Contemporary French Fiction

Cover image for Gratitude by Delphine de Vigan

Gratitude by Delphine de Vigan (transl. George Miller): The importance of saying thank you

January seems to be Delphine de Vigan month for me. This time two years ago I reviewed the gripping Based on a True Story with which I was very impressed; last year’s Loyalties not so much. This year it’s Gratitude and I’m back to being a de Vigan fan. This brief of novellas explores ageing …

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Cover image for Dog Island by Philippe Claudel

Dog Island by Philippe Claudel (transl. Euan Cameron): A twenty-first century morality tale

From Grey Souls, a novel about three murders set in First War France, to Parfums, his scent memoir, each book I’ve read by Philippe Claudel has been different from the others. What they have in common is a strong sense of humanity and all are beautifully expressed. Set on a tiny volcanic island in a …

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Madame Bovary of the Suburbs by Sophie Divry (transl. Alison Anderson): A Flaubert homage

It’s been a very long time since I read Flaubert’s tale of a doctor’s wife, bored to tears by provincial life and seeking diversion in adultery, but not so long since I read Sophie Divry’s slightly eccentric debut, The Library of Unrequited Love which I thoroughly enjoyed. It’s always a risky business when an author …

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French Rhapsody by Antoine Laurain (transl. Jane Aitken & Emily Boyce): More than just a bit of fluff

A few years ago I was sent a copy of The President’s Hat which I quickly dismissed as a piece of fluff, far too whimsical for me. Then, after a few too many literary gloomfests, I picked it up, cynical hat firmly on my head. I loved it, gave lots of copies away and recommended …

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So You Don’t Get Lost in the Neighbourhood by Patrick Modiano (transl. Euan Cameron): Memory and the tricks we play on it

This is the first novel I’ve read by the famously reclusive Nobel Prize-winning Patrick Modiano. He’s been on my list since I read Victoria’s excellent piece on him at Tales from the Reading Room. He also made a little cameo appearance in The Red Notebook which I read a little while ago and when So …

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The People in the Photo by Hélène Gestern (transl. by Emily Boyce): A beautifully constructed page turner

The People in the Photo seemed an entirely appropriate novel to read after finishing Ben Watt’s reconstruction of his parents’ story. It begins with a description of a photograph from a local Swiss newspaper: three young people – two men and a woman – are bathed in sunlight against an Alpine backdrop, wearing white and …

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