Saturday, February 21, 2009

List: The French Connections

I occasionally go through armchair traveler spells when I like to read books about France -- never books in French, as I am a definite monoglot, but books with some connection to France. In anticipation of such spells, I keep a TBR list of Frenchy books and at least a couple on my TBR shelf.

What I liked best about Debra Ollivier's Entre Nous: A Woman's Guide to Finding Her Inner French Girl, besides its perfect cover, were the book recommendations salted throughout. In addition to specific recommendations in sidebars labeled "Le Livre," Ollivier included book suggestions in her mini-biographies of "French Girls We Love."

My list of French-themed books follows. These are books that I have read or want to read. Those I had read are in rouge. Those on my TBR shelf are in bleu. Those recommended in Entre Nous are marked with an asterisk.

This is a long list, but I would still welcome suggestions!

Abundance, A Novel of Marie Antoinette by Sena Jeter Naslund

Acquired Tastes by Peter Mayle

L’Affaire by Diane Johnson

An Alphabet for Gourmets by M. F. K. Fisher*

Anything Considered by Peter Mayle

Apéritif : Recipes for Simple Pleasures in the French Style by Georgeanne Brennan

Au Revoir to All That by Michael Steinberger (reviewed here)

The Autobiography of Alice B. Toklas by Gertrude Stein

Between Meals: An Appetite for Paris by A.J. Liebling*

Bistro Cooking by Patricia Wells

Birdsong by Sebastian Faulks

Bonjour Tristesse by Francoise Sagan*

Break of Day by Collette*

The Castle of Pictures and Other Stories: A Grandmother’s Tales by George Sand*

Catherine de Medici by Honoré de Balzac

Chanel: Her Style and Her Life by Janet Wallach*

Chasing Cezanne by Peter Mayle

The Cheese Plate by Max McCalman*

Cheri by Colette*

Chocolat by Joanne Harris

Citizens: A Chronicle of the French Revolution by Simon Schama

Claude & Camille: A Novel of Monet by Stephanie Cowell

Consider the Oyster by M. F. K. Fisher

Corked by Kathryn Borel (reviewed here)

The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumas

The Courtesans: The Demi-Monde in Nineteenth-Centur by Joanna Richardson

The Da Vinci Code by Dan Brown

Death in the Truffle Wood
by Pierre Magnan

The Delta of Venus by Anais Nin*

Le Divorce by Diane Johnson

Down and Out in Paris and London by George Orwell

Earthly Paradise: Colette’s Autobiography Drawn from Her Lifetime Writings, edited by Robert Phelps*

Elle Décor: The Grand Book of French Style by Francois Baudot and Jean Demachy

The Elegance of the Hedgehog by Muriel Barbery

Encore Provence by Peter Mayle

Entre Nous: A Woman's Guide to Finding Her Inner French Girl by Debra Ollivier (reviewed here)

The Feasting Season by Nancy Coons

The Flaneur by Edmund White* (reviewed here)

The Food Lover’s Guide to Paris by Patricia Wells*

The Food of France by Waverley Root (reviewed here)

The Fragrant Year by Caire Louise Hunt*

French Lessons: Adventures with Knife, Fork, and Corkscrew by Peter Mayle

French Spirits: A House, a Village, and a Love Affair in Burgundy by Jeffry Greene

French Ways and Their Meaning by Edith Wharton*

The Gastronomical Me by M. F. K. Fisher*

Gigi by Colette*

The Glass-Blowers by Daphne Du Maurier

A Good Year by Peter Mayle

At Home in France: Eating and Entertaining with the French by Christopher Petkanas*

At Home in Provence: Recipes Inspired By Her Farmhouse In France by Patricia Wells

Hotel Pastis by Peter Mayle

How to Cook a Wolf by M. F. K. Fisher*

Inspirations from France & Italy by Betty Lou Phillips

Joan of Arc by Mark Twain*

Joan of Arc: Her Story by Regine Pernoud*

The Josephine Bonaparte Collection (a three-volume fictionalized biography) by Sandra Gulland*

Josephine: The Hungry Heart by Jean-Claude Baker*

The Lais of Marie de France*

A Life in Letters: Correspondence 1929-1991 by M. F. K. Fisher

A Literary Passion by Anais Nin and Henry Miller (letters)*

Living in Provence by Dane McDowellf

The Lover by Marguerite Duras*

Madame Bovary by Gustave Flaubert*

Madame de Pompadour by Nancy Mitford*

Madame de Pompadour: Images of a Mistress by Colin Jones*

Mademoiselle Fifi and Other Short Stories by Guy de Maupassant

Marie Antoinette: The Journey by Antonia Fraser*

Le Marriage by Diane Johnson

Mastering the Art of French Cooking, Vols. I and II, by Julia Child*

Meet Me in Venice by Elizabeth Adler

Me Talk Pretty One Day by David Sedaris

The Messengers of Death by Pierre Magnan

Les Miserables by Victor Hugo

A Moveable Feast by Earnest Hemingway

Murder in Belleville by Cara Black (reviewed here);

Murder in the Marais by Cara Black

Murder in the Sentier by Cara Black

My Life in France by Julia Child (reviewed here)

Nana by Emile Zola

Napoleon & Josephine: An Improbable Marriage by Evangeline Bruce*

Paris: A Love Story by Kati Marton

Paris to the Moon by Adam Gopnik

The Paris Wife by Paula McLain

The Physiology of Taste by Jean Anthelme Brillat-Savarin (translated by M.F.K. Fisher)*

