So far as my participation in Paris In July Year Ten I have read
1. Colette- Two Early Short Stories
2. The Black Notebook by Patrick Modiano
3. "A Duel" by Guy de Maupassant ( A Franco-Prussian War Story)
4. Life, Death, and Betrayal at The Hotel Ritz in Paris by Tilar Mazzeo (non fiction)
5. How the French Invented Love by Marilyn Yolem (literary history)
6. "The Lost Child" by Francois Coppée
7. "The Juggler of Norte Dame" by Anatole France- no post
8. A Very French Christmas- A Collection of the Greatest Holiday Stories of France
9. "The Illustrious Gaudissart" by Honore de Balzac
10. After the Circus by Patrick Modiano
11. "Gaudissart Ii" by Honore de Balzac
12. 6:41 to Paris by Jean-Phillipe Blondel
6:41 to Paris by Jean-Philippe Blondel (translated elegantly by Alison Anderson) is entirely set in a second class compartment on the 6:21 train to Paris. At first Cecile Duffant, a forty seven year old owner of an organic beauty supply firm, is alone in the cabinet. Then she is joined by Phillipe Leduc, a man with whom she had a four month long affair 27 years ago. Both recognize exact other and decide not to speak or acknowledge the past. The woman is married with a teenage daughter. The man, he once had great promise, for many years has sold TVs. He is divorced. She looks elegant, the years have made him a bit shabby.
In alternative chapters each one begins to recollect the stormy affair. Long ago Cecile was happy for any attention, lacking much self esteem. Now she is a strong self-confident businesswoman in a good marriage. By contrast Phillipe is stuck in a dull job and his own kids prefer to stay at the house of his wife's new husband.
6:41to Paris skillfully presents the alternative memories, showing us we are never free from out past and how our present shapes our understanding of our past.
I very much enjoyed this book.
6:41 to Paris is published by New Vessel Press (newvessalpress.com), a small independent publisher. They have recently published several books that would be perfect for Paris in July. Here is their mission statement
"New Vessel Press, founded in New York City in 2012, is an independent publishing house specializing in the translation of foreign literature into English. Our books are available in quality paperback and ebook formats.
By bringing readers foreign literature and narrative nonfiction, we offer captivating, thought-provoking works with beautifully-designed covers and high production values. We scour the globe looking for the best stories, knowing that only about three percent of the books published in the United States each year are translations. That leaves a lot of great literature still to be discovered.
At New Vessel Press, we believe that knowledge of foreign cultures and literatures enriches our lives by offering passageways to understand and embrace the world. We also regard literary translation as both craft and art, enabling us to traverse borders and open minds. We are committed to books that offer erudition and enjoyment, that stimulate and scintillate, that transform and transport.
And of course, what matters most is not where the authors hail from, or what language they write in. The most important thing is the quality of the work itself. And hence our name. We publish great books, just in a new vessel."
Jean-Philippe Blondel was born in 1964 in Troyes, France where he lives as an author and English teacher. His novel The 6:41 to Paris has been a bestseller in both France and Germany.
The Reading Life