Guest-post and giveaway: The Fall of Icarus – I love France #157

And maybe you do too!
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The Fall of Icarus

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The Fall of Icarus

(Fantasy/Magic Realism/Short Stories)

Release date: March 31, 2015 at NR Bates Publishing

65 pages

ISBN: 978-0-9931905-6-8 (mobi)
ISBN: 978-0-9931905-7-5 (epub)
ISBN: 978-0-9931905-8-2 (print)

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Three interconnected short-stories set in Paris explore the issue of choice, survival and transformation. In the first story, a young man on his first business trip is waylaid by an aberrant elevator. In the pivotal tale, a young scientist re-imagines the Greek myth of Icarus and his fall to earth. In the final story, a young woman who cannot recall her own name relates the fantastical tale of a girl who can fly.

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The focal point of these three connected short stories in the book “The Fall of Icarus” is its namesake tale. The story can be read simply as a modern retelling of the Greek myth of Daedalus and his son Icarus, but it can also be read as a brief exegesis on escapism and survival. It’s a pivotal tale inspired in part by the immense Pablo Picasso mural, The Fall of Icarus, mounted on a concrete wall, just inside the security entrance to the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) building in Paris, along the tree-lined Avenue de Suffren. I first visited the building many years ago as a participant in a science meeting hosted by the organization—and I have returned to its familiarity every few years. It’s a wonderful opportunity to wander through the transient and changing exhibits of art and culture, and humanity housed within.

The curvilinear, three armed wings of the UNESCO building comprises a layercake of offices that sit firmly upon the supports of brutish concrete pillars that are enclosed within the openness of the glass enclosed loggia of the ground floor. This architectural starkness is interrupted by discretely located sculptures and the infusion of light and reflections from the gardens and residential buildings on the other side of the boulevard. It always seems to be cloudy and gray when I visit—always in winter—and I have to imagine the setting in spring and summer. I always stop to spy upon, from the warmth behind glass, the Henry Moore sculpture and its foundations sitting upon the flat grass of the roof garden. It seems lonely except for the determined smokers that venture out to brave the elements for a few minutes.

I returned again to Paris and the UNESCO building in December 2014. Once again I sat on the lengthy bench to contemplate the Picasso mural and perhaps some of its deeper meanings. This time I studied the painting with a writer’s eye. In the panels of the mural, Icarus falls out of the sky—burned through flesh to his bones—seemingly ignored by the bystanders bathing on a beach. The dread of warfare and personal sacrifice seemed clear to me in these brushstrokes. Once I returned home, within weeks, the three interconnected stories tumbled out.

The Fall of Icarus was an experiment for me—both in form and in point of view. I wrote in the first person for the first time and it was a joy to try to capture the perspectives of three different characters responding to memories and moments in time. It was also a great excuse to suffuse these tales with a deeply embedded love of France, its landscapes, its people and its culture. My parents lived in Paris as a young couple—not yet burdened with children. Afterwards, as a teacher, my father had long summer holidays and we spent our lazy time camping across France. From the age of about nine or ten, I became enamoured with the beauty of the country. France impressed me at a young age and its lure took hold. Childhood holidays in France were an idyll—certainly! Memories of straight, tree-lined roads in the dry flat countryside of summer; the lazy flow of the Gard River beneath its Roman acqueduct; the rocky beaches and Gaelic festival on top of the mountain in Brittany; the standing stones of Carnac; the Pompidou Centre in Paris, and the tall cypresses of the Mediterranean landscape—amongst the myriad, vivid recollections. Later on as an adult, reading Down and Out in London and Paris by George Orwell did not dim my affections. But I am glad that the mythologies of childhood have remained with me despite the stark realities and contrasts of modern life.

So I hope that you enjoy these brief tales that are enveloped in the cloak of Paris and France.



Fall of Icarus - Nicholas Bates NR Bates was born in London, grew up in Wales, and lived in Canada and Bermuda. He shares his life with his wife and his house with seven cats, one dog and the subtropical wildlife of lizards, wolf spiders and ant colonies that seek out a better life indoors. He is an oceanographer and scientist, and has published more than one hundred and thirty scientific papers on ocean chemistry, climate change and ocean acidification. He is a Senior Scientist at the Bermuda Institute of Ocean Sciences and Professor of Ocean Biogeochemistry at the University of Southampton, UK. His novels focus on epic fantasy and magic realism, and inspired by his deep love of the ocean and environmental sciences.


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You can enter the global giveaway here
or on any other book blogs participating in this tour.
Be sure to follow each participant on Twitter/Facebook,
they are listed in the entry form below


Visit each blogger on the tour:
tweeting about the giveaway everyday
of the Tour will give you 5 extra entries each time!
[just follow the directions on the entry-form]

Global giveaway open internationally:
5 participants will each win a digital copy of this book

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What other good collection of short stories
would you recommend?




I Love France #37: (2012) #62 review: The Siren of Paris


I plan to publish this meme every Thursday.
You can share here about any book
or anything cultural you just discovered related to France, Paris, etc.

Please spread the news on Twitter, Facebook, etc !
Feel free to grab my button,
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at the bottom of this post.