A Place in the World Called Paris, edited by Steven Barclay

Postmark Paris by Leslie Jonath

The Power of Style by Annette Tapert and Diana Edkins*

Practicalities by Marguerite Duras*

Provence A - Z by Peter Mayle

Ravelstein by Saul Bellow

Remembrance of Things Paris: Sixty Years of Writing from Gourmet, edited by Ruth Reichl

The Road from the Past: Traveling through History in France by Ina Caro

Rosa Bonheur: The Artist’s (Auto) Biography by Anna Klumpke*

Saint Joan of Arc by Vita Sackville-West*

In Search of Lost Time by Marcel Proust

The Sea Wall by Marguerite Duras*

The Second Sex by Simone de Beauvoir*

Serve it Forth by M. F. K. Fisher*

She Came to Stay [L’Invitee] by Simone de Beauvoir*

Silk Roads: The Asian Adventures of Clara and Andre Malraux by Axel Madsen

Simple Passion by Annie Ernaux*

Son of Holmes by John Lescroat

Suite Francaise by Irene Nemirovsky

The Sun Also Rises by Ernest Hemingway

A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens

A Taste of Provence by Francie Jouanin

Tender Is the Night by F. Scott Fizgerald

Therese Raquin by Émile Zola (reviewed here)

The Three Musketeers by Alexandre Dumas

Toujours Provence by Peter Mayle

Tropic of Cancer by Henry Miller

Two Towns in Provence by M. F. K. Fisher*

The Vagabond by Colette

Vie De France: Sharing Food, Friendship and a Kitchen in the Lorie Valle by James Haller (reviewed here)

The Virgin Blue by Tracy Chevalier

Walks in Hemingway's Paris: A Guide To Paris For The Literary Traveler by Noel R. Fitch

A Well Kept Home: Household Traditions and Simple Secrets from a French Grandmother by Laura Fronly and Yves Duronson*

The Wine Bible by Karen MacNiel*

A Year in Provence by Peter Mayle

List updated November 1, 2018.

Boston Bibliophile's list of French favorites

If you have a similar list or are reading the books on this list, please leave a comment with links to any progress reports or reviews and I will add them here.


  1. I just noticed you popped over to my blogs and you asked about my layout. I didn't design it, how ever much I would like to take the credit for it. You need to go to cutest blog on the block and download one of their free backgrounds they have hundreds to choose from. I have just come home after being away a few days, so I will pop back and have a read of your blog. Thanks for stopping by.


  2. Love this list-I'm totally bookmarking it! :)

    I've read Abundance, Le Divorce, Gigi, Madame Bovary, Les Miserables, A Tale of Two Cities, The Three Musketeers.

    Of those, I loved everything from Gigi-Three Musketeers. I thought Abundance was good, but could have been shorter, and I didn't like Le Divorce at all (though I really enjoyed the movie).

  3. Oh, I love the idea of someone bookmarking my list! :)

  4. And Scrap Girl -- thanks for the link to the blog background site. I could spend hours trying on new backgrounds!

  5. I know when people think of Orwell, Animal Farm and 1984 automatically pop up but I think Down and Out is his finest (that I have read so far).

    I just completed a meme on France, so I have some suggestions at the ready:)

    The Apprentice by Jacques Pepin
    That Summer in Paris by Abha Dawesar
    The Tenth Muse by Judith Jones
    Mrs. 'Arris Goes to Paris by Paul Gallico

    Thank you for this list. I am going to print it out for the next time I am feeling like a little France.

  6. Thanks Psmith! I am going to add your suggestions to the list.

  7. Wow, great work on this list. How do you draw the lines, though, since it's such a big subject? You could include all of French literature.

    I'm also going to bookmark it.

  8. This is quite the exhaustive list! I'm impressed!
    For Bastille Day I made up one of my favorites:
    Vive la France!

  9. I realize that I need to update this list. I have books to add, including Psmith's recommendations and several from Marie's related list. I'll get on this soon.

  10. Like Eva says: "I'm totally bookmarking this."

    Maybe you should consider hosting an annual reading challenge for such books?

  11. What a fantastic list! My sister and her daughters and (I still can't believe it!) I are going to France this summer. I will share this list with my fellow travelers.

  12. readerbuzz -- Bon voyage! I started this list when I was planning a trip to France and wanted to read ahead. The trip fell through, but the list just kept growing!

  13. Oh I love this list -- and I'm surprised by how many I've read! Who knew? Have you read French Milk by Lucy Knisley?

  14. Bath -- I haven't, but now I am going to go look it up.

  15. You will know France better than the French after this!

  16. I loved Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins (YA but very readable). Paris, My Sweet by Amy Thomas was good as was The Immoveable Feast by John Baxter (an Australian in France trying to get the perfect Christmas meal together). John Baxter also wrote The Most Beautiful Walk in the World. Another expat in Paris book is Lunch in Paris by Elizabeth Bard and I am really looking forward to reading Paris in Love by Eloisa James.

  17. That's one heck of a list. Thanks for putting it together for uss

  18. Thank you for the list. I am so bookmarking this page I am always having French moments. Hopefully next weeke d I will feature a French desser I had a pastry lesson on in brittany.


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