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#Prix Fémina 2018 Phillipe Lançon



  1. January 7  2015  during a editorial meeting at  Charlie Hebdo
  2. terrorists entered the room and killed 12 people and injuring 11.
  3. Phillipe Lançon, journalist, was shot in the face left in critical condition.
  4. Lançon reveals that he did not write the book in order to surivive.
  5. He wrote it years later when he felt his life was settled.
  6. The surgeon adviced him to  ‘revenir à la normale’
  7. ….but that is easier said than done.
  8. The title says it all: Le Lambeau
  9. All that is left of me is shreds”



  1. 30% of the book is a description of the days before the attack
  2. …the attack itself and how his brother took charge and
  3. helped him pick up the pieces.
  4. 30 % is about the long and painful
  5. reconstruction of his face.
  6. 40% is about Lançon’s physical and mental decline
  7. …balanced between healing and hope.
  8. The first 8 chapters are gripping.
  9. It is surreal to read the dream like quality of if
  10. Lançon’s first impressions after the attack as he
  11. …lay in a swamp of blood.
  12. The text is so emotional.
  13. The second half of the book concentrates on
  14. the reconstruction of the author’s jaw
  15. …and the close connection he feels for his surgeon Cholé.
  16. An important part of the book is Lançon’s  style of
  17. interlacing his life after the attack with literature.
  18. He often refers to Proust, Kafka and Shakespeare
  19. …and several books that are important for him.


Last thoughts:

  1. This book reminded me of
  2. Dante’s journey into the inferno:
  3. “Abandon all hope, ye who enter here.”
  4. I wouldn’t say a hospital is comparable to Hell
  5. …but no one likes going there.
  6. The book is draining because you follow
  7. the author in a labryinth of his PTSS mind.
  8. There is a mixture of facts, hallucinations and dreams.
  9. He sees his parents suffer
  10. …but he does not suffer.
  11. He is the suffering.
  12. very existential at times.
  13. Because Lançon  shares so much with the reader
  14. ..the book is long.
  15. You have to persevere to finish it.
  16. The epilogue….was confronting.
  17. The Bataclan attack occured only 10 months
  18. …after Charlie Hebdo on 13 November 2015
  19. This event shook Lançon to the core.
  20. #IntenseReadingExperience


Phillipe Lançon.…after the trauma of the attack and jaw recontruction.


French: Prix Fémina longlist Je reste ici

  • Author: M. Balzano
  • Title: Je reste ici
  • Genre: historical fiction
  • Language: French (translated from Italian)
  • Published: 2017
  • Trivia: Shortlisted for the Italian literary prize LXXII Premio Strega 2018
  • Trivia: Longlisted for the French literary prize Prix Fémina 2018


Historical backround:

In 1939 South Tyroleans were faced with the ‘Grand Option’ of remaining at home and becoming entirely Italianised, thereby relinquishing their German culture, or of moving into the German Reich. Initially the majority of South Tyroleans opted for emigration. This ‘Option’ went down as one of the greatest traumas in the history of the South Tyrolean people.

Society was divided, families split up and those who opted to stay behind were branded as traitors.  Here begins the core of the story.


The Hook:

If I had  to find a ‘hook’ that kept me reading was the the mother daughter bond described in chapter 1. The main character, mother Trina,  reflects on her daughter’s (Marcia) childhood. Their relationship ended abruptly when the daughter was taken to Germany by her aunt 20 years ago. This hook was  big enough to get me asking questions:

  1. Was the daughter forced to flee….or did she go willingly?
  2. How will the mother-daughter relationship develop…or not?
  3. What conflict will the main character go through?
  4. How does the main character change in the course of the story?
  5. Are mother and daughter ever reunited?

Well, you will have to read the book to see if these answers were answered!



  1. This book is very easy to ready in French
  2. ….all things chronologically presented.
  3. There were no surprises and
  4. …Balzano gives us no great depth of character.
  5. The historical backround is “ripe for the picking”.
  6. It is a period of history that I rarely read about.
  7. Unfortunately the book is “un’occasione sprecata” (wasted opportunity)
  8. …in the hands of M. Balzano.


