BOOK RE­VIEWS

In­dulge your love of France a lit­tle fur­ther with our pick of the best new reads.

France - - Bienvenue -

A Paris Year Jan­ice Macleod, St Martin’s Grif­fin, £19.99

Fol­low­ing the suc­cess of her mem­oir Paris Let­ters, Cana­dian au­thor and artist Jan­ice Macleod stays in the City of Light with this il­lus­trated jour­nal. Pub­lished in the form of a di­ary (the type­face has a hand­writ­ten de­sign), the book is a de­tailed and colour­ful ode to one of the world’s most ro­man­tic cities. Hu­mor­ous anec­dotes cover ev­ery­thing from tast­ing dif­fer­ent mac­arons on the day in March when French peo­ple cel­e­brate this sweet treat, to the visa of­fice ad­min­is­tra­tors’ love of the words ‘ pas pos­si­ble’ (‘not pos­si­ble’). Per­sonal ob­ser­va­tions are un­der­pinned by facts about fa­mous names in Parisian his­tory and en­hanced by evoca­tive pho­to­graphs and the au­thor’s own beau­ti­ful il­lus­tra­tions.

Three Days and a Life Pierre Le­maitre, Ma­cle­hose Press, £14.99

The Prix Gon­court- win­ning writer Pierre Le­maitre has re­cently gained an in­ter­na­tional au­di­ence for his grisly noir thrillers fea­tur­ing de­tec­tive Camille Ver­ho­even, but his lat­est work marks a dis­tinct change of pace. Although still in­volv­ing a crime, the plot cuts back on the gore to fo­cus on the psy­cho­log­i­cal ef­fects of a vi­o­lent act. The three days of the ti­tle oc­cur on the eve of the mil­len­nium, in an out-ofthe-way French town, where 12-year-old An­toine lives with his mother. The killing of his neigh­bours’ dog and the dis­ap­pear­ance of their young son are in­ex­tri­ca­bly linked, and An­toine must wres­tle with the part he played. Eleven years later, he re­turns home, when old se­crets bub­ble to the sur­face. The au­thor, a for­mer lit­er­a­ture teacher, has pro­duced a taut char­ac­ter study and a vivid por­trayal of an iso­lated com­mu­nity.

The Vine­yard in Al­sace Julie Stock, Clued Up Pub­lish­ing, £8.99

Lon­don-based Fran leaves her cheat­ing fi­ancé and re­turns home to Al­sace, hav­ing ap­plied for a job on a wine es­tate. At the in­ter­view, she dis­cov­ers that the owner, Di­dier, just hap­pens to be a for­mer lover, who is now mar­ried but es­tranged from his wife. Work­ing to­gether rekin­dles old feel­ings, and gives them a sec­ond chance of hap­pi­ness. Self-pub­lished au­thor Julie Stock’s ‘will they, won’t they’ nar­ra­tive is told from both Fran and Di­dier’s point of view; the re­sult is a light ro­man­tic read fea­tur­ing char­ac­ters who are easy to warm to, set against har­vest time in this pic­turesque wine-mak­ing re­gion.

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