Death a l’ Orange

From e p
Title:  Death a l’ Orange
Author:  Nancy Fairbanks
Carolyn Blue, her son, husband, and some of his faculty colleagues take a tour to France.  A few of these colleagues are competing for a deanship vacancy at the University.  Carolyn, on the other hand, is there to enjoy the sights and focus on her job as a food writer.  Unfortunately, illness and accidents plague the group.  Who is responsible?  Can Carolyn figure that out before someone is killed?  A fast summer read.

Cave of forgotten dreams [videorecording DVD]

From Eileen Effrat
Author:  Werner  Herzog
Cave of forgotten dreams [videorecording DVD]
This exceptional documentary takes   viewers into a 30,000 year old Paleolithic cave. Discovered in 1994, Chauvet Cave in southern France is closed to the public. Only a limited number of scientists are permitted inside. This was a real “coup d’etat”  for Herzog and his film crew to gain entrance.  In extraordinary  3D imaging,  amazing drawings of bison, aurochs, rhinos, musk ox,  cave bears, ibex, horses, and  mammoths, come to life  on the cave walls.  Beautiful   stalagmites   rise from the cave floor and fossilized animal prints  abound.  In one chamber human handprints in red ochre are found on the cave walls.  If you are as memorized as me by the beauty and archaeological significance of Chauvet, the library owns Chauvet Cave:  The Art of Earliest Times,   beautifully illustrated book published  in 2003.

Sleeping With The Enemy: Coco Chanel’s Secret War

From Eileen Effrat
Author:  Hal Vaughan
Sleeping  With The Enemy:  Coco Chanel’s Secret War
Much has been written about Coco Chanel, but Vaughan’s book covers new ground focusing on her wartime activities in Nazi occupied Paris.  Drawing on newly released American, German, French, and British wartime documents, Vaughn reveals   Chanel as a willing Nazi collaborator and German Abwehr  Special Agent F-71234 –code name  Westminister.  Despite these activities, when over 40,000 French collaborators were executed after the war,   she escapes arrest thanks to powerful friends like Winston Churchill  and systematically paying off people who might have revealed her true wartime activities. Past glossed over, she returns to France in 1954 to rebuild the House of Chanel  and  to reinvent herself.  She may have revolutionized women’s fashion, but she was a nasty piece of work.  Always the opportunist, what  Chanel wanted, Chanel got.

The Greater Journey : Americans in Paris

From Ellen Druda
Author:  David McCullough
The Greater Journey : Americans in Paris
“Not all pioneers went west.”  McCullough looks at Paris in the 19th century as the other destiny for Americans as they looked to expand their horizons as a new nation.  Starting in 1830, we watch the prominent citizens come and go: Samuel Morse, James Fennimore Cooper, Oliver Wendell Holmes, Henry James, Harriet Beecher Stowe, Mary Cassatt, John Singer Sargent, Mark Twain, P.T. Barnum, and many more make their way there for short or extended stays.  We see the beautiful City of Lights blossom into a metropolis filled with beautiful architecture, large fragrant gardens, and cosmopolitan citizens of the highest taste in fashion and the arts.  We are witness, via the unforgettable diary entries of diplomat Elihu Washburne, the Franco-Prussian war and the long siege of Paris.The book ends with the Universelle Paris Exposition of 1900 as the new century begins, noting the changes just around the corner with the exhibited paintings of the teenage Pablo Picasso.

Death in the City of Light: The Serial Killer of Nazi-Occupied Paris

From Eileen Effrat
Author:  David King
Death in the City of Light:    The Serial Killer of Nazi-Occupied Paris
If you were mesmerized by Eric Larson’s  Devil in the White City,  try this meticulously researched and  very readable account of Marcel Petiot, a Parisian doctor accused and convicted of brutally murdering  at least  twenty-seven people between 1941- 1944. War time Paris was in pandemonium, as the German Gestapo, French Gestapo, gangsters and   resistance fighters vied for power and indiscriminately killed.   For Commissaire George-Victor Massau, the  investigating police  officer  for the case, this was a political minefield.  Anyone of those factions could be involved. The trial in 1946 was a circus as it attempted to try all 27 cases at once.   Although convicted and sentenced to death, many questions were never answered   and still remain a mystery. Was Petiot allied with the Gestapo or the French resistance?  Or  neither?  How did he initially kill his victims?  This is a true crime story that vividly describes Paris in the Second World War.

The Invisible Bridge

From Judy Schroback
author: Orringer, Julie
The Invisible Bridge
 This book takes place during World War 2 and follows the lives of several characters.  It specifically focuses on Hungary  and how badly damaged it was during the war.  This author does a great job getting us to feel the characters and their constant conflicts.  While trying to live somewhat normal lives in their beloved Hungary or partly in France, we are with them every step of the way.  The brutality to the Jews is also written with so much heart that you can only wish the outcomes were different.  I loved this book.