Last thoughts:

  1. Although the book is poorly written
  2. …it is does tell a sympathetic and original story.
  3. It is a pity that Balzano’s writing style is not up to the level
  4. …with his  imagination.
  5. In short…”tutto viene detto, pochissimo viene mostrato
  6. …all is told, very little is shown!
  7. #PeuDéçu

2018 Les Prix Littéraires Longlists

List of   Winners 2017


Longlists  2018:

Prix Fémina 2018

Prix Femina a désigné Philippe Lançon lauréat 2018 pour

il raconte le calvaire de sa reconstruction
longue et douloureuse, que ce soit physiquement ou mentalement.
Son ouvrage est aussi en lice pour le prix Renaudot.


David Diop avec Frère d’âme (Seuil),
Gilles Martin-Chauffier pour L’Ère des suspects (Grasset),
Diane Mazloum avec L’Âge d’or (JC Lattès) et
Pierre Notte pour Quitter le rang des assassins (Gallimard).

Le Femina étranger 2018
La Neuvième heure d’Alice Mc Dermott (Quai Voltaire) et
Le Femina essai 2108
Gaspard de la nuit d’Elisabeth de Fontenay (Stock).


Prix Goncourt 2018

  1. Nicolas Mathieu, pour Leurs Enfants après eux  (SHORTLIST) – WINNER
  2. Tobie Nathan, pour L’Évangile selon Youri (SHORTLIST)
  3. Daniel Picouly pour Quatre-vingt-dix secondes  (SHORTLIST)
  4. Thomas B. Reverdy, pour L’Hiver du mécontentement  (SHORTLIST)
  5. François Vallejo, pour Hôtel Waldheim  (SHORTLIST)
  6. Pauline Delabroy-Allard, pour ça raconte Sarah  (SHORTLIST)
  7. David Diop, pour Frère d’âme  (SHORTLIST)
  8. Paul Greveillac, pour Maîtres et Esclaves  (SHORTLIST)


  1. Gilles Martin-Chauffier, pour L’Ère des suspects
  2. Meryem Alaoui, pour La Vérité sort de la Bouche du cheval
  3. Inès Bayard, pour Les Malheur du bas
  4. Guy Boley, pour Quand Dieu boxait en amateur
  5. Adeline Dieudonné, pour La Vraie Vie
  6. Clara Dupont-Monod, pour La Révolte
  7. Éric Fottorino, pour Dix-Sept ans


Prix Reaudot 2018

Le prix Renaudot a été attribué à
Valérie Manteau pour Le sillon  qui évoque la figure du journaliste et écrivain Hrant Dink, militant de la cause arménienne assassiné par un nationaliste turc. Elle ne figurait pas dans la liste des finalistes du prix.

Les jurés du prix Renaudot ont en outre attribué un “prix spécial”
à Philippe Lançon pour Le lambeau, qui a déjà remporté le prix Femina.

Frère d’âme de David Diop (Seuil),
L’ère des suspects de Gilles Martin-Chauffier (Grasset),
Le lambeau de Philippe Lançon (Gallimard),
L’âge d’or de Diane Mazloum (JC Lattès),
Quitter le rang des assassins de Pierre Notte (Gallimard).


Prix Le Médicis 2018

  1. Tous les hommes désirent naturellement savoir – N. Bouraoui/J. Lattès
  2.  Frère d’âme – David Diop
  3. Arcadie – Emmanuelle Bayamack-Tam
  4. Idiotie – Pierre Guyotat – WINNER
  5. Le lambeau Philippe Lançon, Gallimard
  6. Tenir jusqu’à l’aube – Carole Fives
  7. Par les écrans du monde – Fanny Taillandier
  8. Ca raconte Sarah – Pauline Delabroy-Allard
  9. Leurs enfants après eux – Nicolas Mathieu
  10. Au grand lavoir – Sophie Daull
  11. L’eau qui passe – Franck Maubert
  12. Le coeur blanc – Catherine Poulain

Classic: Pensées




  1. Difficult, difficult..very difficult to read in French!
  2. I realized the edition I had was more than just Pensées.
  3. Of the 736 pages I read the first part (pg 5-257)
  4. …and that was enough!
  5. But, no matter how difficult this book was
  6. …I never gave up.
  7. I knew there had to be some ‘gems’
  8. of wisdom waiting for me.
  9. Pascal was a genius in his time.
  10. He excelled in science and mathematics
  11. …before his turn to religion.
  12. Pensées captures his insights in elegant
  13. pithy (difficult) phrases.
  14. His words at times went over my head (existential)
  15. …but at other times his words went straight to my heart.
  16. I will end with one of his most famous quotes:
  17. “Le coeur a ses raisons que la raison ne connaît point”
  18. The heart has its reasons which reason does not know.


