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text 2020-06-05 20:09
Reading progress update: I've read 380 out of 380 pages.
L'énigme des Blancs-Manteaux - Jean-François Parot

(French text and images below.)

 

Well, that's a wrap.  Somewhat against my own expectations, I finished this book in just under a week.  As I suspected, we don't actually learn that much more in the final 150 pages, even though the action continued to move at a sprightly pace.  There were a few more things I could have done without

(including but not limited to the "dark and stormy night" goings-on which the author, it turns out, had only been saving for the book's final chase(s), as well as a veritable "coup de théâtre" during the final conclave which might easily have backfired in real life),

(spoiler show)

and the author's choice to present the solution in a Golden Age mystery-style "final conclave" didn't really work for me, not least because -- but for the revelations that actually only follow the "final conclave" -- much of what Nicolas says there had at the very least been on the cards since the book's halfway mark or (in part) longer.  But to the last, the book's biggest draw for me was the historical detail -- Parot clearly knows what he's writing about, and he is very good at building it into the story's setting and atmosphere.  (Unlike in other, similar cases, I didn't even mind the footnotes; by and large, they actually worked better for me than a lengthy "historical note" at the end of the book would have done.)  As I said to Tannat in a comment on yesterday's status update, the book feels like Parot is taking the reader on a tour of 18th century Paris (and 18th century Paris society), while at the same time telling a detective story.  Overall, that made for a very enjoyable experience.

 

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

 

Eh bien, voilà tout fini!  Plus ou moins contre mes propres expectations, j'ai fini ce livre dans un peu moins d'une semaine.  Comme j'avais supposé, on n'apprend plus grand'chose dans les 150 pages finales, bien que l'action continue d'avancer à un pas assez gaillard.  Il y avait encore quelques élements de plus auquels j'aurais bien voulu renoncer

(tels que les évenements "nuit sinistre et orageuse" qu'il émerge que l'auteur avait seulement conservé aux chasses finales, autant qu'un véritable coup de théâtre durant le "conclave final" qui aurait bien pu finir manière retour du bâton dans la vie réelle),

(spoiler show)

et le choix de l'auteur de présenter la grande solution façon "conclave final" d'un roman policier de l'Âge Dorée ne m'a pas exactement enchanté, non des moindres parce que -- à part des révélations qui, en fait, suivent au "conclave final" -- beaucoup des faits y  mentionnés par Nicolas avaient été au moins possibles depuis la moitié du livre (ou même plus longtemps).  Mais jusqu'au moment dernier l'attraction la plus grande du livre, pour moi, était le détail historique -- c'est clair que Parot sait de quoi il parle, et il réussit bien à l'intégrer dans la mise en scène et l'atmosphère du récit.  (Au contraire d'autres cas pareils, même les notes individuelles de l'auteur ne m'ont pas dérangé; tout-en-un, je les ai préféré à une longue note historique à la fin du livre.)  Comme j'ai dit à Tannat dans un commentaire à mon status update de hier, ce livre me parait comme si Parot avait invité le lecteur à un tour du Paris du 18e siècle (et de la société parisienne du 18e siècle), tout en nous racontant une histoire policière.  En somme, cela a fait une expérience bien plaisante.

 

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

 Final images:

 

Etienne Jeaurat: Le carnaval des rues de Paris (oil on cloth, 1757, Paris, Musée Carnavalet)

 

The Carnaval de Paris lasted, in the 17th and 18th centuries, from the day after Epiphany (Twelfth Night) until Ash Wednesday / the beginning of Lent.

 

Ebony and ivory Janseist crucifix: Christ is shown hanging with His hands above His head, so as to make His body form an arrow (rather than the "T" form of the traditional crucifix with His arms outstretched at a right angle to His body).  The arrow pointing down to the congregation in the Janseist cruxifix signified that Christ died only for the elect; whereas the traditional crucifix featuring outstretched arms indicates that Christ died for the whole world.

