So we got to Paris.
But that’s not what I’m going to write about. This’ll be the first, but probably not the last, book recommendation on this blog.
When going anywhere for leisure, I like to track down a book set there. It really does something for me: to be in a place – both in my imagination and for real. Does that make sense? Well, it does for me. I have fond memories of reading Graham Greene in Monaco, for example, within a stone’s throw from the casinos he so vividly described. This time I did better: a teenage romance set in Paris for the girls, a crime novel for the husband, a middle grade French mystery for the boy. And me? I went with that amazing thing – a bookseller’s recommendation. I tell you, we ignore them at our peril!
So I found myself snuggling up with The Elegance of the Hedgehog by Muriel Barbery; a wonderful dual narrator slice of Parisian life, told from the point of view of a 54-year old widow and a 12-year old girl. It’s distinctive storytelling, ringing with French speech patterns and bringing to life what I saw as I walked through the Parisian neighbourhoods it described.
In it, I found an interesting quote describing the process of reading as the narrator recalls watching older children devour books at school:
“Sinking deeper into silence, they were able to draw from the dead paper something that seemed alive.”
Now, writers and readers, that’s something worth being part of.