Literary Travels: Vive la France

It must have been some residual subconscious that has me reading stories from/about/taking place in France– it seems our recent trip there was an aeon ago and not just a couple months.

I won’t go into lengthy reviews of my recent literary pursuits–but I did enjoy them and they were very different from one another.

Sarah’s Key by Tatiana de Rosnay

The friends who recommended this one told me to prepare for a depressing couple weeks. This tragic story is about a family arrested during the Vel’ d’Hiv roundup that took place in Paris in 1942, focusing on a little girl named Sarah who–in one way, shape or form–survived. The story is set in Paris in 2002 and follows a present day journalist writing about the anniversary of the event who stumbles upon Sarah’s story.

Although we hear and read lots about WWII, I was not familiar with the Vel’ d’Hiv roundup so I thought the history was interesting. I researched those events while I was reading this book and for a little while after. It is still incredible to me, in a terrible way, that people were able to get away with what they did during that war, and depressing that these mass genocides still happen today.

I was interested in the history of the book but I never really felt in touch with the characters. I didn’t get pulled in as I had hoped. It only took me three days to read, and I gave it three stars on Goodreads.

Chocolat by Joanne Harris

I’ve owned this book forever and finally got around to reading it. Set in southern France, this story is about a mother and daughter who live a gypsy-type life, moving from place and place and creating a stir wherever they go. They move to a small town just as this book begins and set up a chocolate shop, tempting the townspeople with the sinfully good chocolate but uncovering truths in the process. The local minister sets out to end this corruption, and the reader explores good and bad, virtue and vice.

Again, I just couldn’t get into the characters. I thought it was a good read, but nothing spectacular. It took me all of four days to read, and I gave it three stars on Goodreads.

There is a movie featuring Lena Olin and Johnny Depp that I might try to find on Netflix in order to compare– I almost never prefer the film, but in this case, especially if the characters are more developed, I might.

I haven’t had much time to read with all the wedding planning–I am way behind my goal to read 45 books this year. Hopefully the fall and holiday seasons will give me some free time and a chance to catch up!

Have you read anything awe-inspiring lately?

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