 

 

 

 

François Boucher: The Crocodile Hunt and The Leopard Hunt (both 1736), Charles Parrosel: The Hunt of the Wild Boar (1738), and Charles André van Loo: The Bear Hunt (1739), some of Louis XV's "chasses exotiques", then at Versailles -- all now at the Musée de Picardie in Amiens. (Right-click on an image to see a larger version.)

 

An 18th century map of the faubourg Saint-Marcel (or Saint-Marceau) -- in the 17th and 18th centuries, an extremely poor and downtrodden working class area -- and its location on a map of the modern city (it was outside the city walls in the 18th century).  Rousseau wrote in his Confessions:

"En entrant [à Paris] par le faubourg Saint-Marceau je ne vis que de petites rues sales et puantes, de vilaines maisons noires, l’air de malpropreté, de la pauvreté, des mendiants, des charretiers, des ravaudeuses, des crieuses de tisane et de vieux chapeaux. Tout cela me frappa d’abord à un tel point que tout ce que j’ai vu depuis à Paris de magnificence réelle n’a pu détruire cette première impression, et qu’il m’en est resté toujours un secret dégoût pour l’habitation de cette capitale."

 

Guérande (Nicolas's home town) and its location on a satelite map.

 

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

 

Previous status updates:

41 pages

94 pages

112 pages

221 pages

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text 2020-06-05 13:34
Available Now!

Today is the day! Luminous is available now on Kindle or in paperback.

mybook.to/luminous

Source: mybook.to/luminous
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text 2020-06-05 05:00
Valley of Shadows Author Interview and GIVEAWAY!
 

About the Book

 


Book:  Valley of Shadows

Author: Candace West

Genre:  Christian Historical Fiction

Release Date: March 17, 2020

Forgiving is far from forgetting.

Lorena Steen gave up on love years ago. After arriving at Valley Creek to visit her daughters, she stumbles first thing into Earl, the husband who abandoned her.

As for Earl, facing Lorena while fighting his own demons tempts him to flee town. How can he rebuild a relationship with his daughters and cynical neighbors when guilt shadows every step?

While the storm brews between them, another storm descends on Valley Creek. Will a ghost town stand in its wake?

But then the townsfolk devise a plan. All they need is a former concert pianist and violinist. A wife and husband estranged.

Can Lorena and Earl set aside their feelings to rescue a community? Even though it sweeps them back through valleys best forgotten? Especially when a forbidden love claims his right to win Lorena’s heart?



Click HERE to get your copy!
 

About the Author

 


Candace West was born in the Mississippi delta to a young minister and his wife. She grew up in small-town Arkansas and is a graduate of the University of Arkansas at Monticello. When she was twelve years old, she wrote her first story, “Following Prairie River.” In 2018, she published her debut novel Lane Steen. By weaving hope-filled, page-turning stories, Candace shares the Gospel and encourages her readers. She currently lives in her beloved Arkansas with her husband and their son along with two dogs and three cats.
 

 

 

 

 

 

More from Candace

 

Why I Wrote Valley of Shadows

Can a villain become a hero? When I ended my debut novel Lane Steen, I knew someday I had to discover if a kidnapper and alcoholic was worth saving. Could that same person save a town after tragedy strikes while wrestling with his own demons?

Earl Steen had a dark valley to cross.

With a destroyed reputation, Earl must prove in Valley of Shadows that God has not wasted His efforts on him. Also, Lorena, his estranged wife, has her own score to settle. How can she when the villain no longer exists?

Nothing tugs at my heart more than lost, unrequited love. My second book focuses on their lost relationship. Earl and Lorena had haunted one another long enough. Could God mend what Earl had shattered?

Sitting down to write, I returned to Valley Creek and uncovered places within Earl’s heart that I never knew existed. Lorena’s struggles became mine as she grappled with understanding and forgiving. The dark places of their past somehow had to merge with the light of a hopeful future.

