Patrick Modiano ‘La Rue des Boutiques Obscures’

I had read nothing of the 2014 Nobel prize winner’s work. I had seen him on the television in the 90’s and was aware of the difference between the flow of the language in his books and the relative difficulty I had seen in his verbal expression in the television interview.

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So I began my initiation into Modiano by his prix Goncourt novel ‘Rue des Boutiques Obscures’ translated into English as Missing Person where his main character Guy Roland, an employee of a private detective agency, searches  from the start to the end his own real identity which he forgot in an event unknown ten years earlier.

The book was written in the 70’s and the characters include elderly White Russians and their community as well as events in ex pat communities around the Second World War, this is a hunt, clue by clue for his elusive past. We are as unconvinced of the probability that he is on track as is he, we travel through Paris at the present day (the 70’s) learning about the different groups of people his contacts belong to, everyone ends up trying to help him, generous in their own ways and we are eventually sucked into thinking that out of the improbable comes the possible.

The book is about the quest we all lead for our own identities and the generosity we can inspire through openness.

Many of you may have read Modiano, I found this a compulsive read and will read more, perhaps his latest work ‘Pour que tu ne te perdes  pas dans le quartier’

First published in France in 1978 by Gallimard
Translated into English as Missing Person by Daniel Weissbort and published in 1980 by Jonathan Cape

Jean Teulé ‘Montespan’

I’m not normally an avid reader of historical fiction, but was tempted by the author Jean Teulé, an established French author and the subject matter Montespan, the husband of the famous favourite of Louis XIV of France. As Jean Teulé explains, in the century where Versailles is built, there are 5000 people who live in Versailles, in and around the king and only two toilets. Tell me more

Jennifer Egan ‘A Visit from the Goon Squad’

The 2011 Pulitzer Prize winner has been at the back of my mind as a novel to investigate, well, since It won the prize I guess, I chose the long dark evenings of February for this pleasure. Tell me more

Jo Nesbo ‘Police’

This book is the tenth in the Harry Hole series, a well written and cleverly pieced together novel including Police ( a number of police officers sadistically murdered), politicians who in the black world described come out ahead (the ‘they’re all corrupt’ vision). Tell me more

Håkan Nesser ‘Man Without a dog’

A few years ago during a business trip to Germany, whilst rooting through offers in a bookshop, I came across a well presented Scandinavian author of crime novels, but I had neither come across him in France or in the UK. 5 or 6 years later I came across an audio book of his in my lending library ‘Homme sans Chien’ ‘Man without a dog’ Tell me more

Guillaume Musso ‘L’appel de l’ange’

Guillaume Musso is one of the most popular novelists in France, regularly in the top 20 sales table, he has published 7 novels to date of which 2 are available in English through Gallic Books. Musso mixes romance and adventure in his books. I really did not know what to expect from this author but felt I could not ignore him. Tell me more

Tim Gautreaux ‘The Missing’

Following my visit to the Festival America’ at Vincennes in September I said I’d keep you posted When I had read ‘The Missing’.
With Christmas looming up I decided to treat myself to this book, as I mentioned in a previous post, Tim Gautreaux lives in and his writing breathes Louisiana, I read ‘The Missing’ in English but it has also been translated recently into French ‘Nos Disparus’.

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I decided to illustrate the book with the French cover, a beautiful photo and relevant to the story. Tell me more