these days is the family’s packed lunches.  The only mountains she climbs are the mounds of dirty washing.

when her best friend’s marriage breaks up, she dreams of escape herself and wonders what would happen if she returned to the islands of Corsica and Sardinia and met the man she used to love?

Place and setting

Bonifacio, Corsica The village and port where she travels across from in the ferry to Sardinia Bonifacio, Corsica  The impressive cathedral and citadel Réserve Naturelle des Bouches de Bonifacio France An impressive nature reserve to see some of the landscapes evoked in the story! - http://www.rnbb.fr/ Santa Teresa di Gallura , sardinia The village where she travels to in Sardinia on the ferry Golfo Aranci The port
Bonifacio, Corsica
The village and port where she travels across from in the ferry to Sardinia
Bonifacio, Corsica
The impressive cathedral and citadel
Réserve Naturelle des Bouches de Bonifacio
France
An impressive nature reserve to see some of the landscapes evoked in the story! – http://www.rnbb.fr/
Santa Teresa di Gallura , Sardinia
The village where she travels to in Sardinia on the ferry
Golfo Aranci
The port

You can imagine the scenario – the drudgery of daily life and marriage and days spent wondering what could have been. Best friends Octavia and Roberta are both in unhappy marriages and so when Roberta’s marriage ends, Octavia starts to get ever restless.

The opening sentence draws you right in to the life and plight of these women –

“I was wearing the wrong bra for sitting in a police cell.”

From then on this is a journey that takes you through the myriad of serious problems that any 30 odd year old woman could be going through – marriage struggles, break ups, career issues, children and inner torment of what might have been

The island part of the story doesn’t come into play in to much later in  the novel that you might expect. Rather this is a tale of two female friends journeying the rocky road of unhappiness together. No sad tale this one though as its full of laughter, humour and wry smiles. As Octavia prepares seeking the man she was once in love with –

Age was my disguise. I put on my sun hat anyway . Less Room with a View and more Carry on Corsica

Once the island comes into play however the affect is summery and mysterious in equal measure –

I almost didn’t want to look across the waves. A little ferry boat made white tracks across the sea, Corsica bound…

But the shadowy clouds of doubt and regret are always on the horizon and Octavia and Roberta have taken very different paths in life, Octavia now searching for her past in the sandy beaches of Corsica. There are many surprises buried there and the digging is a whole lot of fun..

If You Go Away – Adele Parks – England and France

adele parks

Why a booktrail?

How war affects those left behind or those who struggle to see its purpose. How those left behind are left with the most heartbreaking of choices..amazon

Story in a nutshell

1914.

Vivian  – She is young, full of the possibilities of what she will do with her life and excited to be a debutante. However one false move and she is forced to marry in order to cover a potential scandal. On her wedding day however, war breaks out. Not a good omen in any form. Her husband is one of the first to sign up – both of them keen to avoid the disappointment of marriage. vivian is left with running the farm and being left alone to survive.

Howard – He is a brilliant playwright and writer who goes to the front to see the conflict for himself but what he sees shocks him to the core. So when conscriptions becomes law, he doesn’t want to go. Conscientious objectors are outcasts of society and it will take enormous strength to stand by his beliefs. When he gets work on Vivian’s farm, their struggle becomes two sides of the same coin. And everything changes.

Place and setting

The Savoy Hotel in London, where Vivian spends her wedding night; it’s still an incredibly special place to go for cocktails.  The Apollo Theatre in London. In my imagination  Warrington’s Playhouse was about that size and age, although maybe not as smart! Hyde Park Where the speakers stand and challenge government views on the war
The Savoy Hotel in London, where Vivian spends her wedding night; it’s still an incredibly special place to go for cocktails.
The Apollo Theatre in London. 
Warrington’s Playhouse was about that size and age, although maybe not as smart!
Hyde Park
Where the speakers stand and challenge government views on the war

Set just before and during The Great War, this is the story of those left behind and how the horrors of war can filter down into every nook and cranny of life wherever that may be and whoever you might be.

