Paris In July II: A Little Advice, Please

Behold the French literature which is already in my nook (click on each title to visit the link at Barnes and Noble):

The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexander Dumas
Eugenie Grandet by Honore de Balzac
Les Miserables by Victor Hugo
Lost Illusions by Honore de Balzac
Madame Bovary by Gustave Flaubert
The Man in The Iron Mask by Alexandre Dumas
Nana by Emile Zola
The Phantom of The Opera by Gaston Leroux
Pierre and Jean by Guy de Maupassant
The Collected Stories of Guy de Maupassant
Sentimental Education by Gustave Flaubert
The Three Musketeers by Alexandre Dumas
Such a selection to choose from for the Paris in July II that I’m baffled. Have already read Madame Bovary (three times), The Count of Mont Cristo, and Les Miserables. Loved Therese Raquin which I read last year.๏ปฟ I should also add that I’ve read Candide (in French!), Around The World in 80 Days, and of course Le Petit Prince (also in French). I think that’s it, but it’s just a drop in the bucket when I look at what’s around me.

Have you any suggestions for what to read this year? Where to start? Care to join me in any of the above titles? I’d love your input!

42 thoughts on “Paris In July II: A Little Advice, Please

  1. what a great list! I've only read Madame Bovary (with Frances, last year), so I can't help. But I should! I'm looking forward to your thoughts on any of them. Audrey

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  2. Does A Moveable Feast count for Paris In July do you think? I'm still waiting in line for it from the public library. Meanwhile, still ploughing through Tender is the Night. Probably watching a French movie may be faster than finishing a book, for me. ๐Ÿ˜‰ Happy touring!

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  3. That is a wonderful list, Bellezza! Alexandre Dumas is one of my favourite writers ๐Ÿ™‚ If I can add some more suggestions : (1) We'll Always Have Paris by John Baxter(2) Time was soft there by Jeremy Mercer (about the Shakespeare bookstore in Paris)(3) France : A Traveler's Literary Companion by Ann Livia(4) The Elegance of the Hedgehog by Muriel Barbery (I am pretty sure you have already read it, but still I thought I will include it :))

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  4. I read so much French literature in my bilingual high school years and college that I can be of great help here (and I am modest, too :))Flaubert and Zola are among my favorite French classic writers, so I would go with them, but how about some French poetry (Baudelaire, Verlaine, Rimbaud) or Moliere, just for a few laughs? ๐Ÿ™‚ Have you tried Andre Gide (les faux-monnayeurs)or Boris Vian (l'ecume des jours)?

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  5. I love deMaupassant's stories, and you can pick and choose among them, if that helps. You have excellent stuff loaded–good luck, Bellezza! I'll enjoy reading your thoughts on any and/or all of them!

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  6. Wonderful selection of French classics.I wish there were more translations of modern French authors.It is still very difficult to find such books. I read in French, but to have a French Challenge would be very difficult :(Have a wonderful week-end Meredith

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  7. Fascinating list! Just want to put in a word for Jules Verne, especially Journey to the Center of the Earth. This is a great adventure story with a surprising twist at the end and the contrast between the characters of the adventurers is sometimes quite amusingly presented. I want to read some Balzac this year and look forward to your thoughts. Susan E.

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  8. That is a wonderful list–I wouldn't know where to start, either! Apparently I've read more French lit. than I realized though, as there are quite a few here I've read: The Count of Monte Cristo, Three Musketeers, A Journey the the Center of the Earth, and The Phantom of the Opera. (Plus one other Verne you don't have listed.) I enjoyed all of them, although probably the Dumas more than the Verne.

