Go Back  Fodor's Travel Talk Forums > Destinations > Europe
Reload this Page >

Can anybody suggest some good historical novels about France to get me in the mood?

Can anybody suggest some good historical novels about France to get me in the mood?

Jul 26th, 2006, 08:00 PM
Join Date: Jul 2006
Posts: 171
Couldn't resist...great historical novels (Dickens my fave) but a girlie movie that would make me want to see France would be
"Until September"....Karen Allen stars in it and it was made in the 80's...a fun take on France..
Have a great trip!
ma23peas is offline  
Jul 26th, 2006, 09:43 PM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 2,719
How about Perfume, by Patrick Suskind? Set in 18th century France, full of evocative descriptions of the sights and smells of Paris and Grasse, among other places.

Also, much of The Eight, by Katherine Neville, is set in France during the revolution. It's a bit clumsy at times but on the whole it's a really fun read, full of action and mystery.

A similar style mystery which has been a huge bestseller is The Labyrinth by Kate Mosse, set in south west France during the middle ages.
hanl is offline  
Jul 27th, 2006, 12:23 AM
Join Date: Apr 2006
Posts: 16
Again, not fiction, but I just finished a new biography of Catherine de Medici that was fantastic. Very readable biography like Fraser's Marie Antoinette. Made me want to go visit all the chateaux again!
jemath2 is offline  
Jul 27th, 2006, 12:41 AM
Join Date: Feb 2003
Posts: 1,626
Kate Mosse' recent book, Labyrnthe, set in Carcassone and alternating between the 12th century and the present, is great.

F. Scott Fitzgerald, Tender is the Night, is a classic. It's not "about" France, but much of it is set on the French Riviera.

Alistair Horne's Seven Ages of Paris is a very readable history of Paris.

Irene Nemirovsky's recently translated pair of novels, Suite Francaise, paints a picture of France during the Second World War. She had planned to write a 5-part work, but was deported to Auschwitz before she could complete the series and polish the drafts. The novels were discovered relatively recently and were published to great acclaim in France. The first book is set during the exodus from Paris near the beginning of the war, while the second is set in 1941 in a village that has been occupied by German forces.
Kate_W is offline  
Jul 27th, 2006, 04:12 AM
Join Date: Jan 2004
Posts: 217
If you will be going to Normandy, Band of Brothers and Alison Weir's Eleanor of Aquitaine would be my picks. Provence area would have another list of books. So much history for such a small country. Have fun!
herself is offline  
Jul 27th, 2006, 04:39 AM
Join Date: Jul 2006
Posts: 105
"Almost French: Love and new Life in Paris" is a memoir of an Australian woman (I think she is a journalist) who married a Frenchman. Goes into great detail of her adjustments to life in Paris. It is a interesting read. Not a historical book but still gives a good idea of the French culture.

I also just bought Suite francaise, and can't wait to dig into that one was well.
Travelbug13 is offline  
Jul 27th, 2006, 05:53 AM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 22
Recently finished "My Life on France" by Julia Child and I highly reccomend this delicious memoir!
Bobbi is offline  
Jul 27th, 2006, 05:57 AM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 22
Ok, I guess it's too early for me . . . That would be "My Life IN France" and it is highly RECOMMENDED!
Bobbi is offline  
Jul 27th, 2006, 10:36 AM
Original Poster
Join Date: Jun 2006
Posts: 41
I can't believe some of the responses I have gotten from you!!! Such interesting books... and diverse topics.. You guys are just great!

I will be in Paris for 5 days In October, then the Loire Valley for 4 days. I WILL be visiting Versailles.

Irish Eyes you have sent me on a mission. I have to find the Angelique series somewhere.
gchizz1 is offline  
Jul 27th, 2006, 12:55 PM
Join Date: Jun 2004
Posts: 1,216
If you are visiting Versailles & Paris you definitely want to read the Angelique series. Many of the books are set there. They are full of court intrigue, colorful characters, wonderful descriptions, murder, war, love affairs, deceipt, true love, etc. If they are out of print try Alibris.com or the library.