The Siren of Paris


David LeROY

335 pages

Published by David Tribble Publishing in July 2012

Paperback received via
Book promotion Services

Siren of Paris

This book counts for the following Reading Challenges:



A few weeks ago, I posted an excerpt of this very good historical novel. Time to review it and give you even more the desire to read it, as it is really worth it.

I have to say I was rather confused by the first chapter, and wondered what I had got myself into, but as I had promised to be part of this Tour, I persevered and read chapter 2, and I’m so glad I did!

In Chapter 1, Marc appears as a ghost, as a priest remembers all the dead of WWII in a prayer service at a cemetery, with weird stuff, ” the body of his soul” (really??), changing colors, etc.

BUT it all makes sense when you reach the end of the book, and in between, there’s nothing of that.

It is a very poignant story of what happened to Marc, a French born American medical student, during WWII in France, with his choices and their consequences, his relationships, with friends? traitors? enemies? in the world of French Resistance.

It is indeed a lot about relationships, on how to know whom to trust, and on forgiveness and letting go; on survival, and what you do with your life then: do you feel guilty you survived? Do you offer your life for others?

Let me highlight a few things I really like:

  • starting at chapter 13: I like the way the story accelerates, with shorter stories for everyday, presented more like a journal, in different places, for the main protagonists of the story. It’s a great way to show how some tried to cope with the situation, how some fled, by plane, by train, by boat, etc.
  • chapter 14: it captures extremely well the frantic fears on a boat preparing to live Italy in the US – remember, there are lots of dangerous things in the water in between, sharks of course, but also submarines…
  • chapter 22: the back and forth is stunning here between Marc’s boat fate, and Marc’s activity with the Resistance later.
  • chapter 31: a powerful rendering of Marc’s nightmares.
  • chapter 41: amazing mix of memories, fears, nightmares, and reality, in all its madness.
  • chapter 45: “We become our decisions over time. We choose to love, or we can choose to hate. We can choose to forgive, or we can choose to take revenge; to have hope, or we can choose to fall into despair. But, regardless, we become our choices we make over time.” p. 318

And just a few things I would object to:

  • there are lots of historical people on the book. In chapter 8, featuring a visit to Germany, I was really expecting to see The American ambassador Dodd mentioned (see In The Garden of Beasts, by Erik Larson). He wasn’t.
  • chapter 39: one little weird language thing. The guards are going through the cells, looking for a man called Renee. The French form Renée is for women. René is for men.
  • chapter 40: ‘Bon chance’ does not exist in French. Chance being a feminine word, it reads ‘bonne chance’. I have to say, it is very exceptional to find so few French mistakes in books on France written in English! Bravo!
  • chap 44: was the Paris neighborhood ever spelled Ménilomontant? I am only aware of Ménilmontant.

So to sum up, if you are interested in France, WWII, the French Resistance, you really have to read this book.

Do not cringe at the fact that it is self-published: it is great writing and good editing, with very few French mistakes even, as I mentioned above. This is the perfect example illustrating the fact that sometimes, self-published books can be of a high quality. And I expect to see more and more self-published books of that caliber.


Born in Paris and raised in the United States, 21-year-old Marc Tolbert enjoys the advantages of being born to a wealthy, well-connected family.. Reaching a turning point in his life, he decides to abandon his plans of going to medical school and study art in Paris. In 1939, he boards a ship and heads to France, blissfully unaware that Europe — along with the rest of the world — is on the brink of an especially devastating war.

When he arrives at l’École Nationale Supérieure des Beaux Arts, more ominous signs surface. There are windows covered with tape, sandbags shielding the fronts of important buildings, whispers of Parisian children leaving the city, and gas masks being distributed. Distracted by a blossoming love affair, Marc isn’t too worried about his future, and he certainly doesn’t expect a Nazi invasion of France.

Marc has a long journey ahead of him. He witnesses, first-hand, the fall of Paris and the departure of the French government. Employed by an ambassador, he visits heads of state, including the horribly obese gray-haired Mussolini and the charismatic Hitler. He witnesses the effects of the tightening vise of occupation, first-hand, as he tries to escape the country. He also participates in the French resistance, spends time in prison camps, and sees the liberation of the concentration camps. During his struggles, he is reunited with the woman he loves, Marie, who speaks passionately of working with the resistance. Is she working for freedom, or is she not to be trusted? [provided by Book Promotion Services]


A native of California, David received a BA in Philosophy and Religion at Point Loma Nazarene College in San Diego. After returning from a European arts study program, he became interested in the history behind the French Resistance during World War Two. Writing fiction has become his latest way to explore philosophical, moral and emotional issues of life. The Siren of Paris is his first novel.

You can visit him at There’s a book trailor on this page as well, and extra material.

I got David LeRoy’s picture on Elizabeth Caulfield Felt’s Blog. I highly recommend you to go and visit this post, in which she interviews the author! You will see how much research he put in his novel.

Additional Info:  You can purchase The Siren of Paris from Amazon — — for more information about this virtual book tour, and to read other reviews, please visit —



Just a reminder guys:
If you link your own post on France,
please if possible
include the title of the book or topic in your link:
name of your blog (name of the book title or topic):
example : me @ myblog (Camus)