Tag Archives: paris

The Little French Bistro (Nina George)

21 Jun

I was excited to read The Little French Bistro because I enjoyed The Little Paris Bookshop a lot. I really felt for Marianne at the beginning of the novel when some man rescues her from her suicide attempt. Why couldn’t he just leave her alone? Then, we get more information about how loveless her marriage is (husband leaves her to make her own way home!), so I’m happy that she finds some courage to make it to the coast of Brittany and start a new life.

 

Little French Bistro Squinklethoughts

1.  The author does a great job portraying the small-town charms of the small town that Marianne finds herself in. There is an interesting (but large) cast of secondary characters that envelop Marianne in their lives. I felt that some of the friendships came a bit too easily. Maybe it’s because I don’t reveal myself as easily as Marianne does, or maybe it’s because I don’t live in a small town, but that part felt a little unrealistic. So, too, does the fact that Marianne is able to find a good job and place to live within a day or so of landing at the coast. Is it really that easy? Especially considering Marianne is now in her 60s, I think? I am happy that she is able to reinvent herself, but I would have liked a little more struggle — a few more obstacles besides the sometimes dark thoughts that run around her head — before she could settle in to her new routine.

2.  The ending was definitely a surprise, and I think it saved the story for me. As the novel progressed, I sort of got lost in all of the names of the characters, which meant that there were a few too many for my liking. I liked being alongside Marianne as she grew in her role at the restaurant, but all the other stuff outside of the day-to-day, which is usually what interests me more, didn’t do it for me this time round.

3.  I’d recommend the book for anyone who likes stories about the French seaside, women’s growth, and happy endings … with the caveat that they’d have to adopt a little willing suspension of disbelief, and wade through lots of interactions with Breton neighbours before getting to the good ending.  I’d say that this was just under 4 stars for me.

 

3.5 Squinkles

 

Nina George’s Online Corners
Website | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads | Chapters/Indigo

 

Thank you, First to Read, for sending me a copy of
The Little French Bistro in exchange for an honest review.

All Squinklethoughts expressed herein are entirely my own.

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The Little Paris Bookshop (Nina George)

9 Sep

Of all the stories I read this year, I think the Little Paris Bookshop has given me the biggest book hangover yet. When I was done with it, I simply handed it to my mom and said, “Read it. Trust me.” And she did. And she loved it, too.

 

Little Paris Bookshop 

Squinklethoughts

1. The title hooked me right away. “Paris” and “bookshop”? Yes, please. (My site tagline is “Bouquets de Bouquins” … Doesn’t that tell you something?) Someday, I’m going to go to Paris and be chuckled at for my franglais and my accent québécois, and I will drink my café and have un temps merveilleux.

2. The cover is gorgeous. You know me: I absolutely judge books by their covers. And this one has cotton-candy colours of sunset with the Eiffel Tower in the background. Just delicious and completely enticing.

3. There is a map! I can’t begin to tell you how much that fact made reading this book much more pleasant. I seriously think that all books should have maps in them. A writer’s imagery, no matter how well done, can only allow me to visualize individual scenes in my head, but I need them all stitched up in a map, so I know where the characters geographically are. Jean and his companions travel down the River Seine, and it was great to see where along the waterways each chapter occurred.

4. I am a fan of bittersweet moments. I don’t always like them in my own life, so when I encounter characters like Jean, whose life has been full of some sweet but mostly bitter moments, I’m hooked. And that he was the cause of his own sufferings? Captivatingly cathartic.

5. The narrative is particularly beautiful. I’m not sure if it can be wholly attributed to Nina George or to the translators, but there are many lyrical phrases in the book that made me smile.

 

Little Paris Bookshop - Quotes 

6. I know some people didn’t like this story. They thought it was overly simplistic or overly cloying or overly clichéd. I understand – if what they were looking for was a story of grand gestures and perilous adventures and harrowing revelations. For some, they couldn’t connect to Jean or understand his current place in life, but I think it’s because some people skate over the 20 years (and counting) that Jean spends in misery. Once we’re past gut-wrenching moments, it’s often way too easy to forget what it meant to live each minute with heartache. (Being bullied all through elementary school? Oh, yeah, it wasn’t that bad. Eating by yourself at lunch throughout high school? Oh, well, it wasn’t terrible.) Twenty years: that’s 10 512 000 sorrowful minutes that Jean lived through to get to where he is in the story. And this is what I truly appreciate about the Little Paris Bookshop – the author and the book itself appreciate what it means to live practically an entire life with a gnawing feeling in your stomach and an empty hole in your heart.

7. For me, this story speaks to all those quiet moments in the morning, by yourself, smiling at a happy memory from 20 years back, and finding your eyes full of tears. This was all about those lazy summer days of sipping iced tea at Starbucks, flipping through a magazine, only to be greeted by an article outlining the successes of the girl who made your school years a living hell. This was about that poignant feeling I get now, after waving thanks to my student’s grandfather for dropping him off at school, and remembering that I don’t have my grandpa anymore.

8. I love the concept of a book apothecary. Can you imagine being able to read people as easily as Jean Perdu does? And, on top of that, being able to make people’s lives a little better by prescribing the perfect livre du moment? As a school librarian, I try my best, but after reading about Jean’s perfectly tuned skills, I know I’ve got a long way to go.

9. This is a great story about the moments, choices, people, and books that leave indelible footprints on our hearts.

10. You really need to read this book.  Read it now, then re-read it after five years to see how much more it resonates with you.

 

5 Squinkles

 

Nina George’s Online Corners
Website | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads | Chapters

 

Thank you, Penguin Random House (Crown) and Blogging for Books, for sending me a copy of the Little Paris Bookshop in exchange for an honest review.