Getting Earl and Lorena to rediscover their love was a journey fraught with tension, grief, frustration, and hope. Was it worth every rewrite, every long hour staring at my computer screen waiting for my characters’ next move?

You bet!
 
 

Author Interview

 

 

Is there a particular literary period that you’re drawn to (Regency, Victorian, Romantic, Modernism, etc.)? Why?

Of all genres, I’m drawn to historical the most. Regency and Victorian. While I enjoy reading contemporary romances, I love traveling back in time to places around the world, particularly early American and British places. The events of those times, the customs, the clothes, and the way of life are just a few reasons I’m drawn to them. When it comes to writing, though, I set my stories near the turn of the 20th century. Though it’s still historical, a touch of the modern world emerges.

 

 

Describe your book in five words.

 

My book in five words: A villain becomes a hero.

 

 

Which one of your characters speaks most to your heart? Why?

Earl Steen speaks most to my heart, and I certainly didn’t plan it to happen. In book one of my Valley Creek Redemption series, I hated him as much as everyone else in the book. By the end, however, I had discovered something deeper within him. Valley of Shadows is Earl’s second chance.

 

 

Do you prefer traditional books, ebooks, or audiobooks?

 

I prefer traditional books. Holding a book between my hands is the best therapy at the end of a long, exhausting day. My house, however, isn’t big enough to hold all the books I would love to have. For the sake of space, I also have a Kindle. (Yes, I have more books on there that I can read in a year!) Now, I have keeper shelves. Books that have won my heart and soul belong there. The rest are in my Kindle.

 

 

If you could live inside a book, which one would it be?

That’s almost impossible to answer! There are so many books I would love to live in. Can I choose one for every day of the week? Just kidding. I’ll pick a series instead. If it were possible, I’d live in the Anne of Green Gables books. Prince Edward Island is on my “someday” list.

 

Blog Stops

 

Locks, Hooks and Books, June 3

Debbie’s Dusty Deliberations, June 4

For the Love of Literature, June 5 (Author Interview)

Inklings and notions, June 6

Texas Book-aholic, June 7

Older & Smarter?, June 8

Betti Mace, June 9

Artistic Nobody, June 10 (Author Interview)

deb’s Book Review, June 10

Truth and Grace Homeschool Academy, June 11

Through the Fire Blogs, June 12

For Him and My Family, June 13

Blossoms and Blessings, June 14 (Author Interview)

Pause for Tales, June 15

By The Book, June 16 (Author Interview)

 
 

Giveaway

 

 
To celebrate her tour, Candace is giving away the grand prize package of a $50 Amazon gift card, one signed paperback copy of Lane Steen and Valley of Shadows!!
 
Be sure to comment on the blog stops for nine extra entries into the giveaway! Click the link below to enter.
 

 

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text 2020-06-05 03:29
Reading progress update: I've read 19%.
L'Enigme des Blancs-Manteaux - Jean-François Parot

Finished chapter 3.

 

Not making much progress, but at least I found some time to read this book for a bit tonight. Of course, that puts me behind on my other books, but oh well. Il faut que j'avance au moins un peu. I have to advance at least a little.

 

All I can say is that it must have been some carnival the year before. And is Isabelle's Nicolas's sister or something? Did her father have a fling with his mother and then have her abandon him in the cemetery?

 

Oh and I have a soupçon about who was in that barrel.

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text SPOILER ALERT! 2020-06-04 19:48
Reading progress update: I've read 221 out of 380 pages.
L'énigme des Blancs-Manteaux - Jean-François Parot

(French text, maps and images below. / Texte français, cartes et images en bas.)

