Cheri by Colette

While there is no one to like in Colette’s novel Cheri, there is much to like. Cheri, a young man in his early 20’s, is the spoiled child of wealth.  He has spent the last six years as the kept pet of Lea, the much older lifelong friend of his mother.  Before Cheri was old enough to have affairs, Lea went through a series of … Continue reading Cheri by Colette

A Man’s Head by Georges Simenon

The trouble with Georges Simenon’s Maigret novels is that what makes them good is also whats makes them hard to write about. I’ve created this little reading project to collect and read all 75 of Georges Simenon’s Inspector Maigret novels as Penguin republishes all of them in these shiny new editions with these cool covers. It’s been fun so far.  That it will take nearly … Continue reading A Man’s Head by Georges Simenon

A Simple Heart by Gustave Flaubert

I was surprised by how this book touched me. Translated from the French by Charlotte Mandell, Gustave Flaubert’s A Simple Heart  tells the story of Félicité , a lifelong servant, and her search for someone to love. Félicité lives a very limited life, only rarely leaving the home of Madame Aubain her employer for over fifty years.  In her youth, Félicité has one great love who abandons her … Continue reading A Simple Heart by Gustave Flaubert

The Man Who Watched Trains Go By by Simenon

This is a roman durs, or hard novel.  Which is not to say that is is difficult reading, it’s not, rather that it is about a hard life.  Roman durs, at least the ones by Simenon that I have read, are about lives led on the wrong side of the tracks, typically criminal in some aspect.  They do not end happily. They are a dark sub-set … Continue reading The Man Who Watched Trains Go By by Simenon

The Yellow Dog by Georges Simenon

Inspector Maigret is not bothered (dot com.) Someone accuses him of dragging  his feet with the investigation, someone else says the police have arrested the wrong man, another refuses to answer questions… Inspector Maigret simply shrugs his shoulders and moves on like nothing matters anyway.  He’ll solve the crime soon enough. #MaigretIsNotBotheredDotCom. It’s a great state of mind for a noir detective to be in, … Continue reading The Yellow Dog by Georges Simenon

Carmen by Prosper Merimee

Notorious highwayman Don Jose Navarro is in prison, awaiting his execution.  He spends the final hours of his life telling a stranger the story of Carmen, the wild gypsy woman he met in Seville who led him into a life of crime before the fateful day when he shot her in a fit of jealousy. Prosper Merimee’s novella is probably the first time a gypsy … Continue reading Carmen by Prosper Merimee

The First Century After Beatrice by Amin Maalouf

What if you could guarantee the birth of a boy?  Would you? Some of the best science fiction starts out with a simple premise, like the desire to have sons, and spins it out to its disastrous end.  Throughout history, throughout most of the world, sons have been desired over daughters.  This is still the case in much of the modern world and has been … Continue reading The First Century After Beatrice by Amin Maalouf

The Hanged Man of Saint-Pholien by Georges Simenon

I’m starting to re-think this thing. When Penguin announced they would publish all 75 of Georges Simenon’s Inspector Maigret novels in order, one per month over six years, I took on the challenge of buying and reading them all.  I’m a fan of Simenon and Inspector Maigret, the covers are really cool, each book is about 120 pages long which is just two days reading … Continue reading The Hanged Man of Saint-Pholien by Georges Simenon

Hate: A Romance by Tristan Garcia, translated from the French by Marion Duvert and Lorin Stein

Admit it. In your past, probably in your youth, there was someone who broke up with you who left you feeling so hurt, so angry, that you plotted revenge.  Maybe just for an hour, maybe for a week, but for a while there, what you thought was love turned briefly into hate. Fortunately, you came your senses pretty quickly and moved on, but what if … Continue reading Hate: A Romance by Tristan Garcia, translated from the French by Marion Duvert and Lorin Stein

The Horla by Guy de Maupassant Translated from the French by Charlotte Mandell

One man descends into madness.  One author visits this story three times, working it again and again as he descends himself serving time in an asylum between versions.  First published in the newspaper, then re-written as a letter and finally a long version published shortly before the author was institutionalized. The Horla is Guy de Maupassant’s story of how one man succumbs to madness. It’s very … Continue reading The Horla by Guy de Maupassant Translated from the French by Charlotte Mandell

Fanfarlo by Charles Baudelaire

Samuel Cramer, a “passionate atheist” circa 1820 Paris, meets a kindred spirit who happens to be a married woman.  She tells him of her husband’s affair with a popular dancer, Fanfarlo.  As a favor to her, Cramer begins to pan the popular actress/dancer in his daily newspaper column.  After several months he finally meets Fanfarlo who insists he explain himself. After he tells her that … Continue reading Fanfarlo by Charles Baudelaire

An Accident in August by Laurence Cosse

Driving home late one night a young French woman enters the Alma tunnel where her car is sideswiped by a Mercedes which then crashes into the center divider.  Frightened and alone, she fearing for what her life will become if she stays on the scene, she decides to flee. Soon, she realizes that the car which hit her belonged to Dodi al Fayed, his passenger Lady … Continue reading An Accident in August by Laurence Cosse