Murder on Brittany Shores, by Jean-Luc Bannalec (2016)

Mystery
Adult
Murder on Brittany Shores, by Jean-Luc BannalecThree bodies wash ashore on a remote and uninhabited island off the French shore in Brittany after a storm. Despite the fact this is almost certainly an accident, Commissaire Georges Dupin is obliged to abandoned his beloved morning coffee and croissant at the local cafe in order to investigate. The islands fall within his area of responsibility. And to make matters worse, his boss, the hated Prefect, is using the helicopter, and so Dupin must travel by speedboat. He, a man who does not swim, who loves being AT the sea but not being ON the sea. It’s an important distinction. Robbed of his morning caffeine, Dupin heads off in full-blown cranky mode, and sure enough, gets thoroughly wet. Read More »

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Cry, Heart, But Never Break, by Glenn Ringtved (2001, 2016)

Illustrated Book
4-9
Cry, Heart, But Never Break by Glenn RingtvedThis is the second of two books I’m reviewing today on grief and death. They are challenging issues for any of us, and when children are involved, books can offer a way for adults to help kids grasp an understanding of death and accept the pain of loss. This tender and sensitive book offers an honest and gentle approach to an impending loss. Four children are sharing a kitchen table with Death, who has come for their beloved grandmother. Death is presented as a visitor, a kind one, whose heart is surprisingly full of a love for life. The children naturally try to deter Death from his task. Read More »

Murderous Mistral, by Cay Rademacher (2015, 2017)

Mystery
Adult
Murderous Mistral, by Cay RademacherParisian gendarme Capitaine Roger Blanc has just completed a sweeping corruption investigation that resulted in several high-profile arrests, but also led to his being banished to Provence. It’s a punishment for being a bit too successful in a society where political lives are built on back-scratching and favours. To make matters worse for our hero, his wife announces she is staying in Paris. With her lover. Newly single, Roger heads to Sainte-Françoise-la-Vallée, nearly 1000 kms south of Paris. His new commandant is a rising star who is not happy to have a corruption expert sent to his stable of officers, and he assigns the Capitaine to a corner space with an ancient computer and a lethargic partner who enjoys long lunches with bottles of rosé. Read More »

The Little French Bistro, by Nina George (2010, 2017)

Contemporary Fiction
Adult
The Little French Bistro by Nina GeorgeHere is another story of life and love found at last by middle-aged characters from the German writer who gave us The Little Paris Bookshop. Originally published in German in 2010, this English translation, again by Simon Pare, comes on the heels of George’s success with Bookshop. Living in a loveless marriage to a truly horrid man, Marianne decides to end her life by jumping off a bridge over the Seine in Paris. The attempt fails and she is hospitalized. Following a visit by her furious husband, she walks out after stealing a lovely hand-painted tile depicting a seaside town in Brittany. Enchanted by the sea she has never seen, Marianne decides to go there and complete her suicide by walking into the sea. Read More »

Britt-Marie Was Here, by Fredrik Backman (2014, 2016)

Adult
Fiction
Britt-Marie Was HereFrom the author of the delightful A Man Called Ove comes a quirky, sweet and heart-breaking story of a woman at odds with the world. Britt-Marie is 63 years old, and after 40 years of trying to make a happy home with her distant and cheating husband Kent, she has walked out. She needs work, but with few skills other than cleaning, she ends up taking the job of caretaker of a recreation centre doomed to close in the declining community of Borg. Confronted by dirty handprints, muddy floors, noisy children playing soccer badly in the parking lot, and an apparent community-wide disregard for any sort of order, Britt-Marie retreats into familiar territory. She cleans. Read More »

The Readers of Broken Wheel Recommend, by Katarina Bivald (2013, 2016)

Romance
Adult
The Readers of Broken Wheel RecommendThis is a book for booklovers. A book about books, in the vein of The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society or 84, Charing Cross Road. Sara Lindqvist is a self-described mousy-haired bookshop clerk from Sweden. She has been exchanging letters for some two and a half years with Amy Harris, who lives in the downtrodden and tiny town of Broken Wheel, Iowa. When the bookshop closes and Sara finds herself out of a job and with plenty of time on her hands, she accepts Amy’s offer of a place to stay, and makes the voyage with intentions of spending her days chatting about books and life with her pen pal. Alas, she arrives to discover that Amy was in fact quite ill, and has passed away. Read More »

Death in Brittany, by Jean-Luc Bannalec (2012, 2015)

Mystery
Adult
Death in BrittanyCommissaire Georges Dupin is responsible for policing the small Breton town of Concarneau, a fishing village on the Atlantic coast in the northeast corner of France. He’s been there nearly three years, since being banished from Paris for “certain disputes” with his superiors – the first clue that this bad-tempered cop will be an interesting character with little regard for the way things are done. He has accepted his fate, contentedly starting each day with several morning coffees and croissants at a pretty cafe devoid of annoying tourists. The morning of July 7, his custom is interrupted with a phone call from the irritating Inspector Labat informing him of a murder in nearby Point-Aven, a village whose top cop is on holiday. Read More »