 

Well, consider me well and truly hooked at this point.  There are a few mighty convenient and improbable conincidences --

e.g., the "inner voice" that guides Nicolas to more or less effortlessly draw pretty much the entire plot out of a wily old madam, and ink-stained footprints showing the path that a ransacking intruder has taken through Descart's home

(spoiler show)

-- surely you could have done better than that M. Parot?  (I also could seriously have done without Nicolas's -- and the author's -- patronizing attitude towards Awa and her "decapitated rooster" fortune telling stunt.  And towards Catherine on that same occasion, for that matter.)  But at least we didn't also get the "[shocking things happening to the hero during a] dark and stormy night" cliché on the one occasion when the temptation to use it must have been huge, and I confess that both the action and the wealth of historical detail have rather drawn me in.  And it certainly helps to now also know why de Sartine felt he had to select an investigator from outside the ranks of the established police force (even if neither that nor Nicolas's quick understanding and intelligence completely accounts for quite such a young, inexperience choice).  By and large, though, I am really enjoying this book, and I am looking forward every day to the time I've set aside at night (and / or in the morning) for this buddy read.

 

That being said, even before reaching the book's halfway point -- what with the things that Nicolas had learned at the Dauphin couronné and from Antoinette, and the subsequent discoveries at Vaugirard -- it seemed to me that the mystery was pretty much solved,

and the only things remaining to be discovered at that point were the hiding place of the stolen papers, the exact role of Semacgus (if any), and the location of the final body to be found (which I'm sure we know at this point, too, even if Nicolas hasn't clued into it yet),

(spoiler show)

and I think so even more now that I'm slightly past the halfway point.  Can it really take another 150+ pages to unveil the rest of what we've yet to learn?  The Golden Age mystery writers published entire novels of not much more than that length ...

 

Final side note for now: I've learned a new verb -- "bastiller" (or "embastiller").  I was aware of the Bastille, of course, whose name, however, my mom's battered Petit Larousse informs me, derives from the erstwhile "bastir" ("bâtir" in modern French) -- so the name actually just denotes that it's a building -- whereas from the context it's clear that "(em)bastiller" means "to imprison".  So the Bastille, much more than even Le Châtelet and the Conciergerie, was synonymous with "prison", to the point that it, in turn, gave rise to the use of a corresponding verb.  Which then again, of course, only goes to underline why it played such a symbolic role in the French Revolution ...

 

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

 

Eh bien, on peut me considérér entièrement captivée de l'action du livre à ce moment.  Il y eu quelques coïncidences assez bien convenientes et improbables,

telles que la "voix intérieure" qui guidait Nicolas à tirer, sans effort, plus ou moins le complot entier d'une rusée propriétaire de maison infâme, et les empreintes encrées signalant le chemin  pris par un pilleur pénétré à la maison de Descart

(spoiler show)

-- sûrement, vous auriez sait faire mieux que ça, M. Parot?  (J'aurais bien voulu renoncer aussi à l'attitude paternalisante de Nicolas -- et de l'auteur -- vis-à-vis Awa et son coup de prophésie au coq décapité.  Et, en ailleurs, vis-à-vis Catherine à la même occasion.)  Mais du moins on nous épargne le cliché "[des chocs souffert par le héros durant une] nuit sinistre et orageuse" au moment où la tentation de l'user doit avoir été la pire, et il me faut admettre que l'action autant que la richesse du détail historique m'ont bien sucée dans le livre.  Et bien sûr ce procès a été facilité aussi par le fait que maintenant nous savons pourquoi de Sartine le pensait indispensable de choisir un investigateur du dehors la police établie (même si ni ceci ni la compréhension rapide et l'intelligence de Nicolas expliquent entierement le choix d'un homme tellement jeune et inexpériencé).  Tout-en-un, pourtant, le livre me fait grand plaisir, et je me réjouie chaque jour au temps que j'ai réservé pour ce buddy read à la nuit (et / ou au matin).

