france

Dunkirk (2017) DVD

By Christopher Nolan
3
Rated by Emily D.
Apr 27, 2018

The film Dunkirk tells a very important story. During the Second World War the British, French and other allied forces get surrounded at Dunkirk, a beach town in France. The limited Navy and Red-cross ships can't seem to make it back across the channel without being hit by German forces, and British fighter planes don't have the fuel capacity to be of much help. Overall, the situation is very grim. The British Navy commissions the use of any serviceable ship or boat to rescue the 300,000 some odd soldiers trapped at Dunkirk.


Now you are prepared to watch a movie that has virtually no

A Year in the Merde

By Stephen Clarke
4
Rated by Megan C.
Jan 8, 2017

Need a break from American foibles? Here is a perfect chance to laugh at both the English and the French instead.


I loved A Year in Provence, by Peter Mayle, about an expat making a home in the French countryside. His account is filled with plenty of humor and not a little exasperation, but ultimately the author showcases the beauty of the belle vie. Stephen Clarke follows suit with his congenial lambast of French and Parisian culture. His novel (or thinly-disguised tell-all?) takes us away from provincial life and explores the inner workings of professional and urban scenes, with not so

Sep 28, 2016

Ah, if only I'd read this last summer or fall, sometime before my five-month-old was born, because I'm quite drawn to many of the ideas. Some I'd already claimed as my own, some were vague notions that have now been articulated and solidified for me, and some still feel rather surprising and foreign. I'm not one to unquestioningly adopt any model--parenting, leadership, eating, or what you will--without tweaking it and making it my own, but I believe considering and practicing these ideas will make me a more effective parent.


"Model" seems the best word I can think of to describe what

The Nightingale

By Kristin Hannah
5
Rated by Rachel N.
Sep 7, 2016

I was hesitant to start this book. I rarely seek out books about World War II because they bring out a lot of emotions that I'm not always ready to experience. I also find that books with a lot of hype tend to fall below my expectations. I'm really glad I looked past my issues and picked up a copy of The Nightingale. I could not put this book down. The writing was incredibly rich and engaging. I loved how Kristin Hannah chose to tell the story of two sisters, and how they were each brave in their own way. One sister, Isabelle, hatches a plan to lead downed airmen out of France to Spain by way

All the Light We Cannot See

By Anthony Doerr
4
Rated by Megan K.
Aug 8, 2016

Have you ever begun reading a book, and by the first few lines already accepted the fact that you probably will not sleep until the book is finished? All the Light We Cannot See is one of those books for me. I thoroughly enjoy historical fiction books, and this was no exception.


The city in which much of this story takes place- St. Malo, France- is such a beautiful place, and provides an excellent backdrop for many of the events in this book. The story centers around Marie, a sharply intelligent French girl, and Werner, a German boy with the unique talent of working with radios. The story

You Will Be My Son (DVD)

By Gilles Legrand
4
Rated by Sarah A.
Aug 4, 2016

Paul de Marseul is the head of an esteemed family-owned winery in Saint-Emilion, France. He is an extremely overbearing father to his son Martin, who everyone assumes will take over the business one day from his father. But of course things get really interesting when the son of his estate manager returns the golden boy from his time in the Napa Valley.


From award-winning director Gilles Legrand, You Will Be My Son is a very emotionally charged and sympathetic film, with amazingly beautiful scenery of the Bordeaux region of France. The film stars French actor, Niels Arestrup (War Horse, Sar

The Nightingale

By Kristin Hannah
5
Rated by Katie S.
Sep 18, 2015

Viann Rossignol is a loving mother and wife who lives in a small, country town. She has a best-friend who has a daughter the same age as hers and even though she has experienced loss with multiple miscarriages, she still remains content with her life. Her younger sister Isabelle is a rambunctious young woman living in Paris. She always looks for a battle and is not afraid to stand up for herself. Since she and Viann were given up as children by her distant father, Isabelle has always gotten herself thrown into and out of boarding schools across France. Unable to think of anything further to do

