Review of Too Close to the Edge by Pascal Garnier, Emily Boyce (Translation)

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About Too Close to the Edge

Recently widowed grandmother Éliette is returning to her house in the mountains when her car breaks down. A stranger offers help and Éliette gives him a lift, glad of the company and interruption to her routine.

A tale of retirement and calm domesticity, with a hint of menace about to explode.

My Review

With each turn of the page the story becomes darker and darker. Éliette certainly blossoms from mild mannered mature woman to a stealth bad girl before our very eyes. Her quiet, lonesome life dives headfirst into sheer mayhem. Lots of humor peppering the narrative with precision timing. Secondary characters along with subplots enhance the foreboding impending events. Another prize from Garnier. The ending was fantastic. Once again translation is excellent, kudos to Emily Boyce.

About Pascal Garnierimage

Pascal Garnier, who died in March 2010, was a talented novelist, short story writer, children’s author and painter. From his home in the mountains of the Ardèche, he wrote fiction in a noir palette with a cast of characters drawn from ordinary provincial life. Though his writing is often very dark in tone, it sparkles with quirkily beautiful imagery and dry wit. Garnier’s work has been likened to the great thriller writer, Georges Simenon. Read an article by Pascal Garnier, describing his path to becoming a writer.

Published April 1st 2016 by Gallic Books (first published June 7th 2010)

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Review of That’s Paris: An Anthology of Life, Love and Sarcasm in the City of Light

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About That’s Paris

If you’ve ever traveled to Paris or dreamed of setting foot on its cobblestone streets, you’ll enjoy escaping into this collection of short stories about France’s famed capital. From culinary treats (and catastrophes) to swoon-worthy romantic encounters (and heartbreaking mishaps), this anthology takes you on a journey through one of the most beautiful cities in the world.

Visit this cosmopolitan metropolis through the eyes of Parisians, francophiles and travelers who fell in love with the city and still hold a piece of it in their hearts. That’s Paris: a glimpse into living, loving and laughing in the City of Light.

My Review

Lovely collection of short stories. Just about everything is covered, from love, heartbreak, cuisine, to dealing with bureaucracy and much more all set in vibrant Paris.

As a self-proclaimed Francophile I thoroughly enjoyed the variety and the unmistakable Paris vibe of each story, knowing the setting is Paris is intoxicating enough for this reader. There is something magical and seductive regarding Paris albeit in person or on paper, I was mesmerized from the start.

Every story was interesting and brought its individuality to the table. The unique writing style of the authors along with their varied perspectives added layers of interest. A story catching me off guard Half past Midnight by Didier Quémener, memorable, haunting.

Short story fans, Francophiles will undoubtedly appreciate this well crafted collection.

About the Authors

That’s Paris is a collection of fiction and non-fiction stories from people who have traveled to Paris, lived in Paris or never even set foot in Paris but dreamed about what it would be like to visit. Among our contributors are: the author of three fashion books, the writer of a recently released book on Rwanda, Amazon best-selling authors, journalists, a personal chef and winners of various blogging awards. That’s Paris features new talent as well as established writers, but everyone has one thing in common—their stories capture the essence of what it’s like to breathe Parisian air.

Check out the full list of contributors and their bios.

Foreword by: Stephen Clarke

Authors: Michael Attard, Audrey M. Chapuis, Adria J. Cimino, Sarah del Rio, DryChick, Leslie Floyd, Jennie Goutet, Amy Lynne Hayes, April Lily Heise, Vicki Lesage, Elle Marie, Cheryl McAlister, Emily Monaco, Lucia Paul, Didier Quémener, Laura Schalk, Brooke Takhar, Marie Vareille, Frédérique Veysset, Lisa Webb, Anna Weeks, April Weeks, David Whitehouse

Author proceeds from sales of That’s Paris benefit the charity Room to Read, which supports literacy and gender equality in education. Thanks for supporting the cause!

Published January 20th 2015 by Velvet Morning Press

Review of The Panda Theory by Pascal Garnier, Svein Clouston (Translator)

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About The Panda Theory

Gabriel is a stranger in a small Breton town. Nobody knows where he came from or why he’s here. Yet his small acts of kindness, and exceptional cooking, quickly earn him acceptance from the locals.

His new friends grow fond of Gabriel, who seems as reserved and benign as the toy panda he wins at the funfair.

But unlike Gabriel, the fluffy toy is not haunted by his past . . .

My Review

A huge Garnier fan I found this book satisfying but the ending left me ambivalent.

Gabriel isn’t as he seems as the story unfolds. His flashbacks are startling. Each revisit of his past is darker and darker. The story is somewhat predictable but the peppering of dark humor and its noir feel compensate for the obvious. I enjoyed the character development of Gabriel, his layers carefully unfold. The secondary characters were entertaining both in personality and issues.

