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French Fiction Fridays #12

For this second edition of the renewed French Fiction Fridays, let yourselves embark on historical and breathless journeys. You will discover two atmospheres between the oceans and ruins of war, but also two destinies braving great dangers.

"Bonne lecture" to all!

1, rue des Petits-pasby Nathalie HugPublisher: Calmann-Lévy

Winter, 1918-1919, Eastern France. In a village a few miles from the front, nothing is left but ruins. Most of the men are dead, women and children have not been spared.

Louise, sixteen, is an orphan. Taken in by a midwife, she learns her trade: assisting in childbirth, of course, but also treating the ailments of all and sundry, and lending an ear to those with confessions. Opportunists discovering post-war tourism, departing American soldiers, good souls, prostitutes, babies who are unwanted and others who don’t survive, shop girls and schoolteachers, each carries on with their life, in spite of the ghosts of those who won’t return and whose return is still hoped-for.

In this remote village, local myths sustain fears, and hatred makes sense to people. Louise must confront these fears and hatreds to build her life in this desolate place, where the horror of war vies with solidarity and hope.

Nathalie Hug is the author of three novels with Calmann-Lévy: 1, rue des Petits-pas, L’Enfant-rien, and La Demoiselle des tic-tac. She also collaborates frequently with her husband, fantasy writer Jérôme Camut, with whom she has written Les Éveillés (2008), 3 fois plus loin (2009), Les Yeux d’Harry (2010), and Les Murs de sang (2011), all published by Calmann-Lévy. She and her husband live in Lorraine.

Read excerpt (English) translated from the French by Jeanine Herman

Read excerpt (French)


The Lost Man of Lisbon

(L'Egaré de Lisbonne)by Bruno d'HalluinPublisher: Gaïa

João, the King of Portugal's cosmographer, is ship’s doctor onboard an armada heading for India. Is it for the spice trade that they brave scurvy, gangrene, and fickle winds, or rather, to be the first to map the coast of Africa? João’s dream is to achieve this mission and to make a lasting contribution to the map of the world, which is jealously guarded in Lisbon. It was a time when all the coastlines on marine maps trailed off into a series of dots. A time of great discoveries—the age of exploration.

Bruno d’Halluin was born in Annecy in 1963. Since his earliest childhood, he has been a lover of geography and the history of exploration. At the age of 20, he began sailing with his friends. He took on many journeys to Brittany, Ireland, and the Caribbean, first as a deck hand, and then as a skipper. When not traveling around the world with a backpack or a duffel, he lives in Savoy.

His previous novel, Jón of Iceland (Gaïa), published in 2010, won the “Prix du livre insulaire” for island fiction, the “Prix du Cercle de la Mer” for maritime fiction, and was a finalist for the “Prix Gens de mer,” a prize for maritime fiction sponsored by the “Étonnants Voyageurs” literary festival.

Read excerpt (English) translated from the French by Edward Gauvin

Read excerpt (French)