The Hundred-foot Journey

By Mirren, Helen
5
Rated by Melody M.K.
May 16, 2015

The movie The Hundred-foot Journey begins in India where an Indian family that loves cooking has a family restaurant. Touched by tragedy during a fire in their restaurant, the head of the family decides they should move to a new country. After some trial and error in finding just the right spot, they come to a lovely village in the south of France and happen upon an empty restaurant for sale. The sale is made and they begin restoration, moving in with not one thought of the 3-star French restaurant across the road from them. Then begins the lovely story of the Indian young man and the French

Aug 21, 2013

From the masculine equestrian outfits that made her Louis XV's favorite, to the regal counterrevolutionary gowns in green and violet that exposed her as an enemy of the state, Marie Antoinette's fashion statements were always unfailingly both fabulous and controversial. In Queen of Fashion, Caroline Weber paints a comprehensive portrait of the fashion icon, from Dauphine until death. Weber is not only a brainy Barnard scholar, but also a fashion connoisseur herself, and her fastidiously researched political fashion memoir satisfied both my inner Vogue subscriber and my inner history nerd.Anyon

May 27, 2013

When Thomas Avery’s son, Daniel, is killed in the Pyrenees, Thomas leaves California to retrieve Daniel’s body.  Once he gets to France, Thomas discovers that Daniel was walking the Camino de Santiago, which is a pilgrimage that is, at its roots, spiritual but is taken for many other reasons.  For his own personal motives, which are both glaringly obvious and maddeningly discreet, Thomas decides to make the pilgrimage.

It felt as if the movie swooped in and folded itself around me.  The scenery was absorbing, Martin Sheen played a convincing and mesmerizing grief-stricken father and the music

Oct 6, 2012

I bought this book at Faulkner House Books on Pirate’s Alley in New Orleans and read at least half of it in the New Orleans airport, on the plane and in the Chicago airport on the way home.  Let’s put it this way:  We were supposed to get home at 6:30 in the evening, but due to delays and a missed connection, we did not actually make it until 4 AM the next morning.  And the book was so readable and interesting that I was actually too absorbed to complain much for most of that night. 

 Powell starts with the establishment of the French village on the banks of the Mississippi in the early

Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein

0
Rated by Bethany T.
Aug 20, 2012

It’s been 24 hours since I’ve finished Code Name Verity, and I am still staring at a wall, recovering.

We first meet our heroine as a prisoner of war in Occupied France, writing down everything she knows about the Allied War Effort to hand over to the Nazis.  She is beaten and starved and in mental anguish over the probable death of her best friend, Maddie, the pilot who crash-landed their plane into France.  But despite the bruises and burns, our narrator is full of spirit and defiance and refuses to let her captors have anything without a struggle—even as she collaborates, she piques and

Mar 30, 2012

This nonfiction Holocaust book is not for the faint of heart, or weak of muscle. Its huge size is a tribute to the tireless work of the author. For over 30 years Serge and Beate Klarsfeld have devoted their lives to bringing Nazis to justice. While the couple is best known for being Nazi hunters, what is perhaps less well known are their numerous publications which have brought Nazi crimes to light. In the late 1970s, Klarsfeld published Le Memorial de la Deportation Des Juifs de France (The Memorial to the Jews Deported from France). It lists the names, birth dates, nationalities, and

Dec 9, 2011

This book could be called a modern science mystery.  It follows the story of Louis XVII, son of Marie Antoinette and Louis XVI, and his older sister.  While his sister survived her imprisonment, remarried and continued her life as part of European royalty, her little brother died under mysterious circumstances at the hands of French revolutionaries.  The official records state that Louis-Charles XVII died in prison at the age of 10 on June 8, 1795 from tuberculosis.  But few contemporaries accepted the official verdict since there was no grave and the witness accounts varied greatly.  Some

