Tag Archives: France

The Sky over the Louvre

Graphic novel, The Sky over Louvre by Bernar Yslaire and Jean-Claude Carriere covers the Reign of Terror when Robespierre and the Jacobins maintained power through terrorism.  Revolutionary and artist Jacques-Louis David is looking for a model for his polemic painting. Jules Stern, a young man from Khazaria, comes to Paris in search of his mother and to meet with David. David is struck by Stern’s looks and believes he’ll be perfect for his painting of Bara.

David and Stern

The book’s illustrations include sumptuous images from the Louvre’s art collection and drawings of 18th century France in the midst of the Reign of Terror, which followed the French Revolution. While I know about Robespierre, the Jacobins and their purge and violence to achieve ideological purity, I wasn’t clear on all the players. At times I had to reread The Sky over Louvre to stay clear on the meaning or to make sure I understood what was going on. Nonetheless, I enjoyed the book and would read another in this series of books set in the Louvre. 

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Posted by on April 22, 2021 in graphic novel


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Parisian Charm School

In Parisian Charm School Jamie Cat Callan provides an orientation to the uninitiated to the to élan of Paris. Her lessons on fashion, color, use of voice, flirtation and such explain why the French have such elegance and poise. In addition, she gives the names of tour guides and teachers with businesses that give unique experiences to English speakers.

The book is a fun read, that gives a romantic look at all things French. It’s far from a complete or sociological look at the City of Lights. I thoroughly enjoyed Callan’s writing, but realize that like any country France has its pros and cons and that a lot of the tours or experiences would be pricey. So remove your rose-colored glasses before you sell your house and move to Paris in search of amour.

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Posted by on May 16, 2018 in book review, non-fiction, Travel Writing


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Cadogan’s Provence

Cadogan has become my new favorite travel guide. Beth, my former boss, recommended the title and suggested I visit Provence while in France. This guide’s strength is the commentary which is often funny and provides just the right amount and kind of facts. Here’s a sample:

On Arles
Like Nîmes, Arles has enought intact antiquities to call itself the “Rome of France”; unlike Nîmes it lingered in the post-Roman limelight for another thousand years, producing enough saints for every month on the calendar. . . . Henry James wrote “As a city Arles quite misses its effect in every way: and if it is a charming place, as I think it is, I can hardly tell the reason why.” Modern Arles, sitting amidst its ruins, is still somehow charming, in spite of a general scruffiness that seems more intentional than natural.

By the way I really like Arles. It was easy to get around and there was plenty of charm and good food for three days.


Posted by on July 15, 2011 in guide, non-fiction


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Suite Française

With a back story as compelling as this one, the novel could easily be overshadowed but Nemirovsky’s writing and vision holds its own.

As World War II unfolded around her, Irene Nemirovsky, a successful pre-war author, conceived a massive oeuvre with which she planned to illuminate the times in which she was writing. Alas, her grand vision was never to come to fruition, a fact she became increasingly aware of, due to the fragility of her own circumstances. A White Russian Jew living in France without French citizenship, Nemirovsky was arrested and deported to Auschwitz, where she died in 1942. In 1990, one of her surviving daughters discovered the novel which she had saved without reading as a mememto of her mother.

While most books which I’ve read about World War II dwell on the Holocaust, this book does not. Nemirovsky writes of the ordinary French and how their lives were disrupted by, first, the German invasion and, then, the German occupation. She portrays the venal and the heroic with equal objectivity. In the first half of her book, which reads more like a collection of short stories, we become acquainted with a number of Parisians as they flee in the face of the oncoming Germans. In the second half of her book, we are presented with more of a narrative about a small French town in the midst of an occupying army.

The book ends with Nemirovsky’s transcribed and translated handwritten notes regarding her plans for the work and finally, with correspondence, both from the author and from third parties, regarding her situation, arrest and ultimate death.

A fascinating, poignant read.

By Bridget

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Posted by on April 10, 2011 in historical fiction