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  9. Let's see…I enjoyed The Three Muskateers far more than Count of Monte Cristo! As you've already read Dumas, you know he's a fast, light kind of read. ๐Ÿ˜‰ I loved The Phantom of the Opera when I was 11, but I reread it last year and was amused to discover the writing is pretty atrocious. Imagine Victorian sentamentalism in a French setting. Still, if you're in the mood for a 'trashy' classic, it'll be fun! Twenty Thousand Leagues Under The Sea was quite neat: another 'light' read and it was fascinating to see a sci-fi classic. It definitely left me wanting to read more of Verne. I very much enjoyed meeting Captain Nemo. ๐Ÿ˜€ I loved The Hunchback of Notre Dame; I also loved Les Mis, and it's very much written in the same style (lots of random diversions, philosophical asides, etc.). Maupassant's short stories have always been a favourite of mine, although it's been awhile since I've read them! I've only read one Balzac, Cousin Bette, but I really enjoyed it and keep meaning to read more of him. I've only read one each of Flaubert and Zola too; I can't say my experience with The Ladies' Paradise left me in any hurry to read more of the latter though.Now I might have to run over to the library and put some French classics on hold! I do enjoy them and haven't given them enough attention since I left college. And if you're looking for more suggestions, I have to throw Colette out there, one of my very favourite Frenchies! First of all, it'd be nice to add a woman to your list, and she's so fun and thought-provoking all at once.

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  10. My choices would be "The Man in The Iron Mask by Alexandre Dumas" one of my favorites and one of the few contemporary French language writers to be translated "Amelie Nothomb" she was raised in Japan her father was a diplomat, so her novels reflect some Japanese flavor even so they are truly French. B&N or Amazon.com carry some of the translated works.

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  11. I'd go with The Hunchback of Notre Dame because it's so much fun first of all. Second, it all takes place in Paris and there's lots about Paris in the book. And there's a terrific old movie you can watch afterwards."I wish I were made of stone like thou." Great stuff.

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  12. I would say, go for Zola, easier for the summer. Another great romantic that's not on your list here is Stendhal – The Red and The Black.and also, apart from that:I would like to recommend to you all The Greater Journey, by David McCullough, about Americans in Paris between 1830-1900; it is a fantastic book, that fits perfectly here. You will love it! here is my review: http://wordsandpeace.wordpress.com/2011/06/13/my-review-45-the-greater-journey/Emma @ Words And Peace [PS: I'm French, living in the US, and have read all these French classics in my younger years]

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  13. I have read 3, maybe 4, of these books, during my school years… My ultimate recommendation for French literature is St Exupery's The Little Prince, a magical book (and very short read)!

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  14. Zola _ Earth, Anatole France -Revolt of the angels,Albert Camus – The plague, Selected Poems of Rene Char, Paul Eluard -http://www.poetryintranslation.com/PITBR/French/Eluard.htm .thanks my daughter loved your comment.

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  15. You have so many wonderful novels to choose from. I really liked The Count of Monte Cristo but so many others seems to really hate it. I just bought the Phantom of the Opera book at my library's used bookstore. Enjoy your reads whatever you end up deciding to delve into!

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  16. Audrey, I hope you didn't have the awfully-difficult-to-appreciate new translation (or was that for Dr. Zhivago? I'm getting muddled!) of Madame Bovary. The Barnes and Noble translation is especially good believe it or not. I've never been disappointed with their classic series, especially when they were free for my Nook last summer.Anthony, your vote is duly noted. Love Flaubert.Arti, perhaps we have a little leniency to count A Moveable Feast for Paris in July II even though I read it June 30. I'm not such a terrible stickler for things like One Day Apart. Of course, I'm not in charge of the challenge, either, so my permission wouldn't be official. I think a French film would be just the ticket, as well, and if we watched it with subtitles all the better!Arti,

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  17. Vishy, I'd really like to read John Baxter especially since every one was raving about his book The Most Beautiful Walk in The World. Love your other suggestions, too, although you're right: I have read, and enjoyed The Elegance Of The Hedgehog. Except for the ending which still distresses me.Ally, I didn't know you had such a background in French literature! (I took six years of the language, during which I read a few French books, but I've not taken French literature classes.) I appreciate you mentioning the French poets, all of which are new to me except for Baudelaire. Great idea! ds, although I've never been much of a short story person, both Murakami and F. Scott Fitzgerald, (Oh, and Raymond Carver!) are changing that. I think I could quite enjoy some of Guy de Maupassant's short stories, a collection of which I've been rather leaning toward. When Barnes and Noble offered so many of their classics for free on the Nook last year, I scooped up as many as I could. Now I'm set to read for forever it seems!

