Book 'em

Last-minute Christmas shopping list for the Francophiles in your life:


For the one who longs for the South (of France, of course)

Provençal Cooking: Savoring the Simple Life in France, by Mary Ann Caws
A very sweet memoir of cabanon life in the Vaucluse, of Caws’s friendship with the poet René Char, of cave picnics and dinner parties, bramble-fighting and market-going, of animal-loving children and doormice. And it comes with recipes.

For the one who longs for Pigalle

ImagehshNaughty Paris, by Heather Stimmler-Hall
Your go-to guide for all things naughty and pseudo-naughty in Paris. Filled with beautiful photographs, the book works equally well for novices and experts on the City of Light. Who knew, for instance, that there was a parfumier  where you could buy a bottle of “Putain des Palaces” (Palace Hotel Whore) or “Secretions Magnifiques” (what it sounds like)? Saucy, very saucy!

For the historian

31cX3EuuLXL._SL500_AA180_The Discovery of France, by Graham Robb
“Restons francais, soyons gaullois,” sang Jacques Dutronc.  By the time you’ve finished Robb’s book, you’ll wonder what it means, exactly, to “remain French.” Robb takes the reader on an ethnographic bike ride through the heartland of the Hexagon, pointing out the shepherds on stilts along the way, convincing you, by the time you put it down, that La Belle France, myths and cliches aside, is a “vast encyclodepia of micro-civilizations.” Not for nothing did it win the 2008 Ondaatje Prize.

For the book snob

LemoineThe Lemoine Affair, by Marcel Proust (Translated by Charlotte Mandell)
Long before there was Bernie Madoff, there was Henri Lemoine, who claimed he could manufacture diamonds from coal, and made a lot of investors very angry (and a bit less wealthy).  Proust picked up on the scandal and turned it into the occasion to pastiche the writing styles of Balzac, Flaubert, Sainte-Beuve, and the Goncourt Brothersm among others.  Originally published as Pastiches et Melanges, this is the first time the book has appeared in English. Mandell’s translation of Proust’s mimickry is spot-on.


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