Archive for the ‘Book’ Category

With so much closed right now, at least we can open a good book, and what a treat to read ‘A Noel Killing’ set in Aix at Christmas – the festive, crowded, colourful Aix we all remember. It’s the latest in the series of novels set in town by local author M L Longworth. I’ve read them all so far and enjoy the intricate plots set in locations I know so well.

“Christmastime in the south of France is as beautiful as ever, but when a shady local businessman drops dead in the middle of the festivities, Verlaque and Bonnet must solve the case while keeping the holiday spirit alive.

“Antoine Verlaque, examining magistrate for the beautiful town of Aix-en-Provence, doesn’t like Christmas. The decorations appear in the shops far too early, festive tourists swarm the streets, and his beloved Cours Mirabeau is lined with chalets selling what he regards as tacky trinkets. But his wife and partner Marine Bonnet is determined to make this a Christmas they can both enjoy, beginning with the carol sing at the Cathedral Saint Sauveur, a beautiful service in a packed church.

“Just as the holiday cheer is in full swing, a man is poisoned, sending the community into a tailspin. The list of suspects, Verlaque and Bonnet quickly discover, almost fills the church itself, from the visiting vendors at the Christmas fair to the victim’s unhappy wife and his disgruntled business partner. In A Noël Killing, with the help of an ever-watchful young woman named France, the pair must solve the murder while the spirit of the season attempts to warm Verlaque’s stubborn heart.”

Treat yourself – or friends at Christmas.  Order from Book-in-Bar.

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Supporting the Bookshops of Aix

Local bookshops have decided to do all they can to supply much-needed reading material during the latest confinement.  So, while they are technically closed, they have installed tables in their doorways to facilitate a ‘clique et collecte’ operation.

  • You can’t go inside for a browse but…
  • You can order and pay online, and breeze up to collect your books which will be waiting for you.

If you want French books, Goulard in the cours Mirabeau will have orders placed online in the morning, available in the afternoon.  Their manager told La Provence that they would be losing money but felt they should continue to serve their customers.

And if you want books in English, where else but Book In Bar?  As well as click and collect, they will deliver in centre ville, or pop books in the post.  Contact them on 04 42 26 60 07 or bookinbar@gmail.com.

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If you can access the BBC, there’s a light-hearted look at the French Revolution on Friday evening. ‘Royal History’s Biggest Fibs’ is presented by the curator of the UK’s royal palaces, Lucy Worsley, who has a tendency to dress up and join in the fun.  But she is a serious historian and should have interesting insights.

‘In this film, Lucy Worsley explores some of the myths and fibs swirling around the Revolution of 1789 and the uprising that brought down the French royal family. This violent revolution became the blueprint of many future revolutions across the world. But what happened during this turbulent period is open to historical manipulation and interpretation.

Lucy discovers that Marie Antoinette never said ‘Let them eat cake’. This was a fib used by historians to help explain why the revolution happened. Historian Michael Rapport explains how the revolution was not started by starving peasants as many assume but was in fact sparked by a group of lawyers and property owners. Along the way, Lucy finds out that Maximilien Robespierre wasn’t simply a bloodthirsty revolutionary who relished violence and wanted to execute everyone who disagreed with him. In his earlier years, he stood against the death penalty and slavery and fought for the rights of France’s Jewish population. And the guillotine was invented by the revolutionaries not as a brutal punishment but as a more egalitarian and humanitarian form of execution.’

Details: Friday 6th November, 9pm British time; BBC2

Charleston farmhouse, home to the Bloomsbury group, and literary festival, now online

And, online this week, there’s a treat in the form of the annual literary festival at Charleston, the Sussex farmhouse that was the richly-decorated country hang-out for the Bloomsbury Group.

‘Join in conversations with a star-studded line-up including Maggie O’Farrell, Claire Tomalin, Monty Don, Elif Shafak and Carl Zimmer from the comfort of your own home as the Charleston to Charleston Literary Festival goes digital! The 10-day celebration of literature and ideas takes place online from 6 – 15 November with 16 free events.  All sessions premiere at Eastern Standard Time (EST) but most will be available to watch on YouTube after they have been streamed’.  Find out more here: http://www.charlestontocharleston.com/  The programme hasn’t anything specifically French but I’ve included this as probably we all need some diversion during lockdown!


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A final post on books today!

