Book review: The 6:41 to Paris by Jean-Philippe Blondel

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The 6:41 to Paris

(fiction)

 Release date: November 10, 2015
at New Vessel Press

153  pages

ISBN: 978-1939931269

Website | Goodreads

SYNOPSIS

Cecile, a stylish 47-year-old, has spent the weekend visiting her parents in a provincial town southeast of Paris. By early Monday morning, she’s exhausted. These trips back home are always stressful and she settles into a train compartment with an empty seat beside her. But it’s soon occupied by a man she instantly recognizes: Philippe Leduc, with whom she had a passionate affair that ended in her brutal humiliation 30 years ago. In the fraught hour and a half that ensues, their express train hurtles towards the French capital. Cécile and Philippe undertake their own face to face journey—In silence? What could they possibly say to one another?—with the reader gaining entrée to the most private of thoughts. This is a brilliant psychological thriller, a high-wire act of emotions on rails, about past romance, with all its pain and promise. [provided by the publisher]

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

portrait de Jean-philippe Blondel
portrait de Jean-philippe Blondel

Jean-Philippe Blondel
was born in 1964 in Troyes, France

where he lives as an author and English teacher.
His novel The 6:41 to Paris
has been a bestseller in both France and Germany.

ABOUT THE TRANSLATOR

Alison Anderson is a novelist and translator of literature from French. Among the authors she has translated are JMG Le Clézio, Christian Bobin, Muriel Barbery and Amélie Nothomb. She has lived in Northern California and currently lives in a village in Switzerland.
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Review:

“I’m talking to you and you can’t hear me.  

Thirty minutes to dive in, into the flotsam of the years gone by, and hope to find a piece of wood, a roof, a boat adrift – to start everything over again.”.

The 6:41 to Paris is a glimpse into the private musings of two people unexpectedly seated together on the same train.  Two persons who, 27 years previous, parted in pain.  Each agonizes over past memories, mistakes,  family problems and and contemplate their possible futures.  

This book, originally written in French, was translated into English by Alison Anderson.  It was incredibly well done.   The dual musings blended back and forth smoothly between Cecile and Philippe, one picking up where the other left off.  Their story begins to take shape as their train rolled on toward Paris, their final destination.  

There were many gentle and amusing anectdotes and reflections which I found to be beautifully written.   For example:

“There comes an age when you find yourself trapped between indifferent children and recalcitrant parents.  That’s all there is to it.  I’m forty-seven years old.  I’m right in the middle of it.”

A pleasant and easy read (perfect for a trip!).  You’ll want to pass this this story on to someone else to enjoy as well.

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Book review: Sisters of Versailles by Sally Christie

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The Sisters of Versailles

(historical fiction)

Release date: September 1, 2015
at Atria Book/Simon & Schuster

432  pages

ISBN: 978-1501102967

Website | Goodreads

SYNOPSIS

A sumptuous and sensual tale of power, romance, family, and betrayal centered around four sisters and one King. Carefully researched and ornately detailed, The Sisters of Versailles is the first book in an exciting new historical fiction trilogy about King Louis XV, France’s most “well-beloved” monarch, and the women who shared his heart and his bed.

Set against the lavish backdrop of the French Court in the early years of the 18th century, The Sisters of Versailles is the extraordinary tale of the five Nesle sisters—Louise, Pauline, Diane, Hortense, and Marie-Anne—four of whom became mistresses to King Louis XV. Their scandalous story is stranger than fiction but true in every shocking, amusing, and heartbreaking detail.

Court intriguers are beginning to sense that young King Louis XV, after seven years of marriage, is tiring of his Polish wife. The race is on to find a mistress for the royal bed as various factions put their best feet—and women—forward. The King’s scheming ministers push Louise, the eldest of the aristocratic Nesle sisters, into the arms of the King. Over the following decade, she and her sisters—ambitious Pauline; complacent Diane, and cunning Marie Anne—will conspire, betray, suffer, and triumph in a desperate fight for both love and power.

The Sisters of Versailles is a treat through and through – the characters are witty and engaging and come together to create an undeniable page-turner. Sally Christie has a wonderful sense of pace and the book unfolds in front of you like a delicious gift. Even as the scandals pile up and the intrigue mounts, you can’t help but fall in love with these sisters and their competing infatuations with the King.

In the tradition of The Other Boleyn Girl, The Sisters of Versailles is a clever, intelligent, and absorbing novel that historical fiction fans will devour. Based on meticulous research on a group of women never before written about in English, Sally Christie’s stunning debut is a complex exploration of power and sisterhood—of the admiration, competition, and even hatred that can coexist within a family when the stakes are high enough.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

unnamed-5Sally Christie was born in England of British parents and grew up around the world, attending eight schools in three languages. She spent most of her career working in international development and is currently settled in Toronto.
A life-long history buff who wishes time travel were a real possibility—she’d be off to the eighteenth century in a flash!
The Sisters of Versailles is her first novel.