Last thoughts:

  1. Yes, I had thoughts….about Pascal’s thoughts!
  2. Here are a few things I jotted down while reading.
  3. This is a  #Classic…and I am glad I can
  4. …say I have a general idea what it is about!


Humor: (pg 51)

The causes and effects of love:
… if Cleopatra’s nose had been shorter
….it would have changed the face of the world!


Faith: …beautifully said! (pg 55) 

Faith is in our heart and
makes us NOT say I know….but I believe.


Literary devices:

Chiasmus: (pg 66)

The sentence is grammatically the same, even when it is reversed!

Peu de chose nous console parce que
Peu de chose nous afflige

A few things console us because
A few things distress us



I skipped a few long discussions
about imagination vs reason….it was just too long
too complicated. (pg 66-73) Forgive me
pyrrhonism – I skipped pg 113 – 119… Forgive me…
disproportion of man – I skipped pg 161 – 171… Forgive me…
These are not ‘short thoughts’ (pensées)they are small essays!
that are difficult in English…not to mention in French.


Style Pascalienne:

Pascal uses (…what I call) 1-2-3 — 3-2-1 logic!

The words are reversed to give another meaning.
This ‘redoubles’ its complexity!
I have to read these fragments very slowly and let the thought sink in!
Here is an example:

Il soit force (1) d’obéir (2) à la justice. (3)
Il soit juste (3) d’obéir (2) à la force. (1)

It is forced to obey justice
…it is just to obey force.   (pg 93)


Amusement (pg 121)

Men attempt to forget their misery
rather than find true happiness.
Only amusement permits him to flee
…his tragic existence.

Religion: (pg 151)

  • There are a few true Christians.
    There are those who believe
  • …but through superstition.
    There are those who do not believe
  • through the lack of moral restraint.
    Few are in between

Religion: (pg 154)

Faith says what the senses cannot say

not the contrary of what they (senses) say.
Faith is well above…and not against.


Thought: (Pensée) (pg171)

Our dignity is contained in the mind (pensée)
It is there that we pick ourselves up again….
Try to think.




Non-fiction: Maupassant (biography)


  • Author: F. Maritnez
  • Title: Maupassant (1850-1893)
  • Genre: biography
  • Published: 2012


  1. In order to understand any books by Maupassant it is
  2. …important to know more about the man.
  3. Here is my review of the biography of Maupassant.
  4. I hope it will provide you with some information that
  5. …can help you.


  1. Each book that I read in French is a challenge and I found the writing style of   Frédéric Martinez easy to follow.   The book is filled with correspondence between Maupassant and people who were important to him. It was as if he were speaking directly to the reader.
  2. Much emphasis is placed on his home in Normandy, Etretat. It was always an escape from the oppressing life in Paris.
  3. In the course of the last 4 weeks I got to know   Guy….it was a strange man.
  4. A gifted writer determined to succeed in the literary world, and yet always battling his demons:
  5. terrible migraines, hallucinations, a craving for the erotic, a dread of aging and death.
  6. There were only two stars that would govern his life, Laure Le Poittevin ( mother) and the sun.
  7. Sometimes is was sad to read about Maupassant’s physical deterioration to   the point where he said   “Je ne peux pas écrire. Je n’y vois plus. C’est le désastre de ma vie”.
  8. (I can’t write…my life is a disaster.)



  1. Maupassant deserves more of my attention.
  2. I want to learn more about the man before starting another one of his books.
  3. I’m also Interested in the mothers of these world writers.
  4. Who were they?
  5. How did they influence/nurture their children.
  6. As the saying goes..” the apple does not fall far from the tree!”
  7. Maupassant enjoyed a carefree youth in Normandy.
  8. I’m so impressed by his wise and loving mother.
  9. I did not feel any character like her in Bel-Ami.
  10. On the contrary, his father was much more
  11. …like the “parvenu” social climbing G Duroy!
  12. Mme Maupassant leaves her husband and is determined to make sure Guy:
  13. ” il faut apprendre l’art et les manières”. (He must learn the art of good manners)
  14. His life was short and the book will cover 27 years (1866-1893) in the next 162 pages.
  15. This glimpse of the man is even more interesting to me than the book Bel-Ami.
  16. His love of La Normand, son bateau, compagnon fidèle, Matho ( le chien).