The Cheltenham Literature Festival, one of the Uk’s best-known, is taking place this year 2-11 October under strict social-distancing conditions; but the good news is that we can all join in, free of charge.  There are some interesting writers either taking part in discussions or introducing their books.  Take a look: https://www.cheltenhamfestivals.com/literature/

Lovers of all things French should enjoy ‘Au Revoir Tristesse. Lessons in Happiness from French Literature’. Writer, comedian and broadcaster Viv Groskop takes a light-hearted look at how to bring more humour, happiness, and joie de vivre into our lives through French literature. From the frothy hedonism of Colette and the wit of Cyrano de Bergerac to the intoxicating universe of Marguerite Duras and the heady passions of Les Liaisons Dangereuses, this is a love letter to great French writers.  October 7th, 10-11:00hrs.

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Books 3: Sale of Books and DVDs

Just the thing for the coming winter months! Ansouis library is holding its annual book sale on Saturday September 26th from 10am to 5pm. There will be a wide selection of books & DVDs in both English and French.
The sale will be held in the library/school car park –  just outside the village on the road to La Tour d’Aigues. The proceeds will go to the library to help buy new books and organise cultural events.

Thanks for this information go to Claire McAlpine who writes:’ if anyone is looking for reading recommendations they can check out my Word by Word blog at https://clairemcalpine.com/

I’ll be donating quite a few boxes of books, many of which I’ve reviewed’.

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Books 2: Crime Novels set in Aix

An Aixcentric follower yesterday prompted me to remind everyone of a series of crime novels set in Aix.  She had spent time in town recently on holiday and loved reading fiction set in places newly familiar.  For all those who aren’t in Provence right now but would like to immerse themselves in the unique ambiance of Aix, the ‘Verlaque and Bonnet Mystery’ series by M. L. Longworth provides the perfect escapism.

There are 8 titles to date with stories set in villages around town, the coast too, as well as the streets and squares of Aix. ‘Death at the Chateau Bremont’ (see photo) is perhaps the best starting point, being the first in the series; but all the novels are stand-alone so dive in wherever you like.

M. L . Longworth has written for The Washington Post, The Times (London), The Independent, and Bon Appétit magazine. She divides her time between Aix-en-Provence, where she writes, and Paris, where she teaches writing at New York University’s Paris campus.

The books are available at Aix’s English language book-shop, Book-in-Bar, or from Amazon: https://www.google.com/search?client=firefox-b-d&q=amazon.fr+m+l+longworth


PS. To read my reviews of her novels over the years, just type Longworth into the Aixcentric search bar and they should pop up.











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For all who love art or indeed are painters themselves, Aix-based Trevor White has written “Art and Perspective through the Ages”, ISBN 0999093347.  With his scientific background, he was intrigued as to how artists have strived to represent our rich, three-dimensional world on a flat, two-dimensional canvas. He asked himself:

How have artists represented our world over the centuries?

At what point did artists first represent the world in a realistic, natural-looking way?

What techniques did they use to help achieve realism?

Using famous works as examples, Trevor takes us on a journey from pre-historic art, through spectacular Renaissance paintings, to modern-day photorealism. We learn how, over time, artists devised techniques that produce impressive depth and realism on a flat surface. Next time you see a painting, especially a famous one, you will appreciate even more the genius behind the canvas.

Choose between English and French versions
Available worldwide, in print and Kindle formats via Amazon (France and UK)

Click for a short video sample on youtube https://youtu.be/D1HnMHVnBnI

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Each year, there’s an opportunity in Aix to push open the doors of some of the most elegant and private-looking townhouses to visit their gardens.  The special weekend is usually in June, but this year, the Flaneries d’art takes place at the end of this week. (more…)

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Here’s an update from Jules Farber: ‘The real estate developer went ahead in demolishing two wings of the house in which James Baldwin had his office and living space. The remaining building now serves for pool equipment and other technical installations plus a caretaker’s apartment.’
Instead there is: LE JARDIN DES ARTS : 18 luxury apartments built around a large outdoor pool on 2.3 hectares of landscaped gardens . Sea view.  Situated short stroll from Saint-Paul de Vence.


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A focus on James Baldwin by the National Museum of African American History and Culture in Washington, D.C. has resulted in a digital treasure trove of material being made available including two texts from local author Jules Farber.

Farber “discovered,” by chance, the black author’s little-known home in Saint-Paul de Vence in southern France where he lived during the last 17 years of his life until his death there in 1987. To know about Baldwin’s happy stay in Saint-Paul, Farber interviewed over 70 Baldwin friends ranging from village people to international celebrities including Harry Belafonte, Sidney Poitier, Maya Angelou, Angela Davis and others who regularly came to visit him. (more…)

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