Vintage 1954 by Antoine Laurain

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Vintage 1954 by Antoine Laurain

French fiction

Original title – Millésime 1954

Translator – Gallic books (Jane Aitken / Emily Boyce)

Source – review copy

We all have a writer we go to for a fun read and for me the last few years it has been the novels of Antoine Laurain a mix of nostalgia and comedy. This is his sixth book to be translated into English by the Gallic books they are all similar in that they have an event or item that sets up a cascade of events. His novel French Rhapsody is being developed into a tv show according to the French wiki page. I have reviewed all his previous books and have grown to love his gentle comic books.

Oaris was destined to remain a fantasy for them. Two months after they met, although they had become engaged, chosen their wedding rings and dreamed of spending their honeymoon wandering the streets of Montmatre, Bob was contacted by Harley-Davidson. Their headhunters had spotted his talent as a mechanic, and they were offering him a job designing new egines, for three times what he was earning at Mensch’s Motors. Bob’s career was taking off and the flights to Paris could not compete

They had dreamed of Paris all their Married life Bob and Goldie but never got there.

So this book follows a group of people of a french Apartment building. Hubert and three other people open 1954 Beaujolais the three of them wake in 1954 Magilae an antique restorer, Bob a brash American from Milwaukee that is visiting France for the first time but alone as he was due to visit with his wife Goldie. Julien a Mixologist and Hubert as they set out to find out how to get back to 2017 and also, in turn, spend time in the Paris of 1954. As the see Piaf and Gabin dining elsewhere we head to the Louvre and the amazement of seeing the Mona Lisa not behind glass and light with special lighting, The Harrys bar with Harry still there and a new cocktail that is tasted by Audrey Hepburn when Julien makes it. They discover that a UFo was seen at the time this bottle of wine and a professor is writing a book about the events at the vineyard. Will he know the way back to the present for them? Has the past changed their view of the present?

“A new cocktail?” asked one of his colleagues, coming behind the bar

“Yes, with a violet base.”

“Write it down, Julien. Harry wants everything to be written down on the recipe book. He tapped the large book on the bar.

“Julien opened it and wrote in pencil

Abby, short drink

To a chilled mixing glass add : ice cubes, violet syrup(1cl), vodka(4cl), gin(4cl).

mix with a spoon, strain into a martini glass. Pour a little liquorice liqueur down the side of the glass.

Decorate with a twist of lemon zest, cutting one end into a star shap and resting this on the rim of the glass

Julien makes a new cocktail in 1954 that is new to him and old when he gets back to 2017

This is a bit different than his other books as it has a time travel element whereas his other have seen people look back in nostalgia  this sees people travel back to the fifties but it also sees people connecting with there own pasts and also remembering things like Bob remembering his wife Goldie is a sad story of a couple dream of Paris but never getting there they’d  watched Amelie, he ends up in the cafe in the fifties when it was at its best when their is touches like Harry and Harry’s bar a well known French cocktail bar that sees a modern as they are known Mixologist given the chance to make a drink for Audrey Hepburn and when he returns he see the Abbey now has a wiki page. There is a set of question for reading groups at the end the one that struck me is the one that says how do we cope when we haven’t a phone to find out about the world around us when we had to read and maybe ask !! another comic look back at French life and Parisian nostalgia. Have you tried Antoine Laurain? I reviewed this as part of a blog tour for Gallic books see the other bloggers here

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The Portrait by Antoine Laurain

 

Image result for antoine laurain the portrait

The Portrait by Antoine Laurain

french fiction

Original title –  Ailleurs si j’y suis,

Translators – Jane Aitken and Emily Boyce

Source – Review copy

I edge towards a hundred books from France this is book 92 and the fourth by one of my favourite writers or recent year Antoine Laurain is a witty lighthearted writer that writes the perfect summer reads for me with his last three books have brighten my summer evenings over the last few years so when his latest arrived a coup,e off months ago I read it the day it came. This was actually his debut novel in French.

That portrait of me, painted two and half centuries ago, which I came across in my forty-sixth year, was to turn out to be the high point of a collection I had been adding to for years .Ech successive year , each successive object, and each successive docket had been leading me here to this late morning in room eight of Drout auction house. But it is to the very beginning of my life as a collector that we must return , to my very first purchase. I was nine years old and , being a the good lawyer i am , I shall name that episode the “Eraser Affair ”

The first and last part of the collection maybe led him to his final piece.

