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About France

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    Settling In
  • Birthday 06/27/1954

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  1. I'm currently reading Civlizations by Laurent Binet for one of my book clubs, an alternative history where the Vikings didn't just find America they colonised it and introduced horses, leading to the Aztecs conquering part of Europe. It should be interesting but I'm finding it a bit of a chore, there's very little charecterisation and it tends to read like some of the duller history books we had at school (I loved history too). I've set myself a target of 30 pages a day. Otherwise I'm reading Night Trains by Andrew Martin about the demise of night trains (though since he wrote this in 2017 they're coming back in Europe). Some of it is wonderful, I'd really like to do the Nordstrom sleeper in Norway but he's got more knowledge than skills as a writer so it's worthy and interesting and misses out on being fascinating which it could so easily have been.
  2. Storygraph

    I had a quick look though it and was rather put off by glancing through the Reading the World challenge and seeing books listed as being of that country which weren't, Where the Crawdads Sing listed for Brazil and Murder on the Orient Express for Turkey for instance.
  3. Keeping your TBR under control

    I have to buy loads of books - there is an English bookshop in Bordeaux but it's small and by necessity expensive, there isn't an English library within 250 km and the nearest charity shops with English books are 150 km... There is a big charity booksale held twice a year which is good for stocking up on the thrillers my husband likes reading. So I trawl second hand sites, get anything that looks interesting and if a book comes up at a good price that looks reasonably interesting I get it. I know authors need royalties (I'm one myself) but I can only afford to buy a very few new. I agree though that sometimes the sheer quantity of books can seem oppressive but if I do a cull I rapidly find myself restlessly searching books sites for something to fill the gap. I often read more than one book at a time. If I've borrowed a book I only read it where I can keep it in absolutely pristine condition, so not at breakfast or in the bath. Ditto books with pictures don't go into the bathroom and when I'm tired I'll read something light that doesn't need too much concentration.
  4. France's reading 2022

    A Rising Man by Abir Mukharjee got the year off to a cracking start. Sam Wyndham, ex Scotland yard arrives in Calcutta in 1919, and has to deal with the murder of a prominent member of the British community almost immediately. It looks like the work of Indian terrorists yet Wyndham, assisted by his sergeant Surrender-not Bannerjee and Digby, an old India hand who is resentful at not getting the top job, has his doubts. It's a well written, fast moving story full of life and colour. I thoroughly enjoyed it and am looking forward to the next in the series.
  5. Print/Kobo 1. A Rising Man - Abir Mukherjee ++++1/2 2. Night Trains - Andrew Martin +++1/2 3. Find You First - Linwood Barclay ++++ 4. Civilisations - Laurent Binet 5. The Strays of Paris - Jane Smiley ++++1/2 Audio Books The Husband's Secret - Liane Moriaty +++ for story, top notch narrating Holidays on Ice - David Sedaris
  6. How clever are book authors?

    I don't think brains are necessarily a prerequisite for writing a good and thoughtful book. A mastery of language and the ability to put words together (whether or not it follows grammatical mores) definitely is. Writing is a craft that needs to be worked at and honed, just like somebody can't design a ballgown that will fit, flatter, be comfortable and suit the fabric without knowing about dressmaking and the properties of various materials. The other thing is to read, read, read. I wouldn't call discussing all sorts of subjects while the reader waits for something to happen clever, it's the literary equivalent of being a pub bore as far as I'm concerned (I haven't read Focault's Pendulum by the way!) Your Youtuber while probably being bright is also probably not reading every word of the books she reviews (ask yourself for a moment how the judges for the Booker manage to read all the books entered, they have to skim) and she may be writing her book in conjunction with someone else. Otherwise she could simply be very organised, if you set yourself to write 500 words a day you can complete an 80,000 word novel in under 6 months. Was Jane Austen super bright? Clever certainly and she came from a very literate family and she wrote and wrote. Dickens? Much of his writing was motivated by the need to make money, Dostoievski was another who was paid by the page. Dickens was also driven by social injustice. Was Emily Bronte brilliant or the owner of an incredible imagination (and another who wrote and wrote and wrote)? Lee Child may be a genius IQ wise for all I know but for me he's the perfect example of someone who is very slick and practiced at producing page turners, some of the plots have huge unliklinesses in them but it doesn't matter because he's so good at making the reader turn the page. That is clever.
  7. Pets - 2022

    These are Ingie and Dino, both rescues. Ingie was in a refuge for over 5 years after being removed from his owners for cruelty and was already 10 when we adopted him. We thought we'd give him a home for his last years, when he arrived in September 2020 he didn't know to wag his tail or move his ears in response when someone spoke to him. We've been unbelievably lucky because though he has a few issues he is very loving and affectionate. Since Desi died he's appointed himself chief comforter which involves spending a lot of time draped across my lap. Dino, on the right, is my daughter's and was thrown out of a car and left to fend for himself.
  8. Pets - 2022

    Not rubbish! And very characterful. No, that was Flynn who was most definitely a character! She has a paw of iron dressed up in some pretty speckled fur. I reckon you can be pretty sure that if you are invited to someone's home and get to meet the mother that the puppies are OK. They won't be from a puppy farm or imported illegally. I know a couple of breeders here in France and they are very careful about who their puppies go to and if for some reason the new owners decide to get rid of the dog will work their butts off to find the dog a new, decent home.
  9. Pets - 2022

    You're a really good photographer Hux! I love that picture, so full of essence of dog.
  10. Pets - 2022

    Sybil, now aged two but still just as opinionated, disapproving of my reading material.
  11. Isabel Allende's first book The House of the Spirits is featured on the last episode of Graham Norton's Book Club podcast and there's a really interesting interview with her. She sound like exactly the sort of person I'd love to meet! I know we still have a copy of The House of the Spirits, I'm going to dig it out and reread it.
  12. Pets - 2022

    We had a Dalmatian (almost as accomplished thieves as Labradors) who worked out how to open the bread bin by getting his nose under the handle and rolling it up.
  13. Pets - 2022

    Lily looks like quite a character. There's attitude there! Is she a beagle?
  14. France's reading 2021

    Last posting of the year! Small Pleasures - Clare Chambers. It's 1957 and Jean, 39, a journalist on the North Kent Echo who normally covers all the light womanly stories is sent to interview Gretchen, a young Swiss woman, who claims to have had a virgin birth. The more Jean investigates, the closer she becomes to the whole family, Gretchen, Getchen's daughter Margaret and her husband Howard and the more puzzled she is by Gretchen's story. There are many good things about this book and I loved the way some of Jean's other writing is included so we can see how banal her normal work usually is but the first half is really slow moving and the ending reads as if Clare Chambers wasn't sure how to bring it to a close so threw everything in (actually this isn't the case as is made clear in the epilogue but it still feels that way). The Girl in the Ice - Robert Bryndza. Fast moving, well written, wrecked by ridiculous ending with multiple things that just wouldn't happen (ie police officer taking a suspect's keys and letting themself into the suspect's house) and totally nonsensical tying up of loose ends - ie why is A doing business with ? It hasn't been mentioned earlier. Shame I was enjoying it up to that point.
  15. Have you tried Isabel Allende? Or Alice Hoffman. Both of them write about the real world but with magical elements, Hoffman verges on outright fantasy sometimes but Allende is firmly of this, albeit a slightly skewed, world.