Elizabeth Bard has Lunch in Paris

 

Keeping it short: this is a book of American-Lunch in ParisFrench glamour, with hearty recipes. The perfect indulgent read for francophiles looking to sample the life of the foreigner in France.

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Winter’s Children – Leah Fleming

Winter’s Children is just enjoyable. I don’t know where I stand on my belief in ghosts, but I do enjoy a good ghost story. Not that I would describe this story as such.

ImageThe character of Nik is exactly how I’d imagine a farmer to be. The grumpy solitariness his character is similar to that of the very dark Sam Marsdyke in God’s own Country (by Ross Raisin). Not only that, but he actually buys a Border Fine Arts farm animal figurine, something I know is mostly popular in farming families.

Sometimes the moving backwards and forwards through decades and centuries can leave a reader confused. But not in this book. You don’t feel lost or wish you were reading about only one generation of the family, because all the characters have something interesting to tell.

The blurb on the back of the book suggests the protagonists must find out the secrets of the family’s past before they can stop tragedies from happening. In the end the ghosts actually solve their own problems rather than communicating with the modern family. But believe what goes on in the book, I think this is probably necessary Too much interaction between ghosts and earthly beings would make it very difficult to believe that the main characters were sane.

Over all, this story works really well as a modern telling of old times.

Chick lit at its best

I love Miranda Dickinson, and her latest book, When I fall in Love, does not disappoint. Miranda is a fluid, natural writer. Her characters are highly likeable and you find yourself warming to them instantly.

I’m so glad that the female characters in her latest book have taken to saying ‘hon’ or lovely’ as terms of endearment – not because they’re expressions I like but because in her previous books the ‘females’ (as the Dad in Friday Night Dinner would call them) usually said ‘mate.’ And for some reason, this didn’t ring true for me.Image

Brighton becomes a romantic seaside backdrop for the Maynard family and the dream-world ice cream shop Elsie works at. You want to experience Brighton in this light, it feels homely and familiar and exciting at the same time. Even more exciting is the visit to Paris. Miranda’s description feels like a real Francophile’s view of the city – the anticipation of the culture, the stereotypical sights and an obsession with food.

Whilst there’s a sad theme running through this story, there’s no dwelling on this topic. In fact I came away feeling revitalised and motivated. If Elsie can move on from her tragedy then we can all make progress and achieve our dreams too.

Tales of the City by Armistead Maupin

A friend who read these books as a teenager recommended Tales of the City and I wondered if I’d maybe missed the boat and the book’s moment. Would it just be a bit of seventies trash with nothing familiar to draw me in?

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It was a bit trashy and very seventies, and actually a lot of what went  on in the book did feel of the time and place. But…it did draw me in. I suspect a lot of the topics and people in the book were controversial in the seventies – a very camp flatmate, apparently straight men dabbling in non-straight past-times, and perverts in the extreme – to be honest, it still seems a little shocking now. Maupin manages to add unexpected depth to characters that at first you think just aren’t very nice. Mary Ann is the least surreal of the characters and perhaps one of the dullest as a consequence. Still, she’s believable and she balances out the other eccentric people in the story.

I got a real feel for the bohemian San Francisco and what it might have been like at the time. Tentatively risque with its inhabitants trying to fit in with all the new ‘happenings’ going on in the vibrant city.