Aug 18, 2011

The first in the Rashis’s Daughters trilogy, Joheved is a perfect blend of inspiration, religion and historical fiction. Rashi was a real person who wrote some of the most well-known and studied Torah commentaries in existence. While the name Rashi is widely recognized, little, if anything, is known about his daughters. It was, and for some still is, traditional for fathers to ensure that their sons were taught the Torah and Talmud (commentaries and interpretations of the Torah.) Women were exempt from such learning. While it wasn't expressly forbidden for women to study the Talmud, it was

Aug 2, 2011

Why does the world seem infatuated with French women?  There is something fascinating about them to all of us, and this book tries to uncover the uniqueness of French women.  What French Women Know: About Love, Sex, and Other Matters of the Heart and Mind is written more for entertainment than science.  

The author is an American journalist with a French husband who spent ten years living in France and observing the “la vie en rose” differences between the Anglos and the French.  According to the author, joie de vivre is triggered by the world at large, not by an internal reality, unlike

Jun 29, 2011

Having enjoyed the first three season's of Showtimes "The Tudors", I was anxious to view this fourth and final season.  In this final season, we meet King Henry VIII's last two wives, Katherine Howard and Catherine Parr, who are played beautifully by Tamzin Merchant and Joely Richardson, respectively.  The entire season is comprised of only 10 episodes.  The first five episodes deal with King Henry's affair and marriage to the very young and morally questionable Katherine Howard and his difficulties with his northern subjects, the Scots.  The second five episodes show his subsequent marriage

The Expected One

By Kathleen McGowan
4
Rated by Sandra S.
Dec 2, 2010

Classed as a Mystery Thriller at the local bookstore and as Fiction at JCL, The Expected One follows protagonist journalist Maureen Pascal as she does research for her new novel. In the process, she discovers ancient mysteries involving the Cathar peoples of southwest France and uncovers legends including Mary Magdalene and a gospel that she wrote describing her life as Jesus’ wife and his teachings. Great artistic masters and scientific minds are involved including Sandro Botticelli, Leonardo da Vinci, Isaac Newton. Also involved are John the Baptist, Judas, and Salome. McGowan views her

The Engagement by Georges Simenon

0
Rated by Leslie L.
Nov 9, 2010

The Engagement by Georges SimenonBelgian novelist Georges Simenon is best known for his detective series featuring Parisian policeman Jules Maigret. But he also wrote a number of bleak psychological novels that deal with people whose lives are disrupted by seemingly random happenings or impulses. The Engagement, published in 1933 is about a middle-aged, overweight loner named Mr. Hire who finds social interaction difficult. A prostitute has recently been found murdered in a vacant lot close to Mr. Hire's apartment building and because Mr. Hire is "unusual", he becomes a suspect in the minds of his concierge and the other

Oct 11, 2010

Ysabel by Guy Gavriel KayYsabel, by Guy Gavriel Kay, blends history and fantasy, facts and imagination. Ned Marriner, a 15-year-old from Canada, travels with his father to France. His father, a famous photographer, is there to shoot pictures for his next book. What starts off as a vacation for Ned quickly turns dark and confusing as first he meets an American girl, Kate Wenger, and together they run into a strange and frightening man. Who is this man? Where did he come from? What, if anything is his connection to Ned? Why is Ned experiencing what can best be described as paranormal, supernatural? Ned and Kate get

Aug 31, 2010

Confessions of Catherine de Medici by C.W. GortnerA rich and very believable retelling of internecine power struggles in Renaissance France, as told by  Catherine de Medici, one of history's more controversial women.   No great beauty, no great romantic figure, Catherine found it necessary to rely on her shrewd intelligence to survive a licencious and malicious court...and navigate the political and religious upheavals of the late 16th Century.  She is determined to prevail, to prove her worth to France, and  do her utmost to protect the Valois throne.  Was she a witch, a murderess, a mastermind of the infamous St. Bartholomew's Day  Massacre

