Books released in France – The 20 minute review

At home in the Pays d’Oc

Patricia Feinberg Stoner,



ISBN: 9780995746206

At Home in the Pays d’Oc, the first of two autobiographical books about moving to France, is a seductive account of a British couple with a second home in Languedoc who adopt a cute dog and end up staying in France. There’s a bit that reminds me of the beginning of ‘Lady and the Tramp’:

“They have no intention of keeping her. ‘Just for tonight,’ says Patrick. ‘We’ll take her to the shelter tomorrow.’ It never happens. They spend the weekend getting to know and loving the little creature, who looks at them sympathetically with big brown eyes and wags their absurd stump tail every time they speak.” Although it turns out the adorable pooch is more lost than homeless , they manage to adopt it and after that there is no going back.

Patricia Feinberg Stoner’s writing style is upbeat and talkative. Reading the book feels like spending one of those very long evenings with a best friend once you’ve decided a second bottle is inevitable and you’ve ordered extra olives.

There’s not really a plot to speak of – it’s really a series of amusing anecdotes and insights into the process of moving to France. And therein lies the charm, just read on and enjoy the journey.

Did you want to buy a destroyed house? No, but they did it anyway. Did they know that it would take years and limbs to straighten up? Dito.

Anarchic neighbors, administrative problems, scorpions and sunshine…tick, tick, tick

Blaise Cendrars, The Invention of Life

eric robertson,

reaction books,


ISBN: 9781789145205

This well-researched look at the life and work of Blaise Cendrars is a fascinating glimpse into the first half of the 20th century, where you’ll meet a host of famous and notorious figures.

Blaise Cendrars (1887 – 1961), was born in Switzerland and became a naturalized French citizen in 1916. Known for his novels and epic poetry, he was at the center of modernism, mingling with the likes of Modigliani, Picasso, Sonia Delaunay and Hemingway.

Reading this book is like meeting an extraordinary new friend; Cendrars had an amazing appetite for life. He loved to travel, loved new ideas, new ways of expressing human experience. In 1915 he lost his right arm in World War I, a tragedy he wrote about in The Left Handed Poet, The Bloody Hand and The Severed Hand. Its output was productive; he also wrote essays, plays and translated.

He was an important part of the artistic community in Montparnasse and was friends with Henry Miller, who described him as his “great idol”. With his first wife, Féla Poznańska, he had two boys and a girl. During World War II, the Gestapo destroyed some of his manuscripts, but he fled to Provence to avoid arrest. His older son died during the war.

The author crunches the facts at a speed that makes this book an easy start. (Skip the introduction and dive right in. You can always come back to it once you’ve finished the book.)


Michael Livingston,



ISBN: 978-1472847058

The Battle of Crecy took place in 1346 during the Hundred Years’ War between the armies of King Edward III. and King Philip VI. and is widely believed to be the reason the English conquered Calais, which they held until 1558. Today the battlefield is something of a tourist attraction, but in this book author Michael Livingston says people are visiting the wrong place.

The book is both a living and, dare I say it, blow-by-blow account of the battle and how meticulously researched it was. Modern historians have used archival manuscripts, satellites, and traditional fieldwork to trace the true scene of the battle. It’s a fascinating read that will particularly resonate with anyone who has tried to separate the true information from the fakes.

An engaging read for military history fans, but also fascinating for history buffs and anyone who enjoys a good detective story. It might also inspire readers to explore some of the places described. Readable and informative, this is an academic book that you will race through as if it were adventure fiction.

For more literary inspiration, visit the ‘Novels set in France’ Facebook group.

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