Florence’s Book Club: August

Welcome to this month’s edition of Florence’s Book Club. Although the name is the same, after the popularity of Gemma’s Summer Reading post, we decided to keep the reviews short and sweet, more of a round up of what Rachel is reading as a taster to possibly inspire you. I’ve been inspired already reading the selection here and I hope you will too. We also hope you’ll participate too – let us know if you’ll be picking one of these up, or if you have a great read to recommend. Summer holiday season is still in full swing and I don’t doubt that a few of us could do with a good read or two to take away.

Lunch in Paris: A Delicious Love Story, with Recipes by Elizabeth Bard.
This is not a book for you if you’re a squeamish vegetarian nor if you’re looking for a ‘deep thinking, discover new words, enjoy the way a sentence feels in your mind having read it’ book. This is a book for a jolly good quick and easy read if you like reading about food, relationships and living in a foreign country. I raced through this book. American Elizabeth Bard met a French man, fell in love and moved to Paris. With recipes dotted in between each chapter I don’t know whether to store this book on my cookbook shelf or novel bookshelf. I think this would be a perfect read for going on a self catering holiday where one doesn’t want to take a recipe book but may want inspiration for what to cook – et voila it’s two in one!

The Mirador: Dreamed Memories of Irene Nemirovsky by her Daughter, Elisabeth Gille.
Have you read Suite Francaise? The novel that was started, but never finished due to Irene Nemirovsky being sent to Auschwitz, stored in a suitcase as her daughters hid and many years later the suitcase was opened? It is an amazing book. Back to The Mirador though. This book is written by Nemirovsky’s daughter from the perspective of her mother using letters, notes and family memories, as she was only five when her mother was taken to Auschwitz. Beginning with childhood in wealthy Russia, journeying to Paris, being a teenager, avid reader and writer living in some ways a treasured life… until the war. It’s an unusual book but good insight into another world, a brief history of Russia in the early 20th century, the outbreak of war in France and how it felt to be Jewish.

Mrs Bridge by Evan S. Connell
I was drawn to this slim book in the shop by its cover. Written in 1959 it’s about a wealthy Kansas housewife, her family, her thoughts, her emotions and her life. In our 20th century where we ponder combining career and motherhood here is a wealthy woman with no career, and staff to arrange her every need. How does she fill her days, especially when her three children are grown up? It’s amusing, it’s sad, it’s poignant. It made me think of Mad Men’s Betty Draper.

Jane Eyre – Charlotte Bronte
I shan’t even begin reviewing this book, just share my story of reading it to encourage a read or re-read. I read this first as a 19 year old and absolutely loved it. Re-read it in my late twenties and couldn’t rediscover what I’d loved the first time round, disappointed and determined to re-find it thought I’d wait and so ten years later here I am. I’m a little nearer to how my 19 year old self first found it, though surprised that I loved it, not being one for the dark brooding man. If this doesn’t tempt you for a read/re read how about this passage.

‘…for I am to take mademoiselle to the moon, and there I shall seek a cave in one of the white valleys among the volcano-tops, and mademoiselle shall live with me there, and only me.
‘She shall have nothing to eat: you will starve her,’ observed Adele,
‘I shall gather manna for her morning and night: the plains and hillsides in the moon are bleached with manna, Adele.’
‘She will want to warm herself: what shall she do for fire?
‘Fire rises out of the lunar mountains: when she is cold I will carry her up to a peak, and lay her down on the edge of a crater.’
‘Oh qu’elle y sera mal – peu comfortable! and her clothes, they will wear out: how can she get new ones?’
Mr Rochester professed to be puzzled. ‘Hem!’ said he, ‘…How would a white or pink cloud answer for a gown, do you think? And one could cut a pretty enough scarf out of a rainbow.’

Rachel x

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10 thoughts on “Florence’s Book Club: August

  1. I read Jane Eyre at university and loathed it, I’m always intrigued by how people react to it in such different ways. I do like the sound of Mrs Bridge.


    • Im the same when it comes to Jane Eyre I’m afraid!
      The others sound great though, I finished the Language of flowers in 2 evenings and loved it btw!! Was a bit late on the bookclub bandwagon with that one!

  2. Ooooh, the description of Lunch in Paris sounds similar to a book I read before I went to Cairo called Apricots on the Nile: http://www.amazon.co.uk/Apricots-Nile-Recipes-Colette-Rossant/dp/0747558167

    Not being one for cooking or cook books, it was more a great way to set the scene for a food-filled trip to an amazing city… so maybe you should store it on your travel shelf?! 🙂

    Interested to read Mrs Bridge, thanks for the recommendation!

  3. As a French girl who’s just married an American boy, it sounds like Lunch in Paris is going to be a compulsory read!

    A very interesting and eclectic mix of books – thanks Rachel! There are now all on my kindle wish list (I haven’t read Jane Eyre in at least 10 years… time for a revisit!).


    • Celine – It was fascinating being British reading this. It felt like looking outside in on a culture. I imagine in your situation it wi be really interesting.

  4. The Mirador is definitely on my list to read. Rachel, if this isn’t too odd, I read One Fine Day (Mollie Panter-Downes) recently and thought of you (even though we’ve never met!). I thought it was the best book I’d read for a long time and it jerked me out of a bit of a self pity mire. I always like the Book Club posts – I’ve just bought the Paris Wife! x

    • Emily – Lovely comment. I think One Fine Day was my book of the year when I read it. For such a slim book it packs wonderful description, life & emotion.

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