IrishEyes is offline  
Jul 27th, 2006, 02:07 PM
Join Date: Dec 2003
Posts: 20,695
Wow--other fans of the Angelique series, and of Rumer Godden (I absolutely love The Greengage Summer) and Mary Stewart! And of Perfume, too. What a great group of people on this thread.
Underhill is offline  
Jul 27th, 2006, 02:16 PM
Join Date: Oct 2003
Posts: 997
The Judgment of Paris by Ross King. A bit long, but very interesting if you are into Impressionism.
Tries2PakLite is offline  
Jul 27th, 2006, 03:45 PM
Join Date: Jul 2005
Posts: 10
I think the only book that I've liked that hasn't been mentioned is the Virgin Blue, by Tracy Chevalier (the author of Girl with a Pearl Earring.) I enjoyed Labrynthe as well, and have read pretty much all the works of Phillipa Gregory and Alison Weir. Jean Plaidy is another historical writer that you might want to check out.
dc0121 is offline  
Jul 27th, 2006, 04:02 PM
Join Date: Feb 2005
Posts: 203
I'll give a second nod to My Life in France. Great read!

Frankly, I enjoyed Paris to the Moon.

Also, I am currently reading The Essence of Style (How the French Invented high Fashion, Fine Food, Chic Cafes, Style, Sophistication and Glamour) by Joan de Jean. It illustrates how Louis XIV's court basically redefined France and set forward all the above ideas and more. It's non-fiction, historical, a bit academic at times but a fascinating read.
lp_nyc is offline  
Jul 27th, 2006, 06:20 PM
Join Date: Apr 2003
Posts: 422
gchizz1: I have the paperback editions of the Angelique series, books one through eight. Collected them one by one on eBay.

I would be happy to send you the first three to get you started. You can return them when you're finished. The postage shouldn't be much.

If you are interested, let me know. The mailing address you provide needn't be your home if security is a concern.

Croque_Madame is offline  
Jul 27th, 2006, 06:35 PM
Join Date: Sep 2003
Posts: 570
Charlotte Gray
by Sebastian Faulks is a good read. The back cover includes the following review: "This riveting account of a young Scotswoman's odyssey through wartime London, and on into a perilous secret mission in Vichy France, deserve the hightest praise."
mkdiebold is offline  
Jul 27th, 2006, 06:54 PM
Join Date: May 2004
Posts: 474
Is Paris Burning? (Collins and Lapierre). Marcel Pagnol's Jean de Florette; and Manon of the Spring. The latter two set in Provence. Depressing but riveting. For the flavor of Paris between the wars, see if you can find Paris was Yesterday, a compilation of articles in the New Yorker. Long out of print, but I have seen it in bookstores.
vedette is offline  
Jul 27th, 2006, 07:13 PM
Join Date: Feb 2004
Posts: 14,689
How about two by Nancy Mitford? I loved Don't Tell Alfred, but I guess it isn't really historical. However, her Madame du Pompador (sp?) isn't a novel, but certainly historical. I love the way she wrote.
tuscanlifeedit is online now  
Jul 27th, 2006, 07:13 PM
Join Date: Apr 2003
Posts: 422
Hey, I also have the DVD set of every New Yorker that was published from 1925 to 2005. (What can I say, I like the New Yorker.)

Now, if I could only figure out what is wrong with my printer, I could do an archive search on the DVD's , then print out those articles for gchizz1. Stick them in the packet with the books.

That is...if I can fix the printer. Sigh...No wonder I like books so much. They always work.
Croque_Madame is offline  
Jul 28th, 2006, 05:55 PM
Join Date: Dec 2003
Posts: 20,695
How about Jon Lanchester's off-beat "The Debt to Pleasure," a cookbook that...well, I won't spoil it for you, but it's fiction by one of the food critics of the London Times. Absolutely delicious.

For historical fiction, "The Spider King."
Underhill is offline  

Thread Tools
Search this Thread

Contact Us - Archive - Advertising - Cookie Policy -


All times are GMT -8. The time now is 02:53 AM.