Friday, February 22, 2013

Franco Fridays: Books I've Read

As soon as I knew our trip to Paris was a possibility my mind started gathering everything I've ever read, thought, or seen about Paris and France in general.  I also came up with a mental pie chart of what I think will enhance my enjoyment of the trip.  It looked something like this.

 I made a pie chart???  Moving on.

There is a second part to the announcement of our mission trip to Paris.  The second part is that KJ is planning for us to stay an extra week because...we're already in Europe, right?  He spent the bulk of yesterday fine-tuning two possible week-long excursions.  One involves a small tour of the Swiss Alps, the other involves staying a little longer around Paris and going to Normandy.  We really can't go wrong. 

Our England trip was like a coming home to me, and that was caused by that 60 % of the pie chart.  I'd spent 20 years of my life in the world of the English novel.  My grandmother gave me The Secret Garden in 1990, and I think that was the beginning.  France doesn't have that same leverage, but here are the books I've read that influence my real and imaginary knowledge about France and its history.

First up?  The Phantom of the Opera.  I started reading the classics in 11th grade.  I had the piano music to the musical, but I'd never seen it and wasn't familiar with the story when I read the book.  It was scary!  I thought the Phantom was an extremely menacing and evil character, and when KJ and I watched the musical turned movie after we got married, I did NOT feel the mercy towards him that they wanted you to feel.  He didn't have that sad origin story they give him in the musical.  I went back and read the book again after watching the movie and managed to feel a smidgen of pity for him the second go-round.

The Three Musketeers:  Reading this book was momentous because for the first time since 6th grade, Gone with the Wind was replaced as "my favorite book."  I still remember how I laughed at the understated humor and how funny d'Artagnan's arrival in Paris was.  11th grade was a big reading year for me, because next came...

A Tale of Two CitiesIt may not be written by a French author, but I probably get most of my information about the French Revolution from it, if not all.  It the best book, so beautiful, and one of the first books I read that at the end gave me a feeling of perfection. You can't end a story on a more perfect or poignant note.

Les Miserables:  I had no idea what this book was about when I picked it out for my beach reading when KJ and I took our small youth group in Kentucky to Student Life Camp.  I remember laughing at the time because it was not a light beach read in the least, but we were in one of those discount outlet book stores, and it was a steal.  I still remember the moment I finished this book:  8 or 9 months pregnant with Ella, in a lounge chair in the little backyard of our townhouse in Louisville, really happy I'd stuck it out and finished, because like A Tale of Two Cities, it struck just the right chord in my heart at the end.

The Count of Monte Cristo:  I asked for this tome for Christmas the year Ella was born.  KJ and I had just started subscribing to Netflix and rented the movie, and I enjoyed it so much I wanted to read the book, find out what really happened, you know?  There are some significant plot differences, of course, and some of them I liked, a few I wished could have been like the movie.  I'll try not to spoil it if anyone wants to tackle that one.

Yesterday I fnished Twenty Years After, a sequel to The Three Musketeers, which I somehow did not realize existed, probably because my knowledge of all things French is rather scant, but I am learning! and really enjoying the learning.  I thought Twenty Years After was even funnier than TTM, with maybe some of the best one-liners in literature. 

So that is the book knowledge I'm starting with:  musketeers, King Louis XIII, a haunted opera house, wild bloodshed, many injustices, redemption, scheming cardinals.  Perhaps my biggest takeaway from these books is how long and fought for was freedom and equality in France.


  1. I want to be like you!

    Happy planning :)

    1. You are so silly. :) And such a sweet sister.