French fiction in translation

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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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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 First Thing You See by Grégoire Delacourt (transl. Anthea Bell): A sweet meditation on the curse of beauty

A couple of years ago I picked up Grégoire Delacourt’s The List of My Desires to read on a train on my way to meet a friend. It looked a little fluffy but the synopsis was attractive and I thought it would suit if there were no seats in the quiet carriage. I polished it …

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Birth of a Bridge by Maylis de Kerangal (transl. Jessica Moore): All human life is here

I’d not heard of Maylis de Kerangal before I came across Birth of a Bridge which says more about my ignorance than her obscurity as the novel comes garlanded with praise from all and sundry. It also won the 2010 Prix Médicis, adding to several other literary prizes awarded to her. All this is should …

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The Red Notebook by Antoine Laurain (transl. Jane Aitkin and Emily Boyce): A sweet indulgence

Back in 2013 I was sent a copy of The President’s Hat. I wasn’t at all sure about it – a bit too much of the whimsy for me it seemed – but it turned out to be one of my favourite books of that year. Not a literary masterpiece but clever, witty and uplifting. …

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