The act of reading ... begins on a flat surface, counter or page, and then gets stirred and chopped and blended until what we make, in the end, is a dish, or story, all our own.
— Adam Gopnik

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July 4, 2015

Paris in July: un livre, un film (et un biscuit, peut-être)

Paris in July is starting our wonderfully for me, thanks in part to this long weekend. Unfortunately for people who have more Fourth-of-July-esque plans, it looks like today will be rainy again {we were on the edge of a hurricane last year! I had forgotten that...}. As for me, I found that I loved having a Friday off when the holiday falls on a weekend; it's felt like I'm getting a busy Saturday and two relaxing bookish Sundays instead of the other way around.

As for Paris in July, yesterday I finished reading The Red Notebook {Le Cahier Rouge}, a short, sweet, romantic novel by Antoine Laurain, which I learned about from Fleur, and which I wanted to start reading all over again the minute I finished it.  As the story begins, Laure is returning to her apartment late at night after having dinner with friends, when she is mugged, the thief stealing her fashionable mauve handbag {with her keys and her phone}, shoving her head against a metal door frame, and smiling at her before he runs off.  Laure is dizzy and frightened, but doesn't want to waken her neighbors for help, so she walks to the hotel across the street and persuades the night porter to let her pay for her room as soon as she can get into her apartment again,  But the next morning, when she doesn't check out on time, the hotel's management discover that something is very wrong.

Next we meet Laurent, an erstwhile investment banker who gives up his high-flying career {and eventually, his wife} to open a small bookstore, Le Cahier Rouge.  As you might guess, it is Laurent who finds Laure's handbag the next morning, and when the police praise him for his civic-mindedness but tell him it will be an hour's wait before they can listen to his story, he takes the purse home to see if he can return it to its owner.  But there's little in the bag to go on, except a drycleaner's ticket for a strappy dress, an unusual key fob, and a red... {but you've guessed already}.

And even if you already know how it will end {it's romantic, remember, and it would have been disappointing if it didn't!} the story is lifted out of the ordinary by the characters {Laure, Laurent, Laurent's precocious teenage daughter, Laure's friend William, even Laure's doctor} and all of the details that always make me happy {Laure and William's unusual work in a gilding workshop, the names of the dozens of bookstores that Laurent might work in}, and just by it all happening in Paris.

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After this, of course, it was difficult to leave Paris, so I decided to watch one of the French movies I've borrowed from the library:  Delicacy {La Délicatesse}. Finally!  {I had this on my DVR for months last year, and managed to not only not watch it but to erase it in a fit of DVR-clearing.} Audrey Tatou {the only actor I recognized} plays Nathalie, a newlywed who is widowed, and devastated, when her husband is hit by a car and killed.  After the funeral, still deeply grieving, she returns to her never-quite-explained job and throws herself into her work, coping with her lecherous boss, and her gossipy coworkers. When Markus Lundell, a shlubby, not very attractive, socially awkward, sweetly funny colleague walks into her office to discuss Case 114, Nathalie stands, walks over to him, and kisses him.  Markus can't believe his luck, and no one else, including Nathalie's best friend, can understand their affair, or even their friendship, whatever it might be.  I enjoyed the film very much, and all of the characters {and the actors creating them}.  I just thought the chemistry between Nathalie and Markus wasn't quite there, or at least was sparking much more on his side than on hers, esp. in a film about unlikely chemistry.:)   But I also enjoyed watching the 'making of' feature on the DVD before I watched the film. The movie is based on a novel by David Foenkinos, and the film {maybe even a first film, if I heard that right} was made in collaboration with his brother, who directed it.  It was fun to watch the film knowing that story, and I've downloaded the book because I've found myself wanting to read it.

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And the cookie?  A new, simple, and very good one from this {relatively} new cookbook.  I made them for the first time a couple of weekends ago, but they went unphotographed, though not uneaten. Making them again for Paris in July, officially, will not be a hardship.  Perhaps tomorrow?


Lisa said...

I have a gift card from Barnes & Noble that I've been hoarding, but now I'm thinking I could use it to get a copy of The Red Notebook...

It is raining here in my part of Houston, and the rain chances are supposed to increase all day - so a good day to spend inside with books (as most days are, to be truthful). And since I did my Saturday errands yesterday, it does feel like an extra day today - though I still need to do some housework.

It's too hot to bake anything these days, so I'm not tempted there :)

Mac n' Janet said...

A good book, it's on my Amazon Wish List, a good movie and a cookie, sounds great to me.

Brona said...

Thanks - the Red Notebook is now added to my TBR Wishlist :-)

JoAnn said...

What a lovely weekend!! It all sounds so appealing.

We had a full house this weekend, so I barely managed to read at all. After a dreary, rainy start to the 4th, the weather finally cleared in time for a party.

Karen K. said...

Great review -- I've added The Red Notebook and Delicacy to my TBR and TBW (to be watched) lists, respectively. And I think I need that cookbook!

Nadia said...

I loved The Red Notebook! Its one of my new favorite books. I've added Delicacy to my watchlist and can't wait to see it. I'm going to have to get a copy of that cookbook!

Sharon said...

The Red notebook does sound like a read worth checking out. It is a title I was interested in so it was nice to see it reviewed. Wish I could get more enthusiastic about baking.

Tamara said...

Ah, the choices of what to do for Paris in July! I too have the Red Notebook on my list, and a couple of films. I've watch 8 Femmes this afternoon while doing my housework - not great and prob not for review - but easy french. I love a good cookie - so I might take a leaf out of your book and do some french baking too. Thanks for joining in Paris in July..

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