Ooh La La: another reading challenge

It’s a good thing I only have a part time library job, as it’s difficult just keeping up with book blogging! (If I’ve forgotten to reply to a comment at some point, I apologize, at this stage, attaching names to everyone’s blogs and remembering where all I’ve roamed within the world of book blogs to is still confusing.)

That said, here is another reading challenge I’ve joined:

I was really excited to find the French Historicals Oh-La-La! challenge hosted by Enchanted by Josephine since I’m fascinated by 19th century Paris, especially the Second Empire (1852-1870). There aren’t a lot of novels set in that time period however (except for the pessimistic Zola) and I have no idea why — Napoleon III is wonderfully ridiculous and his wife Empress Eugenie greatly intrigues me (she’s portrayed on the far right of the above banner). I would love to write a novel set in that time myself someday!

So I may be reading a few history books about them for this challenge, as well as learning about the painters (Manet and Berthe Morisot, among others), poets (Baudelaire and more) and writers from the time period. It should be fascinating! I’d also like to try a few historical novels, as well as some of the 19th century French classics. (The interesting thing is that even a classic can be a historical novel, Flaubert wrote Salammbo about ancient Carthage and it became all the rage to throw Carthaginian theme parties, even Empress Eugenie did it!)

I’m going to sign up for the L’Impératrice level, which is more than 9 books, simply to get myself actually reading more books about Paris in the 19th century. Like I say, I would love to write a novel set in the Second Empire once I’ve done my research. More reviews on how Zola writes about the beautiful clothes and furniture in The Kill are sure to follow!

7 thoughts on “Ooh La La: another reading challenge

    • afewofmyfavouritebooks says:

      I saw your post about not doing too many challenges this year and it helped me have some perspective on remembering to read what I want to read, and not just what I think I should, especially since I’ve just started book blogging and do want to get out and join in on things. So with what you wrote in mind, I’ve only joined a few that I really am excited about. I’m already feeling a bit of pressure to read everything at once, but hopefully it’ll all work out. I guess if it doesn’t no one’s going to hunt me down! Hopefully the challenges will just provide a bit of structure to my very random reading habits. I tend to only read 50 books a year anyways, so if I don’t try to read everything at once (I’m already putting too many books on hold at the library!), I’ll be ok.

      And I hope you read more Zola anyways, I’d love to keep the conversation about him going.

  1. Amateur Reader says:

    Set, then, huh, not written? Let’s see.

    Maupassant’s “Boule de Suif” is set during the Franco-Prussian War, and I think he has a number of other stories from that period.

    I’m going to try to round up a group read of Hugo’s 1866 The Toilers of the Sea sometime this fall, but I have no idea when the book takes place.

    Have you tried Alphonse Daudet or the Goncourts brothers?

    The “Swann in Love” section of Swann’s Way might belong here, although I could be wrong.

    Curious gap.

    • afewofmyfavouritebooks says:

      I had to read Maupassant’s The Necklace in junior high and have been off him (and short stories with a twist) ever since! But certainly I’ll give him another try. (I just found out Henry James wrote a short story called Paste with a twist on The Necklace, now that looks more interesting)

      Wikipedia tells me The Toilers of the Sea is set after the Napoleonic Wars and takes place on an island. Hugo exiled himself from France the whole time Napoleon III was in power (although he came back and lived in Paris in 1870 during the siege, why!?), so all he wrote about the time period were some negative political pamphlets, including one called Napoleon le Petit. They look like fun.

      I’ve looked at an abridged version of the Goncourt Journal, but forgot about it, clearly I need to get it from the library again. And I hadn’t heard of Daudet (or at least the name is vaguely familiar, but not as a writer ~ aha, I see it is because Proust was friends with his son Lucien!), thank you.

      You could be right about Swann in Love, I hadn’t thought of that! Proust’s mother was pregnant with him during the Prussian siege of Paris (and the stress and lack of food during that time was why they figured he was such a sickly and pathetic child later), so I suppose if the book follows the timeline of Proust’s life, Swann in Love would have been set during the Second Empire. I’m at that part now, so I’ll pay more attention! (I didn’t like it as much as Combray the first time I read it, I’m more into flowers and nature and nostalgic childhood memories than sexual jealousy… 😉 But I’m starting to catch more of Proust’s humour this time, especially his portrayal of the ‘little group’ and there’s always Odette’s clothes and interior decorating skills to look forward to.)

      Sidenote: have you heard of Proust’s collection of pastiches of various writers called The Lemoine Affair? I saw it in a bookstore a year ago and stupidly didn’t buy it. Here he’s parodying the Goncourts: http://proustreading.blogspot.com/2008/10/prousts-mock-goncourt-journal.html

      Thanks for so much to think about and read.

  2. Amateur Reader says:

    The “Combray” section is my favorite, too. “Swann in Love” is really a different book – different style, tone, purpose.

    Like you, I’ve looked through The Lemoine Affair but not yet read it.

    My understanding, which is not firsthand, is that “The Diamond Necklace” is not typical Maupassant. I have a Peguin Classics collection (unread) that omits it, sort of sniffily – “oh, that thing, you can get that anywhere.”

    Thaks for looking up the Hugo information. I could have done that, but didn’t!

  3. Lucy says:

    Oh I so look forward to your reviews! It looks like you will be reading exquisite books-totally my taste! Thanks for joining the Challenge:)

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