Struck by Love: French Summer Love Stories

July 1, 2014 | By Book Department

Literary Matches Made in Heaven:
Is it true that “the French invented Love”, as Marilyn Yalom puts it? Feast your eyes and hearts upon some of the most beautiful French love stories of all time.

Aurélien by Louis Aragon (Gallimard, 1986)
During the roaring twenties, the French capital was teeming with artists and writers such as Picasso or Cocteau. Here, Aurélien, steps in—a disenchanted young bourgeois wandering around a morbid illusional Paris of his own. He falls in love, against his will, with a young provincial called Bérénice. They fight for the Absolute of love during the interwar period.

The Lover by Marguerite Duras (Pantheon Books, 1998)
This haunting tale of a tumultuous affair between an adolescent French girl and her Chinese lover is set in the prewar Indochina. In spare yet luminous prose, Duras evokes life on the margins of Saigon in the waning days of France’s colonial empire, and its representation in the passionate relationship between two unforgettable outcasts.

Belle du seigneur by Albert Cohen (Viking, 1995)
Often perceived as one of the most beloved French love stories, Belle du seigneur is set in Geneva in the 1930s. The narrative revolves around a Mediterranean Jewish man employed by the League of Nations called Solal, and his passionate romance with a married Swiss aristocrat, Ariane D’Auble.

Mood Indigo by Boris Vian (FSG, 2014)
Icon of French literature for fifty years, this Boris Vian novel tells the simple story of two people falling in love; and where one of them, Chloé, falls ill on their honeymoon with a water lily on her lung. This sickness can only be treated by being surrounded by flowers. Colin goes broke desperately trying to keep his true love alive.

Too hot, too cold, too angry, too quiet, too busy, too lonely? We have the solutions here! Fun, fear and passion await. Each week, we will post thematic lists of great titles so you can let your bookworming desires run wild. Follow us on Twitter @FrenchBooksUSA and Instagram