I Love France #38: (2012) #63 review: The Summer of France

I LOVE FRANCE!

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The Summer of France

by

Paulita KINCER

227 pages

Sumemr of France

Published by Oblique Press in October2012

Ebook received from the author for an honest review

This book counts for the following Reading Challenges:

  

MY THOUGHTS ABOUT THIS BOOK

rating system

The world of blogging opens up to great new connections and opportunities. I had read reviews of The Summer of France  by other book bloggers, and then the author got in touch with me through my “I Love France” meme if I remember correctly, asking if I would like to read and review her book! How could I say no?

I had kind of forgotten about the reviews read when I started the book, so it was fun diving into it like into a blind adventure, actually quite like the heroine Fia as she arrives in Provence.

It starts on the quiet side as Fia hopes for a kind of new beginning thanks to the invitation of her uncle and aunt to go and run their B&B during the summer, so that they can take a break.

But things are never what they look, are they? And so this gentle book grabs you and pulls you into all kinds of unexpected surprises and mysteries. The suspense builds up with the alternation of chapters on what Fia is going through and what her uncle went through decades ago during WWII, and the dangerous consequences he still faces daily.

It is a rich narrative, with characters you can easily imagine in real life; with common family problems; with deeper themes related to the past, guilt or freedom for what one may have done; and how to combine the love of one’s husband, children, your other relatives, as each evolves in his or her own way.

And all of this with Provence as the background, cool descriptions of Aix and the region around it, so dear to the heart of the painter Cézanne.

I liked the mix of Fia’s dreams about France and what she actually encountered, with some really French characters, Christophe being the epitome of lots of French guys I think!

The author had also a smart way of integrating French words, with some mistakes and awkward expressions, just like a foreigner like Fia would start speaking the language, so these mistakes made actually sense and were very acceptable, even by ME, who always enter in a rage when French words are ill-used or written with typos in English books!

If you can’t make it  to France next summer, I highly suggest you read this novel. And actually, why wait for the summer? You might as well see if Santa could do something for you soon!

The one negative thing I did notice had to do with the eformatting, many sentences or words cut in the wrong place, and some apostrophes facing the wrong direction, but the book was so much fun that it didn’t distract me.

WHAT IS IT ABOUT

When Fia Jennings loses her job at the local newspaper, she thinks she’ll have the chance to bond with her teenage twins. As she realizes she may be too late to pull her family together, her husband Grayson pressures her to find another job so they can pay the increasing bills. Relief comes with a phone call from Fia’s great Uncle Martin who runs a bed and breakfast in Provence. Uncle Martin wants Fia to venture to France to run the B&B so he and his wife Lucie can travel. He doesn’t tell Fia about the secret he hid in the house when he married Lucie after fighting in World War II, and he doesn’t mention the people who are tapping his phone and following him, hoping to find the secret.
After much cajoling, Fia whisks her family to France and is stunned when Uncle Martin and Aunt Lucie leave the same day for a Greek cruise.

She’s thrown into the minutiae of a running the B&B without the benefit of speaking the language. Her dreams of family bonding time fade as her teenagers make French friends. Kasie joins a local swim team, riding off to practice on the back of a scooter each morning, hips tucked next to the 18-year-old French boy who teaches her to smoke brown cigarettes and drink red wine. West accompanies a pouty French teenager around the city, playing his guitar in the town squares to earn spending money. Fia’s husband Grayson begins touring the countryside with a pretty French woman, and Fia resists the distractions of Christophe, a handsome French man. Why the whirlwind of French welcome, Fia wonders after she comes home from a day at the beach in Nice to find someone has ransacked the B&B.
Fia parses Uncle Martin’s obscure phone calls, trying to figure out this WW II hero’s secret. Can she assuage Uncle Martin’s World War II guilt and build the family she’s always dreamed of? [Goodreads]

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Paulita Kincer

 During the summer when I was a child, I would get up early while everyone else was sleeping, pack a peanut butter sandwich and take my notebook to explore the neighborhood. I don’t know how far I actually went, but I was always hoping to find adventures to write about. Mostly, I remember plopping down under a big tree in my front yard and scribbling in my notebook there. My childhood novels mostly mimicked whatever genre I was reading at the moment – mysteries or settlers traveling west.