Learn more about the sisters and the mistresses in the Versailles trilogy on her website.  Become a fan to hear about her next novels!   Check her Pinterest page

Follow Simon & Schuster on Twitter and Facebook

Buy the book | on Amazon  |  Barnes & Noble   | Books-a-Million  | IndieBound

REVIEW:

Madame de Pompadour comes to mind when we think of Louis XV. She was his official chief mistress, aide and advisor in governmental matters. What is little known is that, prior to her arrival on the scene, a family of four daughters, the Nesle de Maille sisters, played a role in the life of Louis le bien aimé’s Court at Versailles.

These four very different, uneducated women, daughters of an impoverished nobleman one by one end up at the glittering court of Versailles, a hotbed of jealousy, intrigue and scandal. The story is narrated by each of the sisters so we get a glimpse into their individual personalites through the letters written to each other. What I enjoyed about the story is the unpredictability of their actions at Versailles, despite being privy to their innermost thoughts throughout the storyline.

As a lover of European history, I enjoy reading the work of authors such as Alison Weir, Sandra Gulland and Philippa Gregory, amongst others. I would consider this novel to be “light” historical fiction because the story revolved more around the “romantic” lives of these five women and less about the historical events of the time. I was unable to develop an affinity for any of the women in this book, perhaps due to the lack of character development.

I was dismayed by the use of the “F-word” in several places. I really did not think that this was historically appropriate or necessary for this type of book. Because of the mature situations, I would consider this book to be PG-13 + M.

Despite its 417 pages, I consider Christie’s book to be a pleasant, light read.

 

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Book review: Quicksand by Gigi Pandian

Author Gigi Pandian

Quicksand-final-coverQuicksand:
A Jaya Jones Treasure Hunt Mystery

(cozy mystery)

Release date: March 10, 2015
at Henery Press
280 pages

ISBN: 9781941962275

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SYNOPSIS

A thousand-year-old secret room. A sultan’s stolen treasure. A missing French priest. And an invitation to Paris to rekindle an old flame!

Historian Jaya Jones finds herself on the wrong side of the law during an art heist at the Louvre. To redeem herself, she follows clues from an illuminated manuscript that lead from the cobblestone streets of Paris to the quicksand-surrounded fortress of Mont Saint-Michel. With the help of enigmatic Lane Peters and a 90-year-old stage magician, Jaya delves into Franceís colonial past in India to clear her name and catch a killer.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

 Gigi PandianUSA Today bestselling author Gigi Pandian
is the child of cultural anthropologists from New Mexico
and the southern tip of India.
After being dragged around the world during her childhood,
she tried to escape her fate when she left a PhD program for art school.
But adventurous academics wouldnít stay out of her head.
Thus was born the Jaya Jones Treasure Hunt Mystery Series
(Artifact, Pirate Vishnu, and Quicksand).
Gigi’s debut mystery novel was awarded a Malice Domestic Grant
and named a ìBest of 2012 Debut Novel by Suspense Magazine.
Her short fiction has been short-listed for Agatha and Macavity awards,
and she also writes the new Accidental Alchemist mystery series.
She takes photos of gargoyles wherever she goes, and posts them on her Gargoyle Girl blog.

Visit her website. Follow her on Facebook, Twitter

Subscribe to her newsletter

Visit her Gargoyle photography blog: http://www.gargoylegirl.com

Buy the book: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Kobo | Itunes | Google Play

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You can enter the global giveaway here
or on any other book blogs participating in this tour.
Be sure to follow each participant on Twitter/Facebook,
they are listed in the entry form below
.

Entry-Form

Visit each blogger on the tour:
tweeting about the giveaway everyday
of the Tour will give you 5 extra entries each time!
[just follow the directions on the entry-form]

Global giveaway open internationally:
1 winner will receive a print copy of the 3 books in the

Jaya Jones Treasure Hunt Mysteries Series

plus a beautiful set of recipe cards matching the 3 books!
Yes, you got that right:
1 winner will win the 3 books + recipe cards!

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CLICK ON THE BANNER
TO READ OTHER REVIEWS, GUEST-POST, INTERVIEW

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Review:

This is the first book I’ve read by Gigi Pandian and found it to be so much fun! It is #3 in the Jaya Jones Treasure Hunt Mystery but can easily be read as a stand-alone. I plan to go back and read the first two novels in the series.

Jaya Jones receives a mysterious letter and airline ticket to Paris from a former love interest who she hasn’t heard from in months.  She is torn between her new teaching assignment and pursuing the mystery of the French occupation in India.  What she doesn’t expect is the danger that awaits her!

It was a fast-paced Indiana-Jones style story that kept me glued to the pages. It’s a clean cozy mystery with plenty of excitement, romance and intriguing characters. I love history, especially anything about India and France and found the subject to be interesting and educational. I really liked Jaya’s character as a historian (I like smart female leads). The writing style was friendly and personal and I could really relate with what Jaya was thinking. Plenty of plot twists keep you interested until the end of the book.

This series would make a great TV series!