The adventures of an American lover of all things French...
Sunday, July 15, 2018
Summer Reading 2018
This is what I am currently reading. A former student who is now one of my beloved colleagues gave it to me this spring. I think she found it at our annual book fair, one of my favorite school-related events. It is a great read- kind of like peeking in the window and watching Renoir, Monet, Degas, Cézanne, Pissarro, Sisley, Manet (although he did not want to identify as an Impressionist), Morisot and Cassatt in their studios. They were so unappreciated (that is an understatement) and many of them struggled to make ends meet and provide for their families. Roe decided to write this book and concentrate on the 26 years, 1860-1886, between their first encounters with each other and 1886 when Parisian art dealer Paul Durand-Ruel got on a boat with 300 of their paintings and set sail for New York City. I even discovered that Monet briefly set up residence at the Hôtel Londres et New York, across from the Gare St. Lazare, the hotel where I stay with my students every March. Quelle coïncidence.
I have finished my faculty summer reading book.
Each spring, we are asked to “nominate” books we think are valuable to read and then when the list is pared down, we choose our book. When school starts back in August, we will have book discussions. Another reason to love my school. I couldn’t put this book down although it was very disturbing. The hardships of a young mixed race boy, Jojo, and his family in Mississippi isn’t necessarily “pretty” reading. Throw in Parchman, the state penitentiary, white racist grandparents, a drug addict mother, a grandmother dying of cancer, and family members who can see and hear the unsettled dead and it is pretty intense reading.
Love and Ruin by Paula McLain is the story of Ernest Hemingway and Martha Gellhorn. She was a war correspondant and Hemingway’s third wife. A great read. I wasn’t sure that I would like it after falling in love with Hadley, Hemingway’s first wife, while reading The Paris Wife also by McLain. I now have an immense amount of respect for Gellhorn and her courage.
This Dark Road to Mercy by Wiley Cash is set in North Carolina and is the story of two little girls, living in an orphanage since the death of their drug-addicted mom. Their father comes to get them and they have quite an adventure. Dangerous and dark at times. Throw in some baseball and it is a great story. I have enjoyed all of Cash’s books. He is a good North Carolina boy and I especially love him for that.
I indulged in Nicholas Sparks’ Two by Two while at the beach with Sister Moo and Best Niece. Who doesn’t need a quick read like this once in a while? A man who learns how to be a single dad and take care of his Barbie doll-loving daughter while coping with a wife who no longer loves him and for whom he has never been a good enough husband.
The Chocolate War by Martin Walker is a short story starring Bruno, chief of police in a small village in southern France. I have a huge crush on Bruno and have loved all of the mysteries he has solved.
Charles Salzberg is a writer I have gotten to know a bit through Facebook and email. Second Story Man is his latest and I couldn’t put it down- which meant reading way past my bedtime a couple of nights. “Francis Hoyt, arrogant, athletic, brilliant, manipulative and ruthless, is a master burglar.” That line alone should hook you. I would love to attend Charles’ New York Writers Workshop someday…
The Alice Network by Kate Quinn tops the list of books I have recently read. It is the story of a woman recruited as a spy during WWI and an American who is searching for her lost cousin in 1947. The novel is set in France and takes the reader back and forth between the two wars and the story of amazing women doing what they could to help their country win the war. This is subject that I can’t seem to read enough about these days. Meeting Monique Saigal while in Paris in March, listening to her story, and then reading her book, French Heroines, 1940-1945, were life changing experiences for me. At the age of 3, Monique was put on a train by her Jewish grandmother to get her out of Paris and to a safer place in the southwest France during WWII. Monique was taken in by a young woman and her father and given a new identity, that of a Catholic child, for nine years. Her grandmother died at Auschwitz one month after putting Monique on that fateful train. Many thanks to Niece M for pointing me towards The Alice Network. She read it for a book club organized by someone at her workplace.
I have a couple of books waiting in the wings (in addition to a couple of books on designing curriculum…).
I found this one at Flyleaf Books in Chapel Hill while waiting to have a delicious dinner next door at Kitchen with Mme M. Looks good, n’est-ce pas? I love Flyleaf. And books about eating.
And last, but not least, on my list at the moment is Ann Mah‘s latest book, released in June, The Lost Vintage. I am a big Ann fan. I learned quite a bit while reading Mastering the Art of French Eating. Ann even sent me a signed book plate for my book. Her newsletters are always full of great information and her website includes recipes. The sure way to my heart.
So there you have it. Not a complete list, but definitely the highlights. Reading is one of my greatest passions. Mlle Adorable, my 16-month-old granddaughter, is already showing signs of being an avid reader When she comes to visit, she heads straight for her stack of books. This is my favorite photo of her and Granddad, taken a couple of weeks ago at Sunset Beach.
Bon appétit! “Reading can seriously damage your ignorance.” Spread the word and keep reading. If you have any suggestions, please leave a comment!