Like his other books has an item as a thread for the story and also like his other books follows one persons obsession with the said item. The item in this book is a Portrait that has been purchased by Pierre Francois a collector of art , even thou this picture isn’t by a great name the second he saw the portrait,  he saw a bit of himself in the sitter of the painting. His family and friends are unable to find what Pierre sees in the painting himself. But pierre is like a dog with a rabbit trying to find out as much as he can about the sitter and artist of the said portrait  a key to this is a small coat of arms in the picture . As he sees a way to drift into the world of the painting as the history of the picture gives him a chance to escape his world. Like his other books we follow one man  journey through the past and  the city of Paris.

After driving for three hours and forty minutes , I parked my Jaguar in the little village square. Here  I was in Rivaille . There was almost no sign of life at that time of the morning, just an old Renault 4 , a clio and a little van . I got out of the car and took some deep breaths of fresh air.It’s only when you’re in the countryside that you notice how polluted, stale , and , worst of all , stupefying the air in Paris . I moved my head side to side ,stretched my arms then shut the car door as I caught sight of the nearest cafe . la jument Verte , with its “Lotto ” and “Tabac” signs I headed there for a double espresso and croissants, after which  I’d ask for directions to the chateau

Pierre nears the end of his journey into the painting .

This is a whimsical look at the life of a collector and how one can easily fall down a rabbit hole when one sees something of ones self in the art we enjoy , as a way of escaping the present. His other books always use the said item of the title the presidents hat takes back through a nostalgia for 80s and the great french leader, a notebook leads to a couple who meet across the city. A long-lost letter and tape reunites friends and this one use the Portrait to reignite a mans passion for his life  and a journey like the other books it is look back at a past and how this great city was in the past. This is almost like the Scene in Woody Allen where Owen Wilson character is given the chance to step back to the 1920’s in Paris , but we also see a looping as a character in the 20’s has a chance to go back to the 1890’s as she finds the 20’s that the Wilson character finds so exciting boring and this is also a  theme that is in the book Pierre francois is a man who has used collecting art to hide away the true sadness in his life .

 

 

The red notebook by Antoine Laurain

The red notebook by Antoine Laurain

Original title – La femme au carnet rouge

Translators – Emily Boyce and jane Aitken

Source – Review copy

She drove her mother’s car, ’twas a 2cv
I was most impressed by her casual dress
I was most impressed
Inside her rented room colored deepest blue
I suppose we found some kind of happiness
To fill the emptiness
We were simply wasting precious time
Hiding from the cruelest summer sky
She took her mother’s car to get away from me
Heaven knows that i, I can sympathize
Oh I can sympathize
For we were never close if the truth were told
All we ever shared was a taste in clothes
Oh we were never close

I choose another romantic Lloyd Cole an early song 2CV  obviously a slight link in the title  to france as well .

 

Well another visit to france today .This is the second book by Antoine Laurain , I have reviewed here on the blog .The first The presidents hat was a real hit with me when I read it . Antoine Laurain has written five books and collects antiques .His books have translated into many  european  languages . There is a short questionaire with him on the Gallic books blog .

Laurant had never opened a woman’s handbag . He hadn’t opened his mother’s when he was a child and he hadn’t opened claire’s either . Occasionally he had been told , ” Take the keys from my bag ” or “There’s a pack of tissues in my bag ; you can take those . He had not touched a handbag without explict prior authorisation , more like a command that only vaild for a very limited time .

How this made me smile , I think most of us men have similar a expereience .

So The red notebook is similar in  premise to the presidents hat . Again the story starts with a lost item . This time it is a hand bag , unlike presidents hat the finder of this bag doesn’t know who the bag belongs too . The bag is in the hands of laurent Letellier a bookseller , when he finds  the bag  outside his shop .Having been lost when it’s owner was attacked in that spot  .He looks through the bags contents and comes across the red notebook and a few other items .One of these items is a signed novel by Patrick Modiano   . But none of these give a clue to the bags owner . So Laurent reads the notebook and through its content is drawn to its lady owner . what follows is a journey through the notebook and it;s notes .Along the way laurent meets the recent French Nobel winning writer Patrick Modiano . Can this notebook lead laurent to this women he has fallen for without even meeting . The charm of this story is a shy is guy trying to discover this women that to him seems very interesting .