What was leading to the end I somewhat expected but the actual ending caught me off guard – not unsatisfied or satisfied more indifferent.

Another enjoyable piece of literary noir from the talented Pascal Garnier.

About Pascal Garnierimage

Pascal Garnier, who died in March 2010, was a talented novelist, short story writer, children’s author and painter. From his home in the mountains of the Ardèche, he wrote fiction in a noir palette with a cast of characters drawn from ordinary provincial life. Though his writing is often very dark in tone, it sparkles with quirkily beautiful imagery and dry wit. Garnier’s work has been likened to the great thriller writer, Georges Simenon. Read an article by Pascal Garnier, describing his path to becoming a writer.

Published March 26th 2012 by Gallic Books (first published February 4th 2008)

Review: How’s the Pain? by Pascal Garnier, Emily Boyce (Translator)

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About How’s the Pain?

Death is Simon’s business. And now the ageing vermin exterminator is preparing to die. But he still has one last job down on the coast and he needs a driver.

Bernard is twenty-one. He can drive and he’s never seen the sea. He can’t pass up the chance to chauffeur for Simon, whatever his mother may say.

As the unlikely pair set off on their journey, Bernard soon finds that Simon’s definition of vermin is broader than he’d expected…

Veering from the hilarious to the horrific, this offbeat story from master stylist, Pascal Garnier, is at heart an affecting study of human frailty.

My Review

More amusing than heavy noir. The adventure has a few misfires as plans derail. As with any road trip, plenty of amusing characters stumbled upon. Life changes for all parties involved including spectators. No ones life will be the same in the end.

Story has an overall balance with the scales leaning towards clever satire with a touch of gritty.

As always the translation is well done, great job by Emily Boyce.

About Pascal Garnierimage

Pascal Garnier, who died in March 2010, was a talented novelist, short story writer, children’s author and painter. From his home in the mountains of the Ardèche, he wrote fiction in a noir palette with a cast of characters drawn from ordinary provincial life. Though his writing is often very dark in tone, it sparkles with quirkily beautiful imagery and dry wit. Garnier’s work has been likened to the great thriller writer, Georges Simenon. Read an article by Pascal Garnier, describing his path to becoming a writer.

Published June 11th 2012 by Gallic Books (first published January 1st 2006)

Review: George’s Grand Tour by Caroline Vermalle

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About George’s Grand Tour

At the age of eighty-three, retired butcher George Nicoleau is about to set off on the greatest adventure of his life. George and his neighbor Charles have long dreamt of a road trip, driving the 3,500 kilometres that make up the stages of the Tour de France. And now that George’s over-protective daughter has gone to South America, it’s time to seize the moment.

But just when he feels free of family ties, George’s granddaughter Adèle starts calling him from London, and he finds himself promising to text her as he travels around France, although he doesn’t even know how to use a mobile.

George is plagued by doubts, health worries, and an indifference to modern technology. And yet—might the journey still prove to be everything he had hoped for?

My Review

What a moving story, quite a gem.

I loved the way George embraced life once again through his travels, discovering technology and through his relationships with family, old and new friends.

All the loose ends to the relationships in George’s life came together nicely. Sharing the road trip with Charles as well as the true importance of the trip bridged the gap from neighbors to friends. Technology as well as sharing his travel experiences with Adéle lovingly reunited granddaughter and grandfather from a very distance relationship. I also understood the bond George shared with Françoise and their delicate tether. Secondary character George was a delight to the story.

Despite the tenderness of the story much humor was scattered through the narrative. A few scenes will leave you belly laughing. I also enjoyed the travel portion, lovely to read of the stops, sights and local flavor as these two travel partners suffer woes and comforts a travel duo endures.

I loved the ending, bittersweet, poignant, brings the entire story together. Such a marvelous story from start to finish. George is memorable.

A wonderful story gently forcing you to reflect on the relationships you’ve ignored or easily dismissed from a myriad of poor excuses. Caroline Vermalle penned a touching and uplifting story you won’t forget, very well done.

About Caroline Vermalle4872649

Caroline Vermalle was born in France in 1973 to a family whose French roots go back at least as far as the 16th century. Yet, she is a vegetarian who can’t cook, doesn’t drink, finds berets itchy and unpractical and would rather eat yesterday’s snails than jump a queue.

After graduating from film school in Paris, she became a television documentary producer for the BBC in London and travelled the world, at speed and off the beaten tracks, in search of good stories. In 2008, then on maternity leave, she penned her first novel George’s Grand Tour, whose international success allowed her to quit her job and indulge in her three passions: books, interior design and travel – slowly this time.

