If you weren’t aware, the FIFA World Cup is in full swing, sparking good-natured national rivalry across the globe. I decided it would be fun to pick a country, and find books that I’ve read that offer a representation of said country, whether that be historically, culturally or linguistically. Today (or at least, as I write this) France plays Germany! I’ve chosen to pick books based on France not necessarily because I support them but because the books I’ve read about Germany tend to be focused around the World Wars, which I didn’t feel was a fair representation of the country.
- Revolution – Jennifer Donnelly This YA historical fiction is grossly under-appreciated. Two girls from different centuries find that their paths collide in Paris, only to discover that they are not alone in their struggles. It’s been a long time since I read this, but I will say this: no plot summary can do justice to the brilliant work that is this book. Five stars from me!
- The Red Necklace – Sally Gardner Don’t worry – this is the last one related to the French revolution! Sally Gardner is one of my favourite authors both for YA and Adult literature, and this was the book that introduced me to her. This historical fiction blends magic realism, fantasy and romance to make one of my all-time favourite novels. Another five stars!
- Waiting for Anya – Michael Morpurgo I think, being a Michael Morpurgo book, we can all assume that this is going to be a heart-warming and tenderly told read. Set in the Second World War, the story follows an endeavour to rescue Jewish children from the Nazi regime. A really touching children’s book that receives 4 stars from me.
- The Invention of Hugo Cabret – Brian Selznick Recently adapted into a movie, this beautiful YA/children’s book blends illustration and prose to create a completely original steam-punk-esque depiction of 1930’s Paris. Definitely recommended for all ages; you’ll fall in love with orphaned Hugo as he searches for answers. 4 stars!
- Chocolat – Joanne Harris This one’s a movie, too! When slightly eccentric mother and daughter move to a little French village, they create a stir. The unheard-of blasphemy of opening a chocolaterie during Lent means that tension is manifest. Beautifully written and sensitively told, Chocolat is a really fantastic novel that I gave 4 stars.
- La Parure – Guy de Maupassant To my shame, this is the only book on my list that was originally written in French. It’s a short story published in English as “The Necklace.” A comment on consumerism and an exploration of human nature, this is well worth a read. (As it’s such a short work, I’m hesitant to attempt a plot summary for fear of diminishing the reading experience!) That’s 3 stars from me.
If you’ve read any of these books, I’d love to know what you thought of them! Also, who are you supporting this World Cup? Are there any books about France that you’d recommend? Thanks for reading, and have a lovely day!