When it came time to make a living, I decided journalism was the only profession that offered me a chance to write and make a steady salary. I inched my way up from a weekly in Blanchester, Ohio, to a daily in Middletown, Ohio. Grad school at American University in Washington, D.C. propelled me to The Tampa Tribune where I covered important things like the city of Clearwater and bridges that didn’t fall during hurricanes [author’s website]. Go to Paulita’s website to read more about her, and about her 2 other books.

Paulita has also a book blog.

HAVE YOU READ THIS BOOK YET?
WHAT’S YOUR FAVORITE HISTORICAL NOVEL ON FRANCE?
SHARE YOUR THOUGHTS  IN A COMMENT PLEASE

***

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)
Thanks!

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

I LOVE FRANCE!

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,
and link your own post through Mister Linky,
at the bottom of this post.

*******

The Siren of Paris

by

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:

  

MY THOUGHTS ABOUT THIS BOOK

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.

WHAT IS IT ABOUT

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]

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

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 http://www.thesirenofparis.com/. 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 — http://www.amazon.com/The-Siren-Paris-David-LeRoy/dp/0983966710/ref=tmm_pap_title_0 — for more information about this virtual book tour, and to read other reviews, please visit — http://bookpromotionservices.com/2012/05/22/siren-of-paris-tour/

HAVE YOU READ THIS BOOK YET?
WHAT’S YOUR FAVORITE HISTORICAL NOVEL ON WWII?
SHARE YOUR THOUGHTS  IN A COMMENT PLEASE

***

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)
Thanks!

I love France #32: The Siren of Paris – excerpt

I LOVE FRANCE!

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,
and link your own post through Mister Linky,
at the bottom of this post.

*******

Virtual Book Tour has this historical novel on tour, and I’m thrilled to announce I was invited to join. I will post my review on November 30.

In the meantime, to peak your interest, here is a short presentation of the novel and an excerpt, both provided by Virtual Book Tour.

This is perfect for anyone loving all that is French.

Siren of Paris

342 pages

Published by David Tribble Publishing in July 2012

SYNOPSIS

David Leroy did extensive research on the German occupation of France for his debut novel The Siren of Paris. This historical novel follows the journey of one American from medical student, to artist, to political prisoner at Buchenwald Concentration Camp during World War II.

Marc, a French born American student, never suspected that he would become trapped in German occupied France when he came to Paris in the summer of 1939 to study art. While smuggling a  downed airman out of the American Hospital, through the Paris resistance underground, his life is plunged into total darkness when someone he trusts becomes a collaborator agent for the Gestapo. Marc then must fight to save his soul when he is banished to the “Fog and the Night” of Buchenwald, where he struggles with guilt over the consequences of having his trust betrayed.

You can purchase The Siren of Paris from Amazon — http://www.amazon.com/The-Siren-Paris-David-LeRoy/dp/0983966710/ref=tmm_pap_title_0   and learn more about this author and novel at http://www.thesirenofparis.com/

For more information about this virtual book tour, please visit — http://bookpromotionservices.com/2012/05/22/siren-of-paris-tour/

EXCERPT

June 15, 1940
Saint-Nazaire, France

 

After breaking camp that morning, the group drove the last few miles into the port of Saint-Nazaire. Marc studied the soldiers marching on the road as the truck passed them.

     “I thought, Allen, that most left at Dunkirk,” Marc asked.

     “These are the support troops, and other units not cut off at Dunkirk.”

     “But, over the radio, they said everyone.”

     “Of course they did,” Allen said, and then looked over the side toward Saint Nazaire in the distance. The truck crested the hill, and Allen saw thousands of men in front of him amassing in fields around the port city.

     “Where are you coming from?” the officer said as they stopped on the road just outside the city.

     “Nantes,” the driver replied.

     “Any Germans yet?” the officer sounded more like the guard of a camp.

     “None on the ground, but in the air we had quite a few close calls.”

     “Drive down over there and put the truck in drive, before you get out,” the soldier said.

     All along the road by the beach, soldiers were taking trucks and driving them into the open sea. Marc watched the odd carnival of men shouting as they drove the trucks and lorries into the surf.

    “Are we siphoning the petrol?” Allen asked.

     “No need. I am nearly empty, anyway,” the officer said.

     “All out back here,” Allen called to the front.

     “Oh hey, and there you go, my lady.” The officer then jumped from the truck as it drove down the beach into the surf. Just fifty yards away, another truck drove toward the sea. And all along the shore in front of them were trucks and vehicles either sticking out of the ocean, or buried in the sand from the previous high tide.