After writing seven novels in different genres and different languages, going on a world tour with her family and building a wooden house in a forest, Caroline now lives between a small seaside town in Vendée (France) and a small seaside town in the Eastern Cape (South Africa) with her son, a black cat and her husband, South African architect-turned-author Ryan von Ruben.

Follow Caroline on Website | TwitterFacebook

Published May 26th 2015 by Gallic Books (first published March 18th 2009)

Review: Boxes by Pascal Garnier, Melanie Florence (Translation)

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About Boxes

Brice and Emma had bought their new home in the countryside together. And then Emma disappeared. Now, as he awaits her return, Brice busies himself with DIY and walks around the village.

He gradually comes to know his new neighbours including Blanche, an enigmatic woman in white, who has lived on her own in the big house by the graveyard since the death of her father, to whom Brice bears a curious resemblance..

My Review

The language is beautiful only complimented by the stellar translation. The momentum of darkness purposefully unfolds as Brice precipices on the brink of depression to madness. You’re almost sucked into the darkness, the abyss of despair palpable. Intuition dismissed as Brice senses something isn’t quite right with Blanche. Mixed feelings regarding Blanche’s appearance, her confession came to quickly feeling untidy. No doubt her backstory was darker than I anticipated, nice touch to the overall plot and demented characterization. I enjoyed the suspense, however I felt the ending was abrupt, it left me wanting more. The journey was enjoyable more so than the destination, still well shaped.

About Pascal Garnierimage

Pascal Garnier, who died in March 2010, was a talented novelist, short story writer, children’s author and painter. From his home in the mountains of the Ardèche, he wrote fiction in a noir palette with a cast of characters drawn from ordinary provincial life. Though his writing is often very dark in tone, it sparkles with quirkily beautiful imagery and dry wit. Garnier’s work has been likened to the great thriller writer, Georges Simenon. Read an article by Pascal Garnier, describing his path to becoming a writer.

Review: Sunday by Georges Simenon

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About Sunday

A Sunday in May—a Sunday like any other at the popular inn on the Riviera, except that this is the day Emile, the chef and proprietor, is preparing to murder his wife. He has rehearsed for a year. Ada, his mistress, is waiting on tables. His wife is ready for lunch before writing checks for the customers. Emile is in the kitchen. Everything is set.

My Review

Simenon has a talent for taking a fraudulent and dysfunctional marriage and turning it upside down in a sinisterly dark manner. He takes the reader on the emotional and mental rollercoaster of his dark characters. He has a gift for noir that’s psychologically taunting.

Emile’s character is fully developed, we learn of inner most feelings and thoughts, back story, whereas Berthe’s character development is subdued but her deeper layers are revealed in scattered pieces towards the very end. I like the ambiguity Simenon created with Berthe’s feelings of Emile – love, possession or merely saving face. Their agreement to carry on to save embarrassment is unilateral frustrating Emile further.

The ending demonstrates Berthe’s true colors, backing up Simenon’s decision to keep her character under wraps until she bursts through the finish line, her stealth move leaving Emile in the dust. Nice major twist closes the character gap, as always Simenon never fails to surprise and deliver an edge to his inscrutable cast and narrative, the ending always immensely gratifying.

About Georges Simenon9693

Simenon was one of the most prolific writers of the twentieth century, capable of writing 60 to 80 pages per day. His oeuvre includes nearly 200 novels, over 150 novellas, several autobiographical works, numerous articles, and scores of pulp novels written under more than two dozen pseudonyms. Altogether, about 550 million copies of his works have been printed.

He is best known, however, for his 75 novels and 28 short stories featuring Commissaire Maigret. The first novel in the series, Pietr-le-Letton, appeared in 1931; the last one, Maigret et M. Charles, was published in 1972. The Maigret novels were translated into all major languages and several of them were turned into films and radio plays. Two television series (1960-63 and 1992-93) have been made in Great Britain.

During his “American” period, Simenon reached the height of his creative powers, and several novels of those years were inspired by the context in which they were written (Trois chambres à Manhattan (1946), Maigret à New York (1947), Maigret se fâche (1947)).

Simenon also wrote a large number of “psychological novels”, such as La neige était sale (1948) or Le fils (1957), as well as several autobiographical works, in particular Je me souviens (1945), Pedigree (1948), Mémoires intimes (1981).

In 1966, Simenon was given the MWA’s highest honor, the Grand Master Award.

In 2005 he was nominated for the title of De Grootste Belg (The Greatest Belgian). In the Flemish version he ended 77th place. In the Walloon version he ended 10th place.