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Assassins d'avant by Élisa Vix
This one is another roman policier.
One of the nice things about reading to improve one's language is that you don't really have to read things that are very literary. Popular works, for the sake of their popularity, can be instructive all by themselves. Not that this isn't going to be literary; I don't know whether it is or not. But I don't need it to be. I just need it to be interesting enough to keep the pages turning.
The back-of-the-book summary:
Manuel Ferreira is a cop. When a young woman asks to interview him about the ranks of the police, he's charmed at first. But when she pulls out a photograph taken twenty-five years ago, the worst of memories rise up to the surface.
Adèle Lemeur is no journalist, but a medical researcher. Her mother was Marie Moineau, the fifth-grade teacher killed in front of her classroom of students, including Manuel himself---who never forgot that terrible scene, and maybe became a cop to exorcise it.
She wants to know why her mother died, and Manuel is the only one who can help her find his former classmates, the witnesses to the crime. He says yes: because he wants to see her again, because of his unhappiness, because of his love for the one woman he has no right to love.
In a novel as incisive as it is mysterious, Elisa Vix drives her heroine on the trail of a truth that lies in wait to snare her. Twenty-five years are not enough to repair the wounds and the lies. And what if Adèle has been sheltered from these things for her own good? And what if there is no such thing as a family without something to hide? Adèle will go farther than she ever imagined.
So, there you go, pretty standard French detective novel. Maybe a little psychological thriller throw in for good measure.
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Le Chemin de Mère Adèle Garnier by Gianmario Pica
First things first: I did not buy this book. It was handed to me for free by Sister Thomasina of the Tyburn Nuns when we visited the shrine.
But it wound up in my hands (in England), and I will probably crack it open at some point, so I may as well mention it.
Mother Adèle was, of course, the foundress of the congregation, and her cause for canonization has recently been opened; she has formally received the title "Servant of God" as of, oh, about a year ago. This book came out in 2013. Some Googling reveals a few details which the Catholic press found interesting, namely that the foundress is said to have witnessed multiple Eucharistic miracles. But Sister Thomasina hadn't mentioned that to me, stressing instead Mother Adèle's personal holiness and the great gift that is the Martyrs' Shrine.
Here's the brief biography of Mother Adèle on the Tyburn website. I am interested to know more about this woman and her work.
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L'Équation du Nenuphar: Les Plaisirs de la Science, by Albert Jacquard
I stood in the bookstore for a long time with several books by this author in my hand. I was looking for nonfiction essays, and I couldn't decide which of his books to buy.
My eye had lit upon his name as I scanned the "essais" section, because I noticed right away that he appeared to have published books essays on at least two distinct topics: general science and philosophy. The philosophy book was entitled, Petite philosophie à l'usage des non-philosophes, that is, "Little philosophy for non-philosophers." That interested me, because I am not a trained or certified philosopher, but I do my share of philosophizing.
The science book purported to be the sort of thing to demonstrate the beauty and pleasure of science to people who (unlike me) are not trained scientists. So in one sense, the other book was for me, and this book was not for me. But on the other hand, there is the potential to enounter the pleasure of science in French. That would be new. And I like the idea of reading philosophy by scientists, and of studying and performing science with the eye and mind of philosophy --- which is what's necessary to know science's place in the scheme of things.
So I immediately knew I wanted to get one of this guy's books and see what he had to say. It was just a matter of whether to get one, both, or neither. In the end I put down the philosophy book and promised myself I could order it later if the science book made me think I wanted more.
Jacquard, who died in 2013, seems to have been quite the polymath: double baccalaureates in math and philosophy, master's degree in factory engineering from the École Polytechnique, civil servant, additional studies in population genetics and an appointment at the WHO as well as at several universities. He has written numerous works of professional and popular science as well as works of politics and philosophy. I'm interested to meet this author: it may well be that we will have points of difference in our politics, but in any case I should enjoy some of the work I'll have to do to hear him out.
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A Stack of Magazines
Not much to explain here! Most of these are cooking magazines, and one is sort of a French equivalent of Scientific American. I set reminders on my calendar to dole them out to myself at the rate of one every two months.
I do have a couple of other things, namely a couple of cookbooks, but I'll bring those up if and when I ever make some food with them. As I got some interest from these, I will probably attack Et ils eurent beaucoup d'enfants first. I hope to report back with at least a few pages read.