Lisa’s November Recommendation

The Beautiful American by Jeanne Mackin

“The Beautiful American, of course, is Lee Miller, a girl from Poughkeepsie, New York, who became a Vogue model, lover, mistress and protogé of the Surrealist photographer and artist Man Ray, friend of Picasso and numerous other Surrealist luminaries living in Paris in the ‘20s and ‘30s, and one of the most influential photographers of World War II. The narrator is Nora, Mackin’s creation, a parallel figure in Miller’s life whose own story carries the reader along through highs and lows of the artistic life, France under fascism into and through World War II,  and briefly into the second half of the Twentieth Century when the women cross paths a final time and their personal triumphs and fortunes are revealed.” – Summary by Michael Foldes of Ragazine

Similar Reads

The Chaperone by Laura Moriarty – Set in the 20’s in New York and has a fictional narrator who closely follows the life of real-life actress Louise Brooks before she made it big.

Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein – In 1943, a British fighter plane crashes in Nazi-occupied France and the survivor tells a tale of friendship, war, espionage, and great courage as she relates what she must to survive while keeping secret all that she can.

The German Woman by Paul Griner – This riveting war story introduces us to the beautiful Kate Zweig, the English widow of a German surgeon, and Claus Murphy, an exiled American with German roots—two lovers with complicated loyalties.


Lisa’s August Recommendations

What a treat! Lisa recommends a few books for us this month. Lisa’s reading tastes usually lean towards historical books and books set in other countries. Stop by RFPL and pick up a few books to read outside in this nice weather!


Embed from Getty Images

(available in print and ebook at RFPL)

 Lisa says: “thumbs up”


From the catalog: “Unwillingly rendered an object of obsession by the Kommandant occupying her small French town in World War I, Sophie risks everything to reunite with her husband a century before a widowed Liv tests her resolve to claim ownership of Sophie’s portrait.”

The Visitors by Sally Beauman

(available in print from RFPL)

Lisa says: “thumbs WAY up”


From the catalog: “Sent abroad to Egypt in 1922 to recover from the typhoid that has killed her mother, eleven-year-old Lucy becomes swept up in the feverish excitement surrounding the search for Tutankhamun’s tomb. Through her friendship with Frances, the daughter of an American archaeologist, Lucy witnesses first-hand the intrigue, politics, and passions surrounding this quest. Raised in a world in which adults are often cold and unpredictable, Lucy forms an immediate bond with Frances.”


The Vacationers by Emma Straub

(available in print, ebook, and audio CD from RFPL)

Lisa says: “thumbs up- mostly for the location and family interaction – not the specifics of the storyline”

Genna reviewed this book last month – check it out here!

Sue’s January Recommendation

Abundance, A Novel of Marie Antoinette by Sena Jeter Naslund. 

abundanceI borrowed a copy of this 2006 novel from a friend’s bookshelf a few weeks ago because Naslund’s Ahab’s Wife (2005) is one of my treasured reads. Every sentence in this book is poetic, graceful, and carefully constructed.  Although it is fiction, it’s clear that the author did her homework and based much of what she wrote on actual documentations and letters written by Marie Antoinette herself.  It tells the story, in a first-person narrative, of the ill-fated queen from the time she arrives in France until her death at the hands of the French Revolution years later.  This Marie Antoinette is regal and decisive, yet very isolated and completely naive.  Naslund creates a beautiful, sympathetic portrait of this much maligned, and perhaps misunderstood, historical figure.

3 Similar Reads

The Hidden Diary of Marie Antoinette by Carolly Erickson

Burning Bright by Tracy Chevalier

The Many Lives and Secret Sorrow of Josephine B by Sandra Gulland


Kimberly’s May Recommendation

Le Road Trip: A Traveler’s Journal of Love and France by Vivian Swift

“This is a very charming traveler’s journal that incorporates a personal story, interesting facts, wry observations, and wonderful drawings.  I read it cover to cover quickly and felt transported to France. It is also very browsable!  Pour a lovely glass of Bourdeaux and enjoy the journey.”

Read about it or request it from the library catalog!

3 Similar Reads (Nonfiction)

1) Paris In Love by Eloise James (Access to library catalog here)

2) Blossoming in Provence by Kristin Espinasse (Access to library catalog here)

3) French Lessons by Peter Mayle (Access to library catalog here)

3 Similar Reads (Fiction)

1) The Provence Cure for the Brokenhearted by Bridget Asher (Access to library catalog here)

2) French Lessons: A Novel by Ellen Sussman (Access to library catalog here)

3) Black Girl in Paris by Shay Youngblood (Access to library catalog here)

Mary Ann’s November Recommendation

The Invention of Hugo Cabret: A Novel in Words and Pictures by Brian Selznick

“I was excited to hear that Martin Scorsese made a movie based on this book.  I always read the book before seeing the film.  It’s an extraordinary book. There are 284 lush pencil illustrations that work with the text like a duet.  It’s a mystery and an adventure, with a bit of history added.  When you see the illustrations and see the plot develop, you’ll see why Scorsese was intrigued by adapting it to film.  In 2008, Selznick won the  Caldecott medal for this book, which is awarded ‘to the artist of the most distinguished American picture book for children.'”

Read about it or request it from the library catalog

Megan’s December Recommendation

The Many Lives and Secret Sorrows of Josephine B. by Sandra Gulland

“This book is the first in a trilogy following the life of Josephine B., Napoleon’s wife.  The book is fiction created from real events, and its written in a diary/letter format.  The book starts out with Josephine’s upbringing on the island of Martinique and follows her first marriage, move to Paris, and life during the French Revolution.  Very interesting read- you will want to put the second book on hold while reading the first one!”

Read About It

Request It

You can find this book in the library at Call # FICTION GULLAND

Claudia’s November Recommendation

Elegance of the HedgehogElegance of the Hedgehog by Muriel Barbery

This dark but redemptive novel shows the transformation of two tenants of a French apartment building.  A fifty four year old concierge;  cultured, intelligent, and philosophical,  scrutinizes the lives of the tenents she serves.  A twelve year old “supersmart” tenent is contemplating committing suicide on her thirteenth birthday.  They both hide their talents and finest qualities from the world until a new tenent moves into the building and brings them together.  The result is often humorous, heartbreakingly sad, and hopeful.

Read About It

Request It

You can find this book in the library at Call Number FICTION BARBERY in with the new books.