The Count of Monte Cristo

From Rebecca Segers
author: Dumas, Alexandre
The Count of Monte Cristo
Edmond Dantes has it all: youth, love, and career mobility.  But a jealous rival for his job and another for his fiance falsely accuse him of Bonapartism and a judge looking out for his own interests seals the deal, sending Dantes to the prison Chateau d’If.  There he struggles in solitary for years, until he meets the Abbe Faria, who teaches him and opens his heart to the power of human friendship.  They plan their joint escape, but Faria dies before it is able to be effected, thus leaving Dantes alone again – but this time with the knowledge of the whereabouts of a great hidden treasure.  Dantes escapes, claims the fortune and remakes himself as the Count of Monte Cristo, with the sole purpose of avenging his false imprisonment by ruining the men who put him there.  He does manage his aim, but along the way, also discovers that revenge is not a suitable reason for living. He is redeemed by the love he had for his former fiance, the love he still has for the family who remained true, and the love he begins to have for a woman in his current life.  This novel, published in 1844, is still just as entertaining as it was the day it came out, a page-turner for anyone looking for an adventure that takes them into the devastation of prison life, the glamorous world of 19th century Paris or the unmapped territory of the human heart.

My life in France

From Charlene Muhr
author: Child, Julia
My life in France
After I watched the movie Julie and Julia, i wanted to know more about Julia Child, so I read My Life in France.  The idea for this book began in 1969, when Paul Child suggested that Julia write a book from the hundreds of letters that they both wrote to Charles Child (Paul’s twin brother) about their years in France.  On November 3, 1948, Paul and Julia arrived at Le Havre, France, aboard the SS America.  Paul would be running the exhibits office for the U.S. Informative Service at the American Embassy in Paris.  Julia couldn’t speak the language, even though she had studied French in school, knew little about the culture, and even less about French cooking.  But Julia was determined to learn about her new home and she came to love it and its people.  She shopped at local markets, became friendly with the merchants, and attempted to learn French cooking from an old fashioned cookbook.  Julia thought she had enrolled in a six-week intensive course at Ecole du Cordon Bleu but she had actually signed up for a year-long Annee Scolaire for $450.  It was here, through the guidance of Chef Bugnard, that Julia fell in love with French food and French cooking. Throughout the book, we learn about Julia’s many accomplishments, from her teaching, her famous cookbook, Mastering the Art of French Cooking, her television show, and her role in bringing classic French cuisine to the American audience.

The Blood of Lorraine

From Rosemarie Jerome
author: Pope, Barbara Corrado
The Blood of Lorraine
It is France, 1894.  The Alfred Dreyfus trial is causing anger and unrest throughout the country.  Anti-Semitism is rampant.  A Christian baby is found mutilated.  Magistrate Bernard Martin must find the killer before the entire town riots.  When two Jews are killed, is he searching for a serial killer or two separate killers?  Are the cases linked or is a coincidence?  Martin is pressured by his superiors to quickly solve these cases.  He wants to solve them before more victims are discovered.  It is a race against time, as Martin unearths truths about himself and the racism that has been lurking below the surface in his community.  Tragedy strikes his family and brings Martin to the breaking point, as it slowly drives his wife insane.  It is an intriguing time period, with a main character that you could relate to.  The interaction between Martin and his sidekick, Inspector Jacquette, adds some comic relief to an otherwise grim historical mystery.

The road of lost innocence

From Jackie Cantwell
author: Mam, Somaly
The road of lost innocence
 This is the true story of a Cambodian woman who was sold into prostitution at the age of sixteen.  Somaly was abandoned by her birth parents when she was about five years old. A neighbor in her northeastern Cambodian village of Bou Sra took her in. She is Phnong., which is a tribe of mountain people. The poverty and primitivity she describes in her youth is almost beyond belief. She doesn’t know when she was born; she thinks it’s 1970 or 1971.  The Khmer Rouge regime of 1975-1979 was responsible for the deaths of about 20% of the population of Cambodia.  The Khmer seem to have also robbed the Cambodians of their culture and their spirit. Somaly describes with sickening detail her daily beatings and rapes.  The specifics are so shocking, I cannot describe them here. She doesn’t mention the word “torture”, but I believe she was tortured as well.  Her narrative doesn’t beg for us to pity her. She tells her story as an example of all the other girls sold into sexu  al slavery. She says that her experience was almost nothing (!) compared to the experience of those today. Virgins are especially prized ; girls of 5 or 6 years old are sold and raped repeatedly. The beatings today are even worse. She says that judges can’t be bribed in Cambodia; they’ve already been bought. The men who should be maintaining the law: the military, the police and the judges, are also customers of the brothels.  Even “humanitarian aid workers” use prostitutes! These sex traffickers make the mafia look like boy scouts.  She argues that the only way to stop it is for the international community to take notice and to bring the ringleaders to justice.   Today she runs an organization called AFESIP that rescues children from sexual slavery and provides housing, schooling and vocational training.  One would have to have a heart of stone not to be moved by her account.