Sunday, 6 June 2010

Book #38


Paris Tales translated by Helen Constantine


Paris Tales is a highly evocative collection of stories by French and Francophone writers who have been inspired by specific locations in this most visited of capital cities. The twenty-two stories - by well-known writers including Nerval, Maupassant, Colette, and Echenoz - provide a captivating glimpse into Parisian life from the mid-nineteenth century to the present day. The stories take us on an atmospheric tour of the arrondissements and quartiers of Paris, charting the changing nature of the city and its inhabitants, and viewing it through the eyes of characters such as the provincial lawyer's wife seeking excitement, a runaway schoolboy sleeping rough, and a lottery-winning policeman. From the artists' haunts of Montmartre to the glamorous caf├ęs of Saint-Germain, from the shouts of demonstrators on Boul Mich' to the tranquillity of Parc Monceau, Paris Tales offers a fascinating literary panorama of Paris.


I found this breathtaking. I'm not sure whether this was because of the writing (which was wonderful!) or because I am quite obsessed with the city of Paris, having lived there for a while and having fallen head over heels in love with it.

I love reading about the different parts of Paris and the kinds of people who live in them, and this was an excellent collection. Some of the stories I couldn't understand fully, and they were a bit too poetic for my tastes, but I really enjoyed the majority of them.

The photographs were also a highlight - I find pictures of Paris to be fantastic, and they give me such a longing sense of nostalgia that I find it quite difficult not to sit and gaze at them for ages. The metro map on the last page was also a treat - I found myself sitting tracing routes I'd taken many times and thinking about how lovely the city is.

A lovely light read - I'd definitely recommend it if you're a bit of a Paris romanticist like myself!


38 / 66 books. 58% done!

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