     Marc could not help but be captivated by the scene. As they walked toward the port, hundreds of trucks and cars laid abandoned. Many had open hoods and it was clear that they’d been sabotaged. A large bonfire soared into the sky as quartermasters burned supplies that were to be left behind. Along the town and docks, the city was overtaken with scores of fleeing soldiers and refugees.

     “Sister, I think we are best heading back to stay with the other men near the airway,” Allen said to Sister Clayton.

     “The children cannot sleep out in the open. I’m sure the local church can put us up. Even if we have to sleep on a floor, it is better to be inside,” she protested.

     “Well, you could be right, but Marc and I are going to go back and hang close to the soldiers, because when word comes it is time to get on a ship, we need to be with them,” Allen said.

     “We are not going to be far, but stay in the town and I am sure we will find you in the morning,” Sister Clayton said as they separated that day.

It was early yet, and the men pouring into the airfield looked like a ragtag of souls. Marc and Allen ended up walking back into the port and even taking in a movie to help the time pass. Air raid sirens made their calls and a plane dived in on the port, but nothing terribly serious happened that day. Throughout the night, sleeping out in the open with the other men of the BEF, Marc and Allen noticed the constant flow of new men arriving at all hours.

     It was the afternoon of the following day that ships came into port. Marc and Allen rushed with the soldiers of the airfield down to the port, looking for the other members of their convoy from Paris. Long lines formed as boats took the men out to the ships. A hospital ship arrived and offered to take men aboard if they abandoned their gear, but they refused.

     “Should I go look for them?” Marc asked Allen.

     “It really is not that important. They are going to catch a ship by the same dock we are on. It is not as if there are fifty ways to get out of here. They might have got out to a ship even before we made our way down here,” Allen said, while waiting in the line.

     “You’re right. I never thought about that,” Marc said. He watched more men pile into the lines down at the port.

     At ten that night, the port master shut down the line. “The lights will draw the planes! Shut off those lights!” he yelled as he passed the lines.

     It started to rain, and Marc and Allen crowded under the eave of a building with a group of soldiers. Several men ran over to the barrels, and used a tarp to create a small refuge from the soaking.

     “Wherever Sister Clayton and the others found to stay, I sure hope it’s dry,” Allen complained to Marc. Marc pulled at Allen’s coat and pointed toward the wine barrels.

     “Let’s get over by the wine. At least if they’re hit by a raid, we can get drunk as we die,” Marc joked. They made their way over to find a dry spot to sleep for the night.

     “Boys, time to muster up to the dock,” the shouts came at four in the morning.

     “Holy Mother of God, one bullet, Allen, and we’d be done for,” Marc said, amazed at just how stupid he’d been to not pay better attention. The barrels were not wine but paraffin.

     After joining a long line of soldiers, Marc and Allen finally boarded the fifth trawler to take the men out to one of the evacuation ships. Marc looked out to a single-stack liner as the small vessel took them out over the bay. It was about five decks high with a sweeping profile. The funnel was dark grayish black, the portholes blacked out with paint.

     “I feel bad, Allen, that we’re separated now from the others,” Marc said as he looked up the side of the ship.

     “Marc, there are going to be dozens of ships. Just look over there,” Marc pointed to a two-stack liner about a mile away. “No one is going to be left behind, but I cannot help who, how and when everyone gets aboard a ship home.”

     “Rank and unit?” the officer asked as they crossed the threshold.

     “I am in the diplomatic corps, and so is my friend here, from the American Embassy,” Marc said. The soldier looked perplexed, as if he couldn’t decide what to do next.

     “Like officers, except we’re civilians working for the embassy,” Marc explained.

     “Excellent, yes. Here are your cabin numbers and a ticket for the dining room,” the officer said.

     They made their way down to C Deck and to their assigned cabin. Allen opened the door and there were already two men inside. One of the men had a white Angora rabbit on his chest and the second read a book through his thick glasses.

     “Welcome,” said the man with the rabbit.

     “The bottom bunks are yours.” Soon after Marc and Allen got settled in, another group of men came to the door and had tickets with the same cabin.

     “Sorry, we are all out of room,” Allen said to the weary young soldier. The hallways filled fast with soldiers trying to get from deck to deck and cabin to cabin. Each of the men carried a duffle or sack of some sort with their gear. The voices of commanders pierced the thin wood walls of the staterooms.

HAS ANY OF YOU ALREADY READ THIS?
WHAT DO YOU THINK?

***

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).
Thanks