Armchair Traveler: Great Books Set in France in Honor of Bastille Day
Bastille Day fireworks in Paris (Photo: Yann Caradec/Flickr)
Vive la France! Around this time of year, two big things happen in France: the French independence day and the beginning of summer vacation. July 14, or Le quatorze juillet, commemorates the French Revolution. On Le quatorze juillet, there will be dancing in the streets and fireworks, for this also marks the beginning of the summer vacation. Parisians sometimes refer to this date as Le grand départ (the big departure), a holiday period that lasts a month and ends with La grande rentrée (the big return).
So, as everybody heads for the coasts, mountains, and vineyards, pack up your books and settle in for a Parisian literary adventure. Below is a list of four French books for you to enjoy this summer, followed by nine more that I simply adore. (Note: I’ve listed the names of translators because they make the book great in English.)
(Photo: MacLehose Press)
Alex, by Pierre Lemaitre
Translated by Frank Wynne
Alex won all of the crime writing prizes last year. In this, the second of the Camille Verhœven Trilogy, the diminutive detective is manipulated into taking on a case of kidnapping. A young woman has been abducted on the streets of Paris and is being held in unspeakable conditions. What begins as a race to find the girl alive takes a darker and more sinister turn as it becomes unclear who is the monster and who is the victim. This book has fiendish twists and incredible suspense. Nothing here is as it seems.