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  18. Madeleine, I envy your ability to read in French. Mine is far gone from me now. Do you read the French classics in English?Susan, I loved Verne's book Around the World in 80 Days so I can well see why you might recommend him. That's the only one of his I've read, although I did have luncheon on the top of the Eiffel tower in the Jules Verne restaurant. Which wouldn't count for literature, I know. ;)Simplerpasttimes, I'd love to read The Three Musketeers sometime. One always hears that book referred to, and I have little point of reference in such instances! Although, I tend to tease my father and his two sisters as being the three musketeers. One for all, and all for one, and all that.

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  19. Eva, what a wonderful long comment you've left me! You give such valuable information, I really appreciate it when you take the time to do so. I love your thoughts on the authors you spoke of, but I think your idea of Colette is the best! Of course, a woman! What a great idea! For that matter, how about some Simone de Beauvior? (Looking forward to reading Mathilde with you this August for Frances' plan with the novella if that still works for you.)Madeleine, thanks for revisiting and leaving me with the name Amelie Nothomb, which is totally new to me! You have such a wealth of knowledge in this genre!C.B. James, amazed that you can remember quotes from Hunchback. I saw the rather ridiculous film by Disney with my son when he was little, but I think it would behoove me to read the novel. ๐Ÿ™‚

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  20. WordsandPeace, I've wanted to read The Red and The Black for a long time now! Somehow, I've been a bit intimidated by it, but maybe now I can pick it up along with some courage. I ordered David McCullough's new book from amazon.com hearing just fabulous things about it. I've not read anything by him, either, but so many people love his historical fiction (on Washington and Jefferson, I believe?). Thanks for the great ideas!Em, I love Le Petit Prince. I read it several times in English, and even a few in French. I also have purchased St. Exupery's Vol de Nuit (after reading that Guerlain named one of their more famous perfumes after it. Two of my weakest temptations: books and perfume. Sounds like a new blog name, doesn't it?)Parrish Lanter, Camus? Really? I don't know if I can stand such doom and gloom right now, during summer vacation! He's one author who really intimidates me, but I do love Zola. And, always glad to tell your daughter truthful compliments! Don't forget, I'm an expert in her age group!

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  21. Kathleen, I've neither read the book, nor seen the film, for The Phantom of The Opera. I am familiar with the music, though, as my father bought the CD back in the day when it was so popular on Broadway. Like Hunchback, and a few others, it seems one who calls herself literate should really have read that by now! (Speaking of myself, here, of course.)

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  22. I am about 1/2 way through with The Hunch Back of Notre Dame (reading it via Dailylit.com)-I really like it much more than I thought I might-all of it good and parts are great-I have been reading short stories by de Maupassant for a while now-some are as good as it gets and some are just OK-I just read and posted on Alfred Jarry's 1896 play Ubo Roi-very worth reading, very different-I plan to read and post on short stories by at least Sarte and Camus also-I will look forward to seeing what you read-

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  23. An excellent list! Zola would be my first choice. I'm planning to read Zola's The Belly of Paris this summer and also some de Maupassant stories… will get to Balzac one of these days.

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  24. Forgot to mention one more thing, Bellezza. If you are planning to read Alexandre Dumas' 'The Three Musketeers', I would recommend the movie version too, starring Gene Kelly and Lana Turner. We are big fans of 'The Three Musketeers' in my home – it is one book which my mom, my dad, my sister and I have read. A few years back, I watched the movie version with my mom and it was wonderful! Gene Kelly plays the role of D'Artagnan and it is real fun!

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  25. Hi, just wanted to let you know I've added your entry to the literary blog directory: http://tinylibrary.blogspot.com/p/literary-blog-directory.html Hope you find some great blogs through it and also get some new readers. There's a button on my blog for you to use.And out of your list, I've only read Madame Bovary, which I very much enjoyed. I would vote for 20,000 leagues under the sea as it's supposed to be a great adventure story.

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  26. Mel, I'm feeling a pull toward short stories, myself, for the first time in my life. I think a large part of this is due to the fact that I enjoyed Fitzgerald's collection so much! Thanks for suggesting I open de Maupassant's.Suko, it's rather an overwhelming collection, isn't it? So many (all) of them were free for the nook last summer, so I couldn't help but download them. :)Chasing Bawa, thanks for the suggestions. Dumas is always a good read, and I loved the music for Phantom of The Opera…now I just have to see if I'll love the book.

