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Book to Set the Being-in-France Mood?

Looking for a book to read while in France to enhance my excitement of being there!

Will be visiting the Lille area and also Paris...

My favorite types of books are novels, but open to anything!

Posted by
11444 posts

So many I liked!

  • The Paris Library
  • Treasure of Saint-Lazare
  • The Sweet Life in Paris by David Lebowitz (not a novel)
  • The Dressmaker’s Gift
  • The Paris Secret
  • The Lost Girls of Paris
  • The Winemaker’s Wife
  • A Hero of France
  • Paris by Edward Rutherford

That should get you started!

Posted by
32 posts

Excellent, Laurel! Thank you!

Follow up question... If you had to pick one... (Or possibly two!) What would you pick?

I will be there later this month and I'm a slow reader!

Posted by
11444 posts

Not “Paris,” then. Very long, epic novel.

David Lebowitz’ book is very Paris-today (might give you ideas) and then “A Hero of France” for contrast. The latter is one of the best WWII novels I have read and I have read a lot of them. If you want something more feminine-focused, “The Paris Dressmaker.”

Posted by
543 posts

To get in the mood for my trip to Paris last year, I readthe book The Chateau by William Maxwell.

I really enjoyed the book.

A quick summary:

It is 1948 and a young American couple arrive in France for a holiday, full of anticipation and enthusiasm. But the countryside and people are war-battered, and their reception at the Chateau Beaumesnil is not all the open-hearted Americans could wish for.

The first third of the book is Harold and Barbara's stay at the chateau. The most of the rest of the book takes place in Paris, where they continue the relations they formed in at the chateau. The book is full of the thoughts and doubts one has when trying to establish acquaintances in a foreign land and in a foreign tongue. Some of the problems when “trying to live like a local”.

I found the story very interesting, and there were a few situations where I felt the same as Harold. Beyond the story, it was fun to observe the way they traveled. Harold and Barbara took one suitcase full of sugar, coffee, toilet paper, and American cigarettes. And what didn't American Expess do?

Posted by
4062 posts

Paris to the Moon, by Adam Gopnick. All-purpose intellect at the New Yorker magazine, Gopnick was posted to Paris at the end of the 20th Century and wrote about everyday life. He sees his neighbourhood at least partly through the eyes of his then-young son. Inevitably some of the info is now dated but the charm endures.

Posted by
32 posts

Getting Paris to the Moon from the library today and requested The Chateau, the Paris Dressmaker and The Sweet Life in Paris.

Posted by
6622 posts

"Paris to the Moon" is very good, and Gopnik was easier to read then than he is now, I think. All of Alan Furst's WWII spy novels are very good, I think several are better than "A Hero of France," all have at least some plot elements set in Paris. If you like mysteries featuring plucky detective heroines, try any of Cara Black's Paris-based series, "Murder in the Marais," "Murder in Clichy," "Murder in Montmartre," etc. After three or four I'd had enough, but one or two are fun as Aimee Leduc charges around Paris solving crimes and getting into trouble. "Is Paris Burning?" is history but reads like a novel, about the days before the city's liberation in 1945 when the German commander ignored Hitler's orders to destroy it.

Posted by
32 posts

Kim, thank you, I looked for a thread like this but couldn't find it! I appreciate the link...

My sister just picked up from Paris to the Moon for me, and it turns out the library only had a hardback...

I should probably print out these excellent lists and see what's available in paperback if I'm going to take it with me...

Posted by
185 posts
  1. Wine & War by Don and Petie Kladstrup. It explores how wine is intertwined with the national identity in France and the lengths the French went to to protect it during WW2.
  2. The Paris Architect by Charles Belfour. It is my favourite WW2 historical fiction story. You will look differently at the architecture of the homes and apartments in Paris after reading it. It will stimulate your imagination for spaces.