Saturday, 3 April 2010

Top 3 Paris novels!

It's time for another top 3 Poodle list and this time, I'm recommending my top 3 Paris books! Whilst on holiday I had plenty of time for that traditional holiday past time - sunbathing and reading! There's nothing that illuminates and animates the city around you more than reading literature which has been set in the very streets that you walk through every day.

I discovered the Paris of the 1870's, the 1920's and the secret Paris stories of today, via the following 3 novels which I lapped up with the enthusiasm that is exclusive to Paris lovers everywhere. So although I may have been in Sri Lanka, I was still there in Paris with Henry James and Hemmingway having a wonderful winey, thinky, writey time through the books I was reading.

I can thoroughly recommend the following 3 novels but do tell me which Paris books get it right for you?

1. Ernest Hemmingway - The Moveable Feast

This short read details Hemmingways life as a young struggling writer in Paris in the 1920's and his days and nights socialising with the literary greats of the last century, Ezra Pound, James Joyce and Wyndham Lewis to name but a few. The wonderful thing about this book is the attention to detail. Writing in his wry, dry and simplistic style, Hemmingway effortlessly transports you into his every day life of the 1920's. I have to visit a fair few bars now where he used to put pen to paper, starting with Cafe des Amateurs.

2. Henry James - The American

I found a battered ancient Penguin copy of this book hidden amongst the Sri Lanka guides at one of the guest houses I was staying in and what a find it was! Henry James' protagonist Christopher Newman is a rich new money-ed American on a tour of Europe, with the side project to find the perfect wife. He comes across an aristocratic widow, Claire de Cintre who he courts and eventually becomes engaged to. I won't ruin the rest of the story for those who want to read it, but let's just say that the Poodle made short work of the 450 pages! It's also really insightful into the Paris of old, the little streets and beautiful facaded apartments with high ceilings, the beautiful Parisian ladies and the lazy days spent looking around the Louvre, doesn't sound all so different from the Paris of today. But that is the beautiful thing about this city, it is utterly timeless and hopelessly romantic!

3. Muriel Barbery - The Elegance of the Hedgehog

This award winning best seller is both philosophical and profound yet easy to read. Renee Michel - a 54 year old concierge who is a secret culture whore, and more intelligent than she herself even likes to admit, and Paloma Josse - a 12 year old genius who is plotting arson on her family home and eventual suicide on her 13th birthday, are more similar than they might have thought. Living in the same building, each with their own personal projects to enrich their cultural landscape and find meaning in life, these two ladies lives become mirror reflections of the other. Along with a platonic love story and an index of books to read and films to watch, the novel is exceptionally well written and achieves the authors aim to make philosophy applicable in the every day - a typically French preoccupation. Totally deserving of its multiple awards, the Poodle urges Paris lovers and Francophiles, concierges and all those who appreciate Japanese culture to buy this book immediately and get deep.
What are your favourite Paris stories? Tell the Poodle!

1 comment:

  1. I LOVE ZOLA's NANA - read that too!


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