Aug 24, 2010

The Elegance of the Hedgehog by Muriel BarberyA friend said it was the best book she’s read in a long time, so I took The Elegance of the Hedgehog on my vacation – seemed perfect, nice little paperback to travel easy with plenty of time to read. After a couple of chapters I was not feeling the same love as my friend, but I was stuck in a hotel room with only that book, so I plodded on. I’m glad I did. Author Muriel Barbery has crafted a novel that is really a work of philosophy – definitely not a beach read – but a gem for the soul. The beautiful language draws you into the story of middle-aged Madame Michael, “fat and ugly” as she calls

Hotel Pastis by Peter Mayle

0
Rated by Susan B.
Jun 29, 2010

Peter Mayle has written delightful non-fiction accounts of his life in Provence--this switch to fiction, while equally delightful, appears somewhat authobiographical (both Mayle and the main character leave high-powered advertising jobs to find fulfillment in France), incorporating his love of Provence and its good food with a rather comical bank heist and kidnapping.  This is not a deep discourse on anything but it displays Mayle's affection and appreciation for this part of the world, and the book provides an entertaining and appetizing way to spend a lazy summer afternoon, if you're ever

Beyond the Grave by Pierre Magnan

0
Rated by Susan B.
May 27, 2010

beyond-the-grave.jpegThe enigmatic Seraphin Monge, the central character of The Murdered  House, reappears in this sequel for only the first third as a living character, but his presence pervades the story and the actions of the two women who were most in love with him.  This is a dark, noirish tale, set in Provence and so atmospheric one would think it is the middle of the seventeenth century, but it is actually set right after the first World War, and continues through the end of the Deuxieme Guerre Mondiale.  Magnan has been called the master of Provencal gothic, and he evokes the peasant superstitions, the

May 22, 2010

By Tilar J. Mazzeo (Published 2009)

This well researched non-fiction book tells a fascinating story of one of the early champagne tycoons, Barbe-Nicole Ponsardin. As the daughter of a prosperous Reims merchant, she married into the Cliquot champagne family. She found herself widowed at a young age and took charge of the cellars, improving the process of making champagne and turning the family business into a very successful venture, an unusual task and accomplishment for a woman in the 1700s. In times when women were not part of the business world, she cleverly ran the business via her German

Apr 16, 2010

YA Fiction Sally Gardner Sido the neglected daughter of French aristocrat, Marquis de Villeduval, has lived most of her 12 years in the convent she was sent to after her mother’s death. She hopes for a positive turn to her life when she is retrieved for a grand fete at her father’s new chateau at the request of her father’s acquaintance, the sinister Count Kalliovski. Here she helps the strange gypsy boy Yann Margoza, assistant to a murdered magician to escape from the hands of the count’s evil henchman, Milkeye. Their time together is brief; but, results in a strong and mysterious bond. Two

Apr 15, 2010

holy-smoke.JPGWinner of three prestigioius awards, Holy Smoke did not disappoint. Antonio Polsinelli has worked very hard to distance himself from his Italian upbringing, living in Paris and speaking only French. But, a mystery arises from the Italian community that Antonio has escaped from, dragging him back, kicking and screaming. After his childhood friend, Dario, dies and Antionio is shot in his own apartment, he finds himself intrigued, despite his misgivings and begins to investigate just what his friend was up to. Once back in Italy, Antonio is completey involved and must see Dario's plan through to

Dec 23, 2008

When I started reading this book I thought it a little too literary for my taste and spent too much time toggling between the book and my dictionary. It is at heart, a philosophical novel, with characters who read Marx and The German Ideology, while others contemplate Japanese suppuku. My opinion changed on exactly page 108 with a misplaced comma. Renee Michel, who is the concierge at an apartment building inhabited by wealthy people, finds this an underhanded attack. Despite a great appreciation for art and literature, she retreats to her loge and hides her true self from those who don't