Back in college I took French as my foreign language. At the time I was fascinated by the French people, the countryside, the language, everything. I’m still not sure why I thought that made it a good choice to study as a language; but there you have it.
Anyway, I did great until I moved into French 5; which was for people who were going beyond the basics of the language. Suddenly I was in a class where we spoke and wrote in French, all notes had to be taken in French, books were read and reported on in French…you get the idea. It was total immersion, and I was almost lost.
I read LES MISERABLES in French, and while I understood what I was reading, I had difficulty translating the specifics of what I was reading at any given time to someone who needed it explained in English. Still, I struggled forward, and barely scraping out a passing grade. As soon as that class was finished, I left the French language behind and really never looked back.
That doesn’t mean I lost interest in the country of France, I just accepted that to truly speak and think in the French language I would have to be much more dedicated than I was. I haven’t regretted that decision either, so don’t go thinking I’m sitting here pining after a long lost job opportunity because I didn’t have a mastery of the language.
Still, the idea of Jacqueline Bouvier (Kennedy, Onassis) traveling to France as a young woman, falling in love with the country, the art, and a Frenchman was a totally understandable plot line for me. In truth, I suspect much of why I chose French back in the day was some girlish romantic notion that has long since faded as I’ve grown into an older adult. I could totally buy into that premise which is the basis for one of the strong plot lines in Ellen Crosby’s most recent book, The French Paradox.
In the book, which takes place in the wine country of Virginia, there are threads that reach back through the years to Jacqueline Bouvier as a young woman, touring France and meeting the grandfather of the book’s central character. It was easy to imagine her as a young woman, visiting the Louvre, seeing the paintings for the first time, and meeting a gallant young man.While it’s not a major part of the story, I enjoyed the little bits of France that were interspersed throughout the book
I won’t recount the entire book review at the moment. If you’re wanting to know more, click HERE and you will be taken to the review I wrote for MysteryandSuspense magazine. Also, don’t think you have to have a secret, or not so secret, love of France in order to enjoy the book. That’s jut one small part of what turned out to be a well written mystery that has a fictionalized love story attributed to a real historical figure.
One additional thing to note about the book, it is one in a series, and as such might be more enjoyable to readers who want to read series and who start with the first one and read them in order. While the mystery stands alone, it takes a minute to catch up on some of the relationships.
Whatever you decide, I hope you make time for a good book here and there. I’m beginning to realize that one of the reasons I’ve made it through the pandemic with my sanity more or less intact is that I’ve done plenty of escaping and traveling through the pages of books. So, I’ll say Happy Reading for now.