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  27. Vishy, I don't know any of those films you recommended. But, I do have a happy image of you and your family enjoying them. Bina, I loved Zola last year when I read Therese Raquin, so thanks for suggesting this other work of his which is totally new to me.Tiny Library, thanks for adding me to your literary blog directory. I really enjoyed Vernes' Around The World in 80 Days so I can well imagine I'd like Journey to The Center of The Earth. It's sort of like James Bond writes French novels, in a way. If that makes sense.

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  28. Wow! You have a very impressive list there! I would have said Madame Bovary but it sounds like you have already read that quite a few times, I've only read it once but am thinking about reading it again for this month… Sorry – I seem to be thinking more about my own reading choices now so I'm not being much help!!

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  29. Karen, you were a help when I visited your blog and saw all the modern choices you're deciding between. Great stuff, isn't it, all the French novels we have available?Frances, I'm sure we'll probably overlap again, as friends and bibliophiles tend to do. It's always my pleasure to read what you're reading, though; I'm leaning very heavily toward Guy de Maupassant and hope you'll join me for some/all of him.

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  30. What a fantastic load of books to be totting around. I've only read a couple of French classics, but was wowed by both of them- Madame Bovary and The Three Musketeers. French classics are certainly a world apart from those of Austen and the Brontes for instance. I blogged TTM rather enthusiastically last yearhttp://astrongbeliefinwicker.blogspot.com/2010/10/three-musketeers-and-some-random-paris.htmlI'm sure whichever classic you choose will provide you with its own special charms.

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  31. Oh my goodness, friends, I've had difficulty getting into books from this list. First, I tried Guy de Maupassant's collection of short stories, because I've developed a passion for this genre after reading Flappers and Philosophers. But, I couldn't enjoy de Maupassant's…they seemed very disjointed.Then, I tried Balzac's Lost Illusions. Struggled through the father and son printer's business, and the transferring of it from the eldest to his son…struggled through the meeting of said son to Lucien…when we got into yet another long (pointless?) description of someone else, going back to the beginning of time in her geneological records, I could bear no more.Tried The Phantom of The Opera but my edition on the nook was full of those little squiggles and symbols which sometime occur when one has downloaded a book for free from Google. (What did Heinlein say in The Moon Is A Harsh Mistress? "There's no such thing as a free lunch?")So, now I'm involved in Mavis Gallant's Paris Stories and enjoying them very much. Plus, I can read what I've committed myself to review in between them. So far, I highly recommend her collection.

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  32. I'm glad my comment was helpful; I get terribly rambly in the face of long booklists. ๐Ÿ˜‰ I've yet to read Simone de beauvior. ๐Ÿ˜ฎ And I call myself a feminist! lol I'll work up to her one of these days.And yes, Mathilde definitely still works for me: looking forward to it!As for Colette, I tend to enjoy starting new-to-me authors at the beginning. Her first published ones were the Claudine quartet (beginning w Claudine at School) which were semi-autobiographical and charming, although Claudine's a bit of a vixen. ๐Ÿ˜‰ (I've read the first two and have just put in an ILL request so I can read the last two-didn't realise my new library doesn't carry a copy!) If you're looking for something a little more thoughtful/nostalgic, go for Cheri. And if My Mother's House was a wonderful blend of 'fictionalised memoir' that made me fall in love with Colette's family, or at least her own memories of them! I began with Gigi, but I had the creepy song from the musical film version running through my head almost the whole time, which spoiled the reading experience a bit. If you haven't seen the film, it'd be as good a place to start as any!I have Balzac's Black Sheep out from library right now; I hope I get along with it better than you did w Lost Illusions! I also have two more contemporary French authors on hold: Sebastien Japrisot (The Sleeping Car Murders) and Laurence Cosse (A Novel Bookstore).(Also, I usually use Manybooks.net for my free classics: I've yet to run into nearly as many problems w the files as I do w Google ones! And now I've left another ridiculously long comment. *blushes*)

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  33. Eva, your 'long' comments are never too long for me! I love having such an in-depth response (for being online, rather than in person this is a real treat!). Glad to know which titles you suggest for Colette, glad to know Mathilde still works for you, and hope you like Balzac. Maybe for me it was just bad timing. I'll check outo manybooks.com; thanks for that link, too.

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