Thursday, April 9, 2020

List: French Connections

France holds allure for most readers I suppose. Paris is a world capitol. French food is the basis of fine dining. The country has a rich history and culture. Everyone who reads has probably read at least one book about France, probably several.

I don't read books in French, and have to remind myself to read translations of French literature. But I go on tears when I like to read books about, or set in, France. In anticipation of such spells, I keep a list of Frenchy books I plan to read and always have a few handy 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 she salted throughout. Olliver listed specific recommendations in sidebars labeled "Le Livre" as well as book suggestions in mini-biographies of "French Girls We Love."

My list of French-themed books follows. These are books 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! Please leave your idea in comments.

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 Colette*

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

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-Century 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

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 LesCroarte

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 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 April 9, 2020.


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. What a list! If you want more,

    A Kitchen in France: A Year of Cooking in My Farmhouse: A Cookbook by Mimi Thorisson has gorgeous photographs.

    Words in a French Life: Lessons in Love and Language from the South of France by Kristin Espinasse is by the author of the popular French Word a Day blog.

    1. Thanks Roberta! These sound great! I will add them as soon as I get a moment.

  2. 4 novels: Mrs 'Arris Goes to Paris - Paul Gallico; The Little Paris Bookshop & The Little French Bistro - Nina George; Gourmet Rhapsody - Muriel Barbery

    1. I will add these too -- Thanks! Although I didn't like Barbery's Hedgehog book, so I don't know if I will read any of her other books.

  3. 6 Non-fiction works: The Mountains of Paris - David Oates; Eiffel's Tower: and the World's Fair where Buffalo Bill Beguiled Paris, the Artists Quarreled, and Thomas Edison Became a Count - Jill Jonnes; What French Women Know: About Love, Sex, and Other Matters of the Heart and Mind - Debra Ollivier; Every Frenchman Has One - Olivia de Havilland; Paris in Love: A Memoir - Eloisa James; Paris, Paris - David D. Downie

    1. Of course -- The Mountains of Paris! I have that book too. Duh. And another Debra Ollivier book -- I have to add that. It was her book that inspired this list in the first place. These all sound great and I will add them.

  4. I read all those I listed, but only reviewed 2:
    The Mountains of Paris - David Oates
    Mrs 'Arris Goes to Paris - Paul Gallico

    1. I'll link your reviews next to the name of the books!

  5. wow, what a fantastic list. i used to dream of going to france when i was a teenager
    sherry @ fundinmental


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