  1. Maupassant  struggled with ridged Catholic schooling .
  2. He vows never to belong to Les Parisiennes.
  3. Under the guidance of Flaubert GdM will “entreprendre une oeuvre de longue haleine”
  4. Guy is now chained to his desk earning a living and wasting his time.
  5. GdM has his dark side hidden by his “gaillardise (guy-ness)
  6. …figure tranche (honest face) et manières simples” .
  7. He reveals his true feeling in letters to his kind mother.
  8. “Je me trouve seul devant ma table avec ma triste lamp”. (…alone at my desk with my lamp)
  9. Winter terrified GdM: (black…sinsiter…deep….the midnight of the year)
  10. C ‘est décembre qui me terrifie, le mois noir,
  11. le mois sinistre, le mois profond , la minuit de l’ année…”
  12. Maupassant is burning the candle at both ends.
  13. He is a depressed workaholic who is suffering from heart problems and syphilis.


  1. After recuperating in the Alpes he celebrates…in a brothel.
  2. “cette amélioration au bordel.” (old habits never die)
  3. It is no surprise that his life will be short and that he will produces,
  4. in his last 15 years, a waterfall of literature that we still enjoy today:
  5. 300 short stories, 6 novels, 3 travel books and 1 book of poetry.
  6. Sickness, debt, employment do not impact Maupassant as does the death of “le vieux” Flaubert. This book is full of correspondence between GdM en GF.
  7. Flaubert is constantly rescuing Maupassant and guiding him to greatness.
  8. GdM flirts and wins over a new lover but as usual the flame goes out very soon.
  9. Guy gets easlily bored.
  10. Une Vie (1883) was an homage to Flaubert.
  11. “A Life” is completed. His (Maupassant)  is finally starting
  12. Fact: Guy was starting to go blind and hired a butler to help him
  13. These two men were never separated during the last 10 yrs.
  14. Page after page Maupassant complains about boredom:
  15. “Je m’ embête sans relâche, sans repos, sans espoir”.
  16. (bored…constantly, no hope)
  17. Relentlessly bored wanting nothing, expecting nothing.
  18. Guy can be tiresome at times.
  19. Maupassant, man of the world, is happiest when alone.
  20. (live in absolute solitude)
  21. “je vis dans une solitude absolue.
  22. Je suis dans un bain de repos, silence, dans un bain d’ adieu”.
  23. (…bath of rest, silence, good-byes).

Une Vie:

  1. The main character, Jeanne, is based on
  2. …Maupassant’s mother, Laure le Poittevin.
  3. She was a victim on an uphappy marriage and submitted
  4. herself to an adulterous and violent husband.
  5. Laure made a strong move…supported by her friend G. Flaubert
  6. and left her husband which was unusual in the 19th C.
  7. She concentrated all her attention on her son, Guy.
  8. As you read the book you can see the similarities
  9. between Laure and Jeanne



  1. I expected GdM to be more like Bel-Ami…the  social climber.
  2. He is just the opposite, a lover of nature and the sea.
  3. Piroli the cat loves him, Francois (butler) cares for him
  4. …and the literary world reveres him.
  5. Maupassant finds it hard to cope with the needs of
  6. …his mentally ill brother Hervé, elderly mother Laure and his own health.
  7. He tries to bury his worries with “sous rires et gaieté” . .
  8. Interesting was the anguish GdM went through visiting his now insane brother.
  9. Heartbreaking. We feel GdM wondering
  10. “… quand sera-ce mon tour?”
  11. Will he be the next in the family to loose their mind?


  1. The end is near.
  2. Looking in the mirror GdM sees how death is ruining his body.
  3. He flees to every thermal spa but they are a “Way of the Cross” for him.
  4. It takes him 1 minute to write 1 word, he is practically blind.
  5. On 06 Jan 1892 GdM is in a
  6. …straight jacket and committed to an asylum in Paris.
  7. His butler, Francois, visits him everyday.
  8. GdM died 1,5 years later on 06 July 1893. (43 yr)
  9. Maupassant was a very private person, little is known about him.
  10. He said: “Je laisse seulement parler de mes livres
  11. Let them only talk about my books….

