Paris: The Novel, by Edward Rutherford
I’ve read many Rutherfurd novels, and this one was probably my favorite thus far. As usual, he weaves together the lives of several families through many generations. Unlike many of his novels, though, this one jumps back and forth through time. While it would sometimes take me a moment to orient myself, I loved how his departure from strict chronological order let me see an event and then later discover the family histories that sparked it. Plot-wise, my favorite story was at the end, set during World War II.
While reading this book in the Les jardins du Palais Royal, I realized that I was serendipitously reading about the building of the Palais Royal.
Five Joanne Harris Novels
I started with Five Quarters of the Orange largely because it was set in during World War II. I really enjoyed it and ended up gorging on many other books by this author: Blackberry Wine, Chocolat, The Girl with No Shadow, and Peaches for Monsieur le Curé. Harris’ books are often simultaneous gritty and lovely and include mouthwatering descriptions of food.
Three Peter Mayle Books
Since we stayed in Provence for our last month in France, I finally read my first books by Peter Mayle. I really enjoyed the descriptions of his adventures settling into France in his memiorish books, A Year in Provence and Toujours Provence (Vintage Departures). Hotel Pastis, a novel, was fine; a fun read, but not amazing to my tastes.
Other, pre-trip books that I’ve enjoyed that are set in France: