Reviews of French novels – I love France #126

And maybe you do too!
If you have recently read a good book in connection with France,
please mention it in the comment section
and add a link to your review if you have one.
I will regularly post a recap of all the books mentioned.



These books count for the following Reading Challenges:



I read a few new to me French authors this year. They are very popular in France, but I had never had the chance to discover them before.

Here are 2 books by the so famous Amélie Nothomb:

Hygiène de l'assassin Amélie Nothomb is one of Europe’s most successful and controversial authors. She wrote Hygiene and the Assassin, her first published novel, when she was only twenty-five, and it became an instant bestseller across Europe. Winner of the Fournier and René-Fallet prizes.

Prétextat Tach, Nobel Prize winner and prolific author is dying. A few journalists go to interview him, and they are rudely and meanly rebuked.
Then comes  a female journalist, 
Nina, possibly the only person who read and knows really well his twenty-some books.
She does not let him break her and actually is just as good as he is with her own tough remarks, as she has dug into his unknown and mysterious life. She eventually manages to have him confess something she suspected about his younger days, a truth that will affect her and change her forever.

There are interesting passages on secrecy in the life of authors, but Tach is an ugly character. I enjoyed the construction of the book, but the ambiance is really ugly and gross, just as gross as the dying Tach. Yuck!




Tokyo Fiancée


Tokyo Fiancée

“Amélie is a young language teacher living in Tokyo.
When she succumbs to the attentions of a student
–the shy, wealthy, and oh-so-Japanese Rinri–
the lovers find themselves swept along by an affair that is as unusual as it is tender.”

This was a lovely short book,
maybe like a love letter to Japan,
the country where the author actually grew up.




Monsieur Ibrahim

You may be familiar with Monsieur Ibrahim and the Flowers of the Qur’an, the award-winning film starring Omar Sharif. It is based on this short book. This is actually part of a trilogy focused on religion. Obviously this one is about Islam.

I really enjoy very much this author’s style: it is extremely simple but manages to go deep in evoking relationships, with lots of lively and genuine sounding dialogs. By the way, if you want to read something easy in French, go for it!

It’s a very moving coming of age short novel/play.
Momo, 11, lives in a Jewish neighborhood of Paris. His family situation is tough with his mother gone and his dad not assuming his role. After a special event, Momo becomes friend with Ibrahim, and old Sufi grocer.
Ibrahim introduces Momo to the richness of life.
It’s about connection and friendship, about beauty, humor, simple wisdom in life, and how to be happy really.
The passage on the whirling dervishes is brilliant.
I liked this passage, that all French tourists should read:

Ah non, pas l’autoroute, Momo, pas l’autoroute. Les autoroutes, ça dit: passez, y a rien à voir. C’est pour les imbéciles qui veulent aller le plus vite d’un point à un autre. Nous, on fait pas de la géométrie, on voyage. Trouve-moi de jolis petits chemins qui montrent bien tout ce qu’il y a à voir.


Then I read another book of the trilogy, the one about Christianity:

 Oscar et la dame rose

Oscar and the Lady in Pink is also extremely moving, dealing with the topic of sick children.
Oscar, about 10, is dying of cancer.
Mami-Rose, One of the ‘ladies in pink’ who come to visit the patients, makes friends with him.
She suggests that he should write to God and pretend that each of the following 12 days is a decade of his imaginary life.
Oscar writes ten letters to God that are sensitive, funny, heartbreaking and, ultimately, life-affirming.

There’s also the theme of how parents deal with the sickness of their children.
This is so well done.
I enjoyed chapter 11 when Oscar experiences a kind of epiphany
and prays for others he knows to make the same experience.

So this is also a coming of age novella, as a very young boy becomes so wise in the context of his sickness.






6 thoughts on “Reviews of French novels – I love France #126

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