Classic: G. de Maupassant



  1. There is more to this book than meets the eye.
  2. Maupassant did not want to just tell a story.
  3. He wanted us to understand the meaning behind events.
  4. This was an eye-opener for me.
  5. How often do I read a story and say I liked it or not.
  6. I learned in this book to look at the has a hidden meaning.
  7. I noticed if Jeanne (MC) traveled…where to? …and how it changed her.
  8. In the first line we read ‘she packed her bags’
  9. …this reveals she is moving.
  10. “Jeanne, ayant fini ses malles…”
  11. Jeanne is in transition…from life during a convent education.
  12. to new places
  13. She travels 4 times.
  14. How did each voyage change her?


Themes:  Love, marriage, motherhood, adultery, ruthless ambition

  1. What was Maupassant’s message in this book?
  2. Marriage is a trap!


  1. The decline of the ‘noblesse’ class who are incapable to adapt to the times
  2. The provincial morals and values Normandy in the 19th C
  3. The power of the Catholic Church and its prelates on the social order.
  4. Marriage: woman has the duty to be a good wife and mother
  5. …in exchange for losing any control over one’s life!

Look closely at the structure:

  • Part 1 is  filled with unbridled happiness.
  • This is done to contrast the depths of
  • Jeanne’s disillusionment in part 2… at the end of her life.


Look for a minor character:

  1. Tante Lison:
  2. There are many characters in the book
  3. …but I singled out one that touched my heart.
  4. No one noticed her, cared about her
  5. …she was ‘object familier, un meuble viviant.’
  6. Her nonexistence her isolation is obvious in the book
  7. ….but Maupassant put her in the spotlight!
  8. She is in every important scene even
  9. …as reader I had the tendency to just pass her by!
  10. preparing trousseau for Jeanne’s wedding
  11.  is the only guest invited to Jeanne’s wedding
  12. godmother to Jeanne’s son Paul
  13. discovers Julien’s infidelity
  14. cares for Paul’s religious education
  15. attends family funerals and
  16. ….steps in as second mother to Jeanne.


Strong point:

  1. I liked the descriptions of nature especially the coast of Normandy.
  2. Fishermen, their families, job, boats, beaches and cliffs.
  3. You can just smell the salt in the air of
  4. his beloved homeland, Etretat, France
  5. La mer – Jeanne’s  strong feelings for the coast of Nomandy.
  6. The sea represents the infinite that stretches out  before Jeanne
  7. and the many possibilities  Une Vie has to offer her.
  8. La pluie – represents melancholy.
  9. Le soleil – represents joy
  10. Mausassant uses the changes in
  11. …seasons and nature to reflect Jeanne’s moods.


Last thoughts:

  1. The main character, Jeanne, is based on
  2. …Maupassant’s mother, Laure le Poittevin.
  3. She was a victim on an uphappy marriage and submitted
  4. herself to an adulterous and violent husband.
  5. Laure made a strong move…supported by her friend G. Flaubert
  6. and left her husband which was unusual in the 19th C.
  7. She concentrated all her attention on her son, Guy.
  8. As you read the book you can see the similarities
  9. between Laure and Jeanne.
  10. I enjoyed this book after I gave it time to settle in my mind.
  11. Maupassants’s  Bel-Ami is his most polished novel.
  12. Both books are #Classics!


Prix Goncourt 2009: Trois femmes puissantes



NDiaye: She is the daughter of a French mother
and a Senegalese father she barely knows,
and married to a white Frenchman.
She firmly anchors autobiography in her stories.

Motif: NDiaye’s metamorphoses of people into animals (hypothetical)
in Three Strong Women (birds) as a form of escape or bad omens.
Story nr 1: Father: ‘perches’ in hammock and
sleeps in the flamboyant tree in his courtyard.
Story nr 2: bird crashed on windshield of a car twice!…bad omen
Story nr 3: young girl Khady
she tries to escape her circumstances…hoping she can soar away
like the bird “…un oiseau disparaissait au loin.”
…disappearing in the distance.

Story nr 1 – ‘Le mot juste’ was so balanced
every word packed a punch. There were few rambling thoughts
just the facts larded with emotion.
Plot: I loved this story that had a whiff of magic realism!

Story nr 2Run-on sentences, also known as fused sentences, occur
when two or more complete sentences are
squashed together without using proper punctuation.
NDiaye disappointed me with the use of run-on’s ad nauseam.
Plot: I did not like this story at all, “pointe barre!”. The story drags and ends up losing its focus entirely.   Bah. #Confusing. If you feel as I did when reading story nr 2 just…”passez votre chemin”
…just move along to story nr 3!

