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review 2017-07-25 18:34
A STORY OF LIFE UNDER THE TIGHTENING YOKE OF NAZI OPPRESSION (France, 1941)
A Hero in France - Alan Furst

A HERO IN FRANCE” is a story set during the early months of the German Occupation of France during the Second World War.     It is centered around a Frenchman with the nom de guerre “Mathieu” who has cast off the trappings of his previous life in Paris to join the ranks of the Resistance.   Mathieu is in his early 40s, fairly fit, resourceful, tough, determined, yet not without charm and a knack for making friends in the most interesting places.     Unlike most French people, who at this stage of the war (the novel begins in a wintry, melancholic Paris in March 1941) were largely resigned to the defeat France had suffered at the hands of the Third Reich in June 1940, Mathieu is determined to fight the Germans any way he can.   To this end, he has been part of a network that has formed a pipeline between the Occupied Zone and Vichy France, spiriting downed RAF (Royal Air Force) flyers out of France into Spain, where they would be repatriated back to the UK.  

 

Resistance activities had started off on a very small scale from late 1940.   But as the months wore on, the Germans began to show their impatience and frustration from their efforts to discourage random acts of vandalism, the occasional murder of a German officer, and sabotage.   Thus, a police inspector from Hamburg was enlisted by Berlin to go to Paris (as a temporary major in the Feldgendarmerie, the German Army Military Police) and see what he could do to break up the Resistance pipeline of which Mathieu is an instrumental part.  

 

What I like about an Alan Furst novel is his knack for evoking the atmosphere of German-occupied Europe and creating a set of characters who struggle to survive, endure, and fight the Nazi yoke.   Anyone who wants to lose him/herself in a taut, well-told story rich with cinematic overtones, look no further.   “A HERO IN FRANCE” is the novel for you.

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review 2017-07-01 01:19
THE FRENCH HOUSE by Don Wallace
The French House: An American Family, a Ruined Maison, and the Village That Restored Them All - Don Wallace
  Mindy and Don buy a house on Belle Ile, off the coast of Brittany, that needs to be repaired. Their families are not happy about it but they persevere. Life happens but the thought of the house and their chance to be there helps get them through the downs of life in America.

I enjoyed this book. I liked how we get a glimpse of life in the US for them (sometimes you have to read between the lines to know what has happened.) The thought of the house and the repair work being done gives them the strength to move past the disappointments of familial disapproval, job loss, and economic downturns. I love how they bring surfing to Belle Ile. I also like how they fit in as well as the thoughts they have when they think more like Americans than Bellilois while on the island. I loved the letter to the people who stay in their home when they are back in the US. It is great. I would love to have a dream like they did and to execute it. Loved this book
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review 2017-06-24 03:09
[REVIEW] Simple Passion by Annie Ernaux
Simple Passion - Annie Ernaux,Tanya Leslie
"From September last year, I did nothing else but wait for a man: for him to call me and come round to my place."
(1%)



This book surprised me. It wasn't what I expected and to be exposed to the raw emotion and sincerity of the narrator touched me deeply. The opening of the novel gripped me and never let go until I finished it in one sitting.

I appreciated the singular focus of it: the woman and her affair with the madness of love itself. It is a bare, tender and crude retelling of her torrid love affair with the married man, A. The way she described him made you fall for him too. Her words are filled with emotion, urgency, and a certain distance as if she isn't completely sure she didn't conjure A to respond to a longing that plagued her. She wrote it all down as a way to preserve her memories as best as she could.

"The partly erased frescoes in Santa Croce moved me because of my story, which would come to resemble them one day--fading fragments in his memory and in mine."
(52%)


Contrary to the heroines of the early French literature who fought fiercely against the whims of their passions, this unnamed narrator surrendered to the infatuation that shaped her reality and her emotional state without reserve. She lives in perpetual pause waiting for her lover. She loves in secret but even so, her writing and her love are both savage, compelling and absorbing. Truly, this book blurs the line between romantic and depressing but even so, I can't stop myself from loving it.

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review 2017-06-24 03:01
[REVIEW] The Princess of Cleves by Madame de La Fayette
The Princess of Cleves - Madame de La Fayette

God, what a heartbreaking novel. Even while I suspected where it would go, I held on to the hope that maybe it wouldn't go there. Ultimately it did and my poor heart could not take it. Move over Romeo and Juliet, the Duke of Nemours and the Princess of Clèves are the patron saints of star-crossed lovers.

 

The beginning is a chore to get through. The name dropping of the everyone in the French Court is supposed to give you a sense of place along with a cast of characters but it just ended up confusing me even more. Nonetheless, I kept reading.

 

The Princess of Clèves and the Duke of Nemours are a delight to read about it, mostly because we get to see their character evolution. Their story is nothing short of gut-wrenching; their love so true and genuine. But, by all means, this novel isn't perfect. It suffers a lot from frequent visits of the Goddess of Exposition™ which I believe take away from the main story. Sure I want some backstory on the situation but not pages upon pages upon pages of it.

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review 2017-06-24 02:42
[REVIEW] The Cid by Pierre Corneille
The Cid - Pierre Corneille,John R. Pierce,John R. Pierce,Joseph Rutter
Our most fortunate successes are mingled with sadness; always some cares, [even] in the [successful] events, mar the serenity of our satisfaction. In the midst of happiness my soul feels their pang: I float in joy, and I tremble with fear.
[Don Diego, Act III, Scene V]



It was really striking to read this play. First, I was expecting to be bored (I don't have the best track record with classics). Second, I was expecting a really difficult read. I'm happy to report that it is neither. I like that Corneille presented real and flawed characters, all of them having to deal with the act of sacrificing something dear to them because it was the right thing to do. I found myself wondering several times how on earth could the central problem be solved. In a way it was but it wasn't? Because it ended so abruptly, one can only hope that Chimène was able to forgive Rodrigo though I have no idea how she ever could forgive him. Same way I have no idea how she could stop herself from loving him.

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