He paused . Laurent stared at him . Only Patrick Modiano could tell you he didn’t remember the woman he had met in the street then immediately go on to give you a description that would have delighted any police force in the country .”Thank you , ” said Laurent in a low voice .

Had pick a line with Modiano in as it shows his respect in France that Laurain include him in this book

I was charmed again by this writers fiction .It’s not very lit , but has the same charm as you find in say the french films by Tati . What we see is one mans journey through Paris to find one woman . Along the way Laurain pays homage in a way to Modiano  both by putting him in the book as a character .But also the style of the book is in a small way  an homage to Modiano a detective novel without being a detective novel .This book is a perfect holiday book or train journey book . I love a book that leaves me with a smile after I have put it down . Sometimes we all need something that is both a page turner and fun to read . I really can’t wait too Gallic hopefully publishes the next book by him .

 

The President,s hat by Antoine Laurain

presidents-hat

The president’s hat by Antoine Laurain

French literature

Original title – Le chapeau de Mitterrand

Translator Gallic books (the four main characters stories were translated by three translators )

Source – review copy

Antoine Laurain is a Parisian born writer ,he has won a number of prizes and has written four novels .The president’s hat is his first book to be translated into English .

I am dining next to the president of the republic ,Daniel kept repeating to himself ,trying to convince himself that , irrational as it seem ,it was really happening to him .He barely noticed the taste of his first oyster ,so preoccupied was he by his new neighbours .

Daniel is eating when Mitterrand comes into the Brassiere he is in

Well this is a strange one I had picked this up a week earlier in the bookshop when it came out attracted by the cover and also the story as it was set during the eighties .So when I got chance to review it from Gallic books I jumped at the chance .The book follows a hat ,the hat happens to belong too President Mitterrand .The hat goes on an adventure after being left behind by the president in a Parisian restaurant and being picked up by Daniel Mercier ,this dull officer worker is in two minds to take the hat and when he does the hat seems to have some magic effect on him giving him a new air of confidence ,he subsequently loses the hat it then passes through Fanny ,Pierre and Bernhard all are touched or change when the hat comes into their lives .Meanwhile Daniel is trying to regain the hat and regain its powers as he sees it .What is Mitterrand doing about his lost hat ? why didn’t he go back  for it .

The black felt brim acted like a visor ,compressing the space around her and marking out a distinct horizon .In Batigonelles ,a man did a double take as he passed her .What kind of image was she projecting ,walking along in the moonlight in her denim mini-skirt ,high heels ,silver jacket and black hat ?

Fanny finds the hat after Daniel she is a 80’s hip girl in her own words

This book isn’t high French lit ,but it is fun lighter reader  .For me its from that part of the French psyche that produces films like Amelie ,which this book really remind me of that fuzzy warmness I got form that film ,That light-hearted Gallic humour  of misadventures  ,Like the box that Amelie finds the hat is a framing devices and a talisman to all the come in contact with and in some way changes everyone’s life  .In the back of the book is an interview with Antoine Laurain where he said he came up with the idea after losing his own hat and imagining after he had returned to the restaurant and their was no sighting that it had fallen into the hands of a beautiful women .Her choose the 1980’s as he want to go back to a simple period of French life ,Nick Lezard in his Guardian review talks of a new sub genre of  ” pre mobile phone literature” ,I agree in part but part of me thinks that anyone of a certain age in both UK and France looks back at the 80’s as a golden age in a way the last time before the world started to speed up due to so much information and internet . When people still read papers ,houses still had  phones or minitel in Frances case .Even our news seemed different we know who Mitterrand was we saw him on our tv on the news regularly as the world has sped up the last twenty years or viewing of the news has changed so we know less about our French neighbours current leader than we did in the 80’s which is a shame .This book is a fast read I finished it in a little over a night and it was a book that when I put it finally down I was smiling and a little upset that it had finished as I loved the world I had been in between the covers .

Have you read the book ?

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