Story nr 3 – This story is as smooth as silk…lucide, linéaire et lisable:
clear-sighted, with beginning-middle- end and most importantly…readable!


Last thoughts:

  1. I’m glad I got my emotional review on NDiaye’s book on paper
  2. …last night because I must adjust it.
  3. My ‘knee-jerk’ reaction to story 2 was due to my lack of 
  4. French vocabulary.
  5. I was exasperated, exhausted and
  6. …disillusioned.
  7. I felt I’ll never learn French.
  8. That is not the best place to be when writing a review.
  9. The run on sentences confused my overworked brain.
  10. I just could not process the story.
  11. I returned to the part of story 2
  12. …that was my initial ‘breaking bad point’ this morning.
  13. I attempted to  push through the story to the very end.
  14. I needed some strong coffee to help me.


  1. After reading all three stories I see:
  2. Three strong women  – Noah – Fanta – Khady
  3. Three weak men – Noah’s father – Rudy – Lamine
  4. Three  places:
  5. Noah in Senegal returning with difficulty
  6. Fanta in France thinking of Senegal…wishing she never left
  7. Khady in Senegal trying to get out
  8. Note: Senegal is never mentioned but there are markers
  9. in the story that point in that direction:
  10. Reubeuss prison, village Dara Salam,
  11. …arrondissement de Grand Youff, newspaper Le Soleil.


  1. Theme:   The family is the basis in the 3 stories.
  2. The families are in decline and all lack a strong father figure.
  3. This is a clear link to NDiaye’s situation
  4. …when her father abandoned her
  5. …mother and sister to return to Senegal.


  1. Women:  Each one of the heroines is torn between
  2. Senegal and France.
  3. Reading the stories you see them trying
  4. …to find there way between two continents.


  1. Marie NDiaye reveals her skills in three
  2. completely different stories and styles.
  3. Unfortunately I did not like the second story.
  4. I hope to hear from others if
  5. …they also found it ‘rough reading’
  6. …be it in English or French.
  7. Strong point:
  8. I was most impressed by NDiaye’s vocabulary.
  9. She introduced me to so many new words
  10. Reading this book in French is not for the faint-hearted.
  11. It seems I’ve struggled with few of these books in 2018.
  12. My only compensation is
  13. ….I keep learning, and learning more French!
  14. #NeverGiveUp



Classic: Le Roman de la Rose (amour courtois)

  • Trivia: The first section of the poem was written by G. de Lorris
  • 40 years later the work was completed by Jean de Meun.
  • Trivia: This long poem was translated into Middle English verse by Chaucer
  • The whole poem was translated into Modern English verse by F.S. Elilis
  • Trivia: I’m reading the translation into Modern French by André Mary


Chapter 1

The Garden of Pleasure

  1. Wonderful descriptions of a paradise like garden
  2. with paintings decorating the wall of
  3. the énciente (enclosure) of virtues and vices.
  4. We meet some ladies and gentlemen frolicking
  5. and dancing (caroler).
  6. De Lorris describes there physical attributes
  7. lavish clothes (samit – heavy silk fabric)
  8. un riche samit décoré

Chapter 2:

The Spring of Narcissus:

  1. Descriptions are becoming increasingly more difficult.
  2. Do you know how many flowers, trees, herbs, grasses, insects….
  3. …are blooming and buzzing around in this orchard?
  4. Not to mention Narcissus falling for the ‘reflection trap’ in the pond
  5. Our narrator/poet seems to be hypnotized by the rose buds!
  6. Amour shoots five arrows flying into the heart of our narrator/poet.
  7. Ouch!

Chapter 3:

Hope and Despair

  1. This was  the best chapter… far!
  2. Le Dieu d’Amour explains to our poet the
  3.  his 13 commandments for courtly love.
  4. These rules were written in 13th C
  5. …but they seem timeless!



  1. I will let you discover the rest of the book
  2. …does our poet/narrator
  3. …finally kiss his rose bud love?
  4. This is one of the oldest books
  5. …I’ve read this year (exclu myths).
  6. And I discovered….
  7. People have always been people.
  8. Cultures change, but humans don’t.
  9. Remember….. l’amour
  10. “The struggle is excessive and the joy is short-lived.” (pg 66)
  11. (La peine est excessive et la joie de courte durée.)