Vivian lives the live of an innocent – a debutante whose only interest, if not purpose in life, is to find a husband and settle down. One wrong move and she is forced to marry someone ‘ suitable’. War is an alien concept to her until her new husband joins up.

Howard meanwhile has been to the front and has seen the detail of destruction. The scenes he sees are horrific, wrong and raw and they leave him with such an impression that he refuses to sign up when the time comes.

The night before a battle was interminable, The divisions lined up in the trenches that had been dug by sappers, silent except for the hard breathing of men, the shuffle of heavy boot and the occasional clink of bayonets.

The Somme - battle of Pozieres Ridge one of the battles mentioned in the book and it is where a memorial now stands known as the windmill. There are several sites here to visit and remember - http://www.cwgc.org/find-a-cemetery/cemetery/87600/POZIERES%20MEMORIAL https://www.google.co.uk/maps/place/The+Windmill/@50.0409527,2.7247926,15z/data=!4m2!3m1!1s0x0000000000000000:0x72047f16d2eaad3e The Somme - Pozieres Charles and Natahniel are known to have been here. On the Albert Bapaume road https://www.google.co.uk/maps/place/Route+de+Bapaume,+80300+Albert,+France/@50.012288,2.674666,17z/data=!3m1!4b1!4m2!3m1!1s0x47dd58e8d478caa9:0x62b3f33f2919e328 Somme - Epehy wood farm the final resting place for many of the men - http://www.cwgc.org/find-a-cemetery/cemetery/60301/Epehy%20Wood%20Farm%20Cemetery,%20Epehy
Dunkirk
The Somme – Battle of Pozieres Ridge – One of the battles mentioned in the book and it is where a memorial now stands known as the windmill. There are several sites here to visit and remember – http://www.cwgc.org/find-a-cemetery/cemetery/87600/POZIERES%20MEMORIAL
https://www.google.co.uk/maps/place/The+Windmill/@50.0409527,2.7247926,15z/data=!4m2!3m1!1s0x0000000000000000:0x72047f16d2eaad3e
The Somme – Pozieres
Charles and Natahniel are known to have been here. On the Albert Bapaume road
https://www.google.co.uk/maps/place/Route+de+Bapaume,+80300+Albert,+France/@50.012288,2.674666,17z/data=!3m1!4b1!4m2!3m1!1s0x47dd58e8d478caa9:0x62b3f33f2919e328
Somme – Epehy wood farm
the final resting place for many of the men – http://www.cwgc.org/find-a-cemetery/cemetery/60301/Epehy%20Wood%20Farm%20Cemetery,%20Epehy

A conscientious objector was not seen in a good light by many – to be any kind of outcast is hard but at a time when tensions were high and the pull of doing what everyone else was doing for the good of your country must have been unbearable.

Howard witnessed what he’d known he would – carnage. He’d seen too many dead bodies to recoil. It was his lack of response that was most repulsive now

Howard comes to live on the farm Vivian runs. Their relationship grows as war casts shadows over both of their lives. Vivian’s husband is still away, and what woman would be allowed to divorce a serving solider? How will their affair be viewed? Doesn’t war heighten every emotion possible?

“They had stepped outside society. People in love did.”

This was a time of war when pressure to conform, pressure to fight, pressure to survive was as great as you an imagine. Put yourself in these people’s shoes and then decide who is right…if you can.

Bookish musings

Adele writes so well about human emotions and the relationships between people that you really get a feel for the characters. I didn’t like Vivian at first but understood why she was attracted to Howard. He was more than a way out from her situation and although I don’t condone her having an affair, it makes you think how these things were viewed years ago and the options for women at the time.

The scenes which really came alive for me were those with Howard and the scenes in war time. You can feel the sweat on the soldiers foreheads and see the fear in their eyes and it’s heartbreaking even reading about it so god knows what it was like for those there. I had never really thought much about the men who stayed behind through choice so that was a nice angle to explore.

With this and the spare brides, Adele really is giving us some unique viewpoints of war and things to think about .

Recommended