My French Bookshelf
Gorgeous new book arrived today from The Book Depository: PARIS IN COLOR (Chronicle Books, San Francisco, 2012). The author, Nichole Robertson, has taken photographs of all sorts of objects (chairs, walls, doors, cars, flowers, seats in the Metro) and grouped them by colour. So in Jaune (yellow), for example, we see yellow ranunculus, lemon tarts, a Metro sign, yellow placemats, a yellow heart painted on a white wall). The images are sometimes repetitive, but that ties each section together. A book for savouring!
And it makes me wonder if I could do what Nichole does: ‘one particular object would strike me–a bright blue moped, for example—and I’d obsess about that color for the rest of the day.’ (Introduction) So that day she’d just look for blue objects. Perhaps I could try it here in Sydney!
Another great buy from The Book Depository was QUIET CORNERS OF PARIS by Jean-Christophe Napias with photographs by Christophe Lefebure and translated by David Downie (The Little Bookroom, New York, 2007). The author’s stated objective is ‘to lead questers to the city’s magical islands [of peace, one assumes] — famous or unknown — where their thirst for silent escapes can be slaked’ (p 13). The quiet corners range from famous places like Jardin du Luxembourg and Grand Mosquee de Paris, to private villas and gardens in the 14th arrondissement. The photographs are all taken in seasons where the sun’s shining and flowers are in full bloom; I’d like to see some pictures of winter scenes (though I suppose most people aren’t sitting around in gardens then).
My most beautiful book is PARIS A guide to the city’s creative heart (Pan Macmillan, Australia, 2011). This is a lush creation, a collection of photographs and text by Janelle McCulloch. Paris in Color was a book to look at; this one is for looking at, and touching, and dipping in and out of the text. The design and photography are stunning. The first part of the book is ‘a walk through Paris’s arrondissements’ (p 003). It includes the 1st to the 11th, and the 18th. The second half of the book is a ‘Paris handbook: Inspiring shops, cafes, museums and more.’ A guide to gorgeous shops and more that you might want to visit, depending on your interests. Who can resist a list of boulangeries, patisseries and chocolateries, or of fabrics, ribbons and trims?
THE HOLIDAY GODDESS HANDBAG GUIDE TO … is a guide to Paris, London, New York and Rome, edited by Jessica Adams and illustrated by Anna Johnson (HarperCollins, Australia, 2011). It’s a fun guide to Paris aimed at a certain age and demographic, although there are ‘chiconomical secrets’ within the covers which are useful. You can also download each chapter as an e-book, which is a useful way of carrying the holiday goddess handbag (which is rather too heavy to be carried around Paris in one’s actual handbag). There is a Holiday Goddess website which you will love if you love this book (http://holidaygoddess.com).
I have read PARIS TO THE PAST Traveling Through French History by Train by Ina Caro (W. W. Norton & Company, Inc., 2011) from cover to cover. The author’s premise is that by traveling by train from Paris (and within Paris by Metro) one can travel through French history from the 12th century (St-Denis) to the time of Napoleon III and the architectural transformation of Paris. The book is divided into:
The Middle Ages: Cathedrals and Fortresses (Saint-Denis, Laon, Chartres, Reims, the Louvre, Angers, Sainte-Chapelle, Vincennes, Orleans, Rouen);
The Renaissance: Cities and Castles (Tours, Blois, Fontainebleau, Paris, La Rochelle);
The Age of Louis IV: Seventeenth Century France (Vaux-le-Vicomte, Versailles, Maintenon);
The Coming of the French Revolution: Paris in the Eighteenth Century (Paris, Petit Trianon, The Conciergerie);
The Empire and Restoration: The Bourgeois Century (Malmaison, Compiegne, Chantilly).