Last thoughts:

  1. Reading this book after struggling with the
  2. fire and brimstone religious text of Blaise Pascal felt like
  3. a relaxing, refreshing summer shower
  4. …after 4 week heat wave!
  5. Believe me I know how that feels!




Classic: Stendhal The Charterhouse of Parma



  1. Fabrice del Dongo, a young archbishop
  2. …gives his all to romance rather than to the Church.
  3. This creates complications for everyone around.
  4. Love triangle duchess Gina-Fabrice-Clélia is the basis of the book.
  5. The book collapses a few times:
  6. Battle of Waterloo, l’abbé Blanes reads the omens in Fabrice’s life.
  7. It takes 40 pages from the meeting with Giletti (hero’s rival over a love interest)
  8. to the knife fight resulting in Giletti’s death that puts Fabrice in prison.
  9. These are all scenes that don’t advance the action
  10. …and exhausted this reader.
  11. The story really gets underway when Fabrice enters prison
  12. …and falls in love with the jailer’s daughter, Clélia.
  13. This happens in chapter 18 that is more than halfway through the book.!
  14. If you can be patient and wait until the half way mark….
  15. you may enjoy this French classic.


  • Author: Jean-Claude Berchet (1939)
  • Title:  Chateaubriand
  • Published: 2012
  • Genre: biography
  • Language: French
  • Trivia: Berchet is a François-René Chateaubriand specialist.
  • List Reading Challenges 2018
  • Monthly planning
  • Here is the list of my  French Books.
  • I have included reviews of  books  2017 – 2018.
  • Perhaps you can find a book you’d like to  read!



Strong point: combination of biography and history (start of Fr Revolution as experienced by Chateaubriand…interesting perspective! The entire system of medieval institutions had been destroyed!

Strong point: Berchet also takes time to explain the influence such great men as Malesherbes and Mirabeau had on Chateaubriand. The reader is treated to more than just the biography of Francois-Rene….but many more illustrious Frenchmen.

Travel: America, Chateaubriand traveled to the new world July – December 1791. He was bewitched (evoûté) by the landscape, people and especially the indians.
Chateaubriand: the man….was obsessed by the conviction that happiness is an illusion…elusive and not to be achieved. (pg 196)

Strong point: books like this etch ‘important dates and events’ in my mind more than all the ‘learn by heart’ studying done high-school.
I was never told to  read an ‘extra historical book’  from a reading list to be used in class in addition to our text book! Why? There is so much more to learn that is NOT in the standard school books.

History: There are some good insights about the French Revolution in this book, 17 July 1789: You cannot fool all of the people….all of the time!
Louis XVI after fall of the Bastille proclaimed himself father of his ‘folk’. Unfortunately this ‘folk’ “ne tardera pas à lui couper la tête” !
They were quick to chop off his head!

Reading strategy: Decided to ‘skim’ 115 pages (231-347). We all know after Battle of Thionville (1792) C. was wounded, exiled to England, started writing his books and returned to France 06 May 1800. I’ve kept on ‘skimming’ when necessary.

Berchet goes ‘way overboard with the years C. was in England. Many of his friends (Fontanes)…are included in this section and the death of C’s mother and sister Julie. Time to move on to history and Napoleon!

Structure of book:  50% biography – 25% travel journal (America, England, Italy, Greece, Turkey, Jerusalem, Egypt, Spain) 25% lives of other notables in Chateaubriand’s circle of friends. The book could have been 300 pages shorter.

Marriage: Arranged marriage with Celeste was a catastrophe. Chateaubriand had other love interests: Mme Delphine de Custine and Mme de Noailles.

Weak point: …useless, useless details!  pg 540: the price of ‘La Vallée-aux-Loups’, the loan agreements and a list of furniture on the 1st floor of the building. This is just a waste of my reading time! Berchet: (ch 3) goes off course  explaining Chateaubriand’s brother’s marriage contract!. If you read this book you get not only Francois René…but the entire family and in-laws!


Last thoughts:

  1. This book is NOT for the casual reader…comme moi!
  2. …who just wants to know about Chateaubriand in general terms.
  3. This book is for the serious scholar.
  4. Lesson learned:
  5. I should have just read Chateaubraind’s wikipedia page.
  6. update:
  7. I must wait and  see every day
  8. …what Francois René C. has up his sleeve!
  9. He is NOT my idea of a perfect dinner guest.
  10. His brooding personality would make any soufflé collapse!


Brooding dinner guest…