Two Books – Translations

I’m back with two more books for you to check out. If you are participating in Paris in July one of these would be perfect as it is set in Paris. But even if you aren’t participating and just want to do a bit of arm chair travel, these are books by French authors that I’ve recently discovered and can recommend.

Fresh Water for Flowers
By Valérie Perrin; translated by Hildegarde Serle

“My name is Violette Toussaint. I was a level-crossing keeper, now I’m a cemetery keeper. I savor life, I sip at it, like jasmine tea sweetened with honey. And when evening comes, and the gates to my cemetery are closed, and the key is hanging on my bathroom door, I’m in heaven.”

Violette has been caring for a small cemetery in Bourgogne for 20 years. She escaped her former life after her relationship was faltering and a tragic event took place. But though she lives in a cemetery, she has all that she needs. The quirky staff that keeps the places running and the tombstones and the stories the hold. One day Detective Julian Seul  comes to the cemetery to lay his mother’s ashes at the tombstone of her lover. He’ll meet Violette and as the two share their pasts they learn to move heal and move forward.

Some of the best parts about this book were the moments where Violette shares more of her carefree ways, like the lighthearted pranks she’ll pull on some of the visitors. After dealing with grief it was nice to see how she slowly gained confidence in moving on in life. I loved the cemetery staff too. The story has a lot going for it but I thought it took too long to get to what had happened in Violette’s life and the story of Julian’s mother, while interesting was also just drawn out too long.

The Readers’ Room
By Antoine Laurain; translated by Jane Aitken, Emily Boyce and Polly Mackintosh

“Two million French people dream of having their book published if the surveys that have appeared over the years are to be believed. Most of them never get round to actually writing the book. Their drafts staying in their head all of their lives – a dream that they like to entertain on holiday.”

At the Parisian publishing house headed by Violaine Lapage, a manuscript titled Sugar Flowers, arrives and has all the readers abuzz with the promise of holding a special book manuscript in their hands. Violaine tries to meet the mysterious author, Camille Desencres, but all she has is an email and decides to publish the book anyway. Now it looks like the book is about to win the prestigious Prix Goncourt and Violaine can’t reach Camille and then things start to get more complicated when police detectives notice a similarity in some crimes to those in the book.

I loved this book. From the tidbits of the publishing world, to the details of Violaine’s rise in the publishing world. It is all so wonderful and for such a slim novel, you really get such a sense of place. There is so much more I’m leaving out but I don’t want to spoil this in case you read it and if you like books about books or books set in Paris or mysteries, then this is one you cannot miss.

These were advance review copies from the publishers.

Both of these also count towards my Reading in Translation Reading Challenge. Let me know if these sound good to you or if you’ve already read them.

  1. July 23, 2021
  2. July 23, 2021
  3. July 23, 2021
  4. July 24, 2021
  5. July 24, 2021
  6. July 24, 2021
  7. July 26, 2021
  8. July 29, 2021