Top Ten Underrated Books

Top Ten  Books I LOVED
with Fewer than 2,000 Ratings on Goodreads

TTT for February 19, 2019
#TopTenTuesday

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For this edition of #TopTenTuesday, I have to specify that I have read and LOVED a lot of Medieval spirituality books. It’s a special niche, so much so, that for many of them, these books have only 1 rating, mine!
I have also read and LOVED lots of books written in French, and as French readers tend to prefer to use Babelio (Goodreads French equivalent), I’m the only reader who rated these books as well. I’m not even talking about Medieval spirituality books, written in French!

But as the two above categories would probably not be of interest for most of you, I decided to skip them. This was actually a good exercise: I actually was not aware I had read so many awesome spiritual books that apparently no one else here has read!

Click on the covers to know more about these books

Gallic Noir 1So I’ll stick here to less obscure books.
So my first fiction title that I liked a lot (4 stars) and that has only 4 ratings is Gallic Noir Volume 1
I’m totally shocked!
Pascal Garnier is an awesome French author of noir literature. I have reviewed many of his other books as well. His English translators are fantastic.
Most would call his books novellas, and this one is actually a collection of them.
If you are like noir, you HAVE to try Pascal Garnier!
Here was my verdict for this book:
French noir at its best!
Garnier’s writing is excellent and he has this unique gift at twisting things quickly around. I like his strong and bleak images, and will definitely be most happy to keep discovering his work (he wrote over 60 books) with the upcoming Gallic volumes.

A Parisienne in Chicago

 

Let’s stay with the French, shall we, and accompany Marie Grandin to Chicago in 1893 in A Parisienne in Chicago: Impressions of the World’s Columbian Exposition.
I rated it 5 stars, and it has only 12 ratings.

This book was most fascinating.
Marie came to spend 10 months in Chicago, as her husband was working on a big fountain for the Exposition.
She goes everywhere, looks at everything, and has funny and to the point comments comparing between American and French life style, and on people of the time.

Everyone Has Their Reasons

 

Well, looks like the French are persistent here.
Everyone Has Their Reasons has only 14 ratings, and I gave it 5 stars.

VERDICT: Powerful and unique rendition on life in Europe in the years 1935-1945 through vivid letters from Herschel Grynszpan to his lawyer, as he awaits his trial for killing a Nazi diplomat in Paris.

A long book (528 pages) that will reward readers interested in this page of European history as well as inventive writing.

The Fictional 100

And here is another shock: how come only 16 people have rated The Fictional 100: Ranking the Most Influential Characters in World Literature and Legend.
Well worth my 5 stars, believe me!

VERDICT: Smart presentation and ranking of literary characters, across countries and times. If you believe in diversity in literature and consider yourself a lover of books, you absolutely need to have this reference volume on your shelf.

I really like how the author (fellow author and book blogger) details the origin of a character and his/her variations throughout literature history and other arts, and across the continents – what she writes for Cinderella is a perfect example.

The Song Peddler

I’m sure you were missing Paris, right? so the next one is The Song Peddler of the Pont Neuf, an excellent historical mystery set in Paris on the eve of the French Revolution.
4 stars, 19 ratings

VERDICT: Excellent integration of serious historical research into a clever and suspenseful plot.
I have been thoroughly enjoying Laura Lebow’s historical mysteries around the world of operas, see for instance Sent to the Devil. Then she got the great idea to start a new series set in France!
Definitely a novel to recommend to anyone wanting to study the conditions and situations leading to the French Revolution, with serious historical research, details, plus the fun of a suspenseful plot. I’m looking forward to more adventures with Paul.

Taking Root in Provence

Now you may wonder how I’m choosing again a book about France. The truth is, I just clicked on the arrow near the Ratings on the Goodreads shelf of books I have read, and am skipping all spiritual books. And see what’s left, a lot of France related books!
Taking Root in Provence has only 20 ratings, and I gave it 5 stars.

After a busy life in Washington, Anne-Marie and Oscar decided to retire and settle in Provence. This book is a treasure trove, full of their daily impressions of Aix-en-Provence and of the many surrounding quaint little cities and villages.
What I liked is how she integrated very good historical and cultural information in an attractive narrative, never boring.

Lady Agnes Mystery 1

 

Surprise surprise: The Lady Agnes Mystery WAS written by a French author. Even though her name may confuse you, Andrea Japp is French. I thoroughly enjoyed the 4 books of this series (published in 2 volumes in the US).
4 stars for the first one (47 ratings) and 5 stars for the second (21 ratings).

VERDICT: Suspenseful saga set in France in the 14th century, at the time of the dreadful Inquisition. Rich in historical details and ripe with secrets powerful enough to kill or to die for, it focuses on a quest and a unique woman.

death-at-the-paris-exposition

 

We followed Marie from France to the Chicago Columbian Exposition above, so now let’s go with Emily from Chicago to Paris, to another Exposition: Death at the Paris Exposition.
5 stars, 28 ratings.
This is a historical mystery.

VERDICT: Perfect example of how to integrate smartly the fruit of your research into a historical novel.
Luscious descriptions and suspenseful mystery. Very enjoyable.

Syncopation

Syncopation: A Memoir of Adele Hugo, has only 36 ratings, I gave it 5 stars.
Victor Hugo was very much shocked by the loss of his daughter Léopoldine, who died by drowning shortly after her wedding. This book is from her sister Adèle’s point of view.

In this semi memoir semi historical novel, Adèle writes her own journal. At the end of many chapters, she communicates in imagination with Léopoldine, who reacts to her sister’s writing. In reality, Adèle did keep a diary for several years. Here we see her rewriting her life and events as she wishes to present them, not necessarily as they really happened.
I found the style of the book very charming and innovative, in the way it mixes history and fiction, sanity and madness, friendship and passion, and in the way Adèle’s voice was presented.
I enjoyed very much the depth and simplicity of the writing, where each word seems to have been very carefully selected.

The Kabbalist

I’m glad I had to do this exercise, as I had completely forgotten about The Kabbalist. I gave it 5 stars, it has only 43 ratings.
Ignore the awful cover, it’s very sad, it gives a very wrong impression of the book and its content.
This historical novel is about the Templars and the Kabbalah.
And oh, it HAS a connection to France, of course!

In 2014, I wrote:
The Kabbalist is one of the best historical mysteries I have ever read. It is fabulously built and organized. I really enjoyed being led in the company of each rich character from “false truths” to “real truths”. Looking forward to similar stories by the author.

The prompt was fewer than 2,000 ratings? I have tons of really well loved books with less than 50 ratings.
This sample gives a good idea of my usual books: related to France, mysteries, historical novels, nonfiction.

Have you read any of these? Which one is your favorite?
What are your favorite underrated books?

 

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22 thoughts on “Top Ten Underrated Books

  1. I love it that you are the only one who has read most of the medieval spirituality books on Goodreads. You realize, of course, that you are America’s expert on that. I think that’s delightful.

    And A Parisienne in Chicago? That combines my deep love for two beautiful cities. Unfortunately it now sells for $46 on Amazon—whew!

    Like

    • OMG, I’m definitely not the American expert, I actually know many American scholars in that field. You should be able to get A Parisienne in Chicago through your library or interlibrary loan. I can see it’s at Austin University

      Like

  2. Astonished to discover the Garnier book hasn’t had more attention. Were there other editions maybe that were read by more people or does Goodreads give a total number of ratings for all editions?

    Like

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