All opinions and suggestions expressed herein are entirely my own.

The Paris Winter (Imogen Robertson)

18 Aug

What little creativity I had when I was in elementary school led to my determination to somehow improve this sad shortcoming.  However, while I have good penmanship and can plan events pretty well, I still have not developed any measurable drawing or painting talent.  Your fellow Squinks throughout the years have gotten bellyaches from all the laughter induced by my drawing attempts on the whiteboard.  Why do I tell you this?  It’s just a roundabout way of explaining to you why I admire artists, especially portraitists, so much.

 

Paris Winter 

Imogen Robertson’s protagonist, Maude, is a struggling artist voluntarily “lost” in the City of Lights.  She’s left the small-town charms and constraints of her little English village to study at the Académie, one of the few places where women could study alone and without condescension during the time period known as la Belle Époque.  I really empathized with Maude throughout much of the story on two accounts: First, I love studying, so I know what courage it takes for her to give up a relatively comfortable life back home to chase her art-related dreams across the Channel.  The trouble is … she is skint and desperately dreading the imminent cold Paris winter.  This is the second reason that made me feel for Maude.  Not many people have all the money they could ever need, but to not even know where your next meal is coming from must be a truly frightening and helpless experience.

I love historical fiction, and, in general, history.  The beginning of this novel was a little slowly paced for me, but once Maude finds employment with the Morels, I found myself drawn into Robertson’s world of rich characters, and I couldn’t read fast enough.  The women in the Paris Winter, in particular, I found very appealing as a reader – though I don’t think I’d be quite as nice to Sylvie as Maude is.  Regardless of their moral behaviour or social appearance, I found great pleasure in seeing the story lines of each woman unfold.  It’s not surprising that I was rooting for Maude.  She is, after all, the protagonist.  But she is hardly without fault.  I found her seeming lack of gumption galling at times, and on some pages, I really wanted to scream, “Stop being so gullible!”  But she is kind and honourable, and I admired her for that.  Yvette was a blast to walk through the novel with.  She is fiery and fabulously French, typifying the je ne sais quoi expression.  I ached for and with Tanya, whose life only seems remarkable to one not living it.  But she is decent and loyal, and I cannot find fault with that.

I didn’t fall in love with this book as much as I thought I would, but there is so much strength in Robertson’s writing that I cannot NOT recommend it all the same.  Fans of historical fiction and strong female characters will particularly enjoy it, and I’m sure anyone who’s as in love with Paris as I am will find much of the narrative a delight for the senses.  Robertson’s writing is eloquent and enchanting – a piece of art in itself.  She writes as Maude would draw a portrait: a sketch here, an outline there, and before you know it, a vibrant burst of colours sits before you.  I look forward to exploring what other stories Robertson has to offer.

Did you read the Paris Winter?  What did you think?

 

4 Squinkles 

Imogen Robertson’s Online Corners
Website | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads | Chapters

 

Thank you, St. Martin’s Press, for sending me a copy of the Paris Winter in exchange for an honest review.
All opinions and suggestions expressed herein are entirely my own.

I Read YA 2015 – Day 2

19 May

This is Day 2 of #IReadYA week, and today’s book is for those of you who love dystopia.  It’s only a few weeks old, so some of you may not have seen it out and about yet, but if we get enough interest in it, I’ll definitely add it to our library shelves!

 

Rook 

From the publisher (Scholastic):

Centuries after the Earth’s poles shifted, devastating the planet, humanity has rebuilt, and civilization has begun anew. Now, the Sunken City of Paris is gripped by a terrible revolution, and no one is safe.

Seventeen-year-old Sophia Bellamy is the daughter of an impoverished old family of the Commonwealth whose hand in marriage is the bargaining chip in an impending alliance between the Bellamys and the wealthy Parisian Rene Hasard. But Sophia is also the Rook, trained in swordplay and practiced in disguise and deception, using her gifts of strategy, wit, and a band of loyal followers to secretly save the lives of the Sunken City’s doomed innocent. All is not what it seems, however — in particular, Sophia’s fiance, Rene.

When she finds herself caught up in an unexpected game of cat and mouse, Sophia is astonished by her betrothed’s secrets. Will she be able to trust him enough to call on his help? Will she be able to trust him not to break her heart?

 

If Sharon Cameron’s name rings a bell, it’s because she’s also the author of the Dark Unwinding books, which many of you have enjoyed.  I love the cover of Rook because I can’t tell if the top of the Eiffel Tower is simply hidden by fog or consumed by other more sinister sources.  De plus, comme francophile, il est naturel d’être curieuse d’en savoir plus!

 

I Read YA - Purple

 

Remember that this week (May 18-22) is a celebration of all things YA.  You can even win some prizes!  Click on the icon above to find out more, and if you’re planning to talk about YA books this week, don’t forget to use the hashtag #IReadYA.

Mon ami thé #1

27 Mar

Ami Thé - Paris Winter 

The Paris Winter by Imogen Robertson
[mystery, fashion, revenge, seduction, artistry, heroines, friendship, diamonds]

&

Rooibos de Provence by David’s Tea
[blueberries, rosehips, rose petals, lavender, black and red currants]

 

I chose this tea pairing for the reason that Provence is a province in southeastern France.  It’s known for its beautiful lavender fields and for being the first Roman province outside the Alps, which means it’s cultivated a very unique and distinct cultural and linguistic personality.  Okay, so it’s quite loin de Paris, but the taste of rooibos de provence—with its wild mixture of flowers and fruit—seems so sophisticated … so quintessentially français.  Que pensez-vous ?

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