 

Tout ceci étant dit, même avant d'avoir achevé la moitié du livre -- en vue de ce que Nicolas avait appris au Dauphin couronné et d'Antoinette, et ses découvertes suivantes à Vaugirard -- il me paraissait que le mystère était plus ou moins résolu,

et les seules choses à découvrir ètaient la cachette des papiers volés, le rôle exacte de Semacgus (s'il en avait un), et l'endroit du corps final à trouver (lequel je suis sûre nous connaissans déjà aussi à ce moment, bien que Nicolas ne l'ait pas encore entendu),

(spoiler show)

et je pense le même d'autant plus maintenant que j'aie lu un peu plus qu'à demi du livre.  Est-ce que ça prendra vraiment encore une 150e de pages de nous réveiller ce qui nous reste à découvrir?  Les auteurs des romans policiers de l'Âge Dorée ont publié des romans entiers de pas trop plus que ce calibre ...

 

Commentaire marginal final pour le moment: J'ai appris un verbe nouveau -- "bastiller" (ou "embastiller").  Je connaissais La Bastille, naturellement, le nom de laquelle pourtant, le Petit Larousse battu de ma mère m'enseigne, descend de l'ancien "bastir" ("bâtir" en français moderne) -- donc son nom seulement dénote, en effet, qu'il s'agit d'un bâtiment -- pendant que du contexte c'est clair que "(em)bastiller" signifie "emprisonner".  Donc c'étail La Bastille, beaucoup plus que même Le Châtelet et la Conciergerie, qui était synonyme de "prison", au point d'engendre, en revanche, un verbe correspondant.  Tout ce qui, bien sûr, de son tour seulement va à souligner son rôle symbolique dans la Révolution française ...

 

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

 

 

One of Parot's historical notes contains a "by the way" reminder that Nicolas's boss, Antoine de Sartine, was a historical person; he really was the Paris Chief of Police (and, for all practical purposes, the city's true administrator) during the time in which this book is set.  He was reputed as a scrupulously fair and forward-thinking magistrate and a proponent of law and order, who however also didn't shy away from locking people up or taking other measures on the basis of "lettres de cachet" (unappealable extraordinary orders signed by the King or by himself), and who used a wide network of spies, both abroad and at home.  His reputation preceded him to such an extent that his help and advice was frequently also sought by foreign governments and police forces.  (According to Wikipedia, "once, a minister of Maria Theresa wrote to Sartine asking him to arrest a famous Austrian thief who was thought to be hiding in Paris. Sartine replied to the minister that the thief was actually in Vienna, and gave the minister the street address where the thief was hiding, as well as a description of the thief's disguise.")

 

At about the halfway point of our novel, Nicolas overhears a conversation between de Sartine and another official (whose identity remains undisclosed), which -- while chiefly about the disastrous French losses during the Seven Years' War and the role of Mme. de Pompadour -- also foreshadows de Sartine's later role as Secretary of State for the Navy and architect of the new French naval forces which, in decades to come, would prove such a formidable adversary to those of Great Britain.

 

The set of books above right shows de Sartine's coat of arms, with the representation of three sardines in the center (phonetically representing his name).

 

Pharaon (Faro) -- the popular card game mentioned repeatedly in the novel, especially in connection with the goings-on at the Dauphin couronné.  (Another repeatedly-mentioned game is Lansquenet.)

 

Nicolas would probably not recognize the Faubourg Saint-Honoré of today (the location of the Dauphin couronné in the novel) -- it, and especially the rue du Faubourg Honoré, is one of the most exclusive addresses of Paris nowadays, where haute couture, art galleries, embassies, and even the entrance of the Palais de l'Élysee are all sitting right next to each other. -- (For reference, on the map the "P" of "Paris" again represents the Place de l'Hôtel de Ville / formerly Place de Grève; Le Châtelet would have been just beyond the second bridge to the left of there.)

 

Église Saint-Eustache -- now and then, one of the unmissable sights in the Quartier des Halles -- and its location with reference to the novel's other key locations in the centre of Paris.

 

For those who are already at this point in the novel: the rue Montmartre is just north of the église Saint-Eustache and the Quartier des Halles.

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