Paris, 1823

The Thursday Murder Club was so lovely. Self finished reading it yesterday. The ending was bittersweet. But her favorite characters are still alive. So, conceivably, there might be a follow-up.

What she appreciated most of all about TTMC was its tone. The slyness, the wry detachment with which human failings and affairs of the heart were viewed. Oh, of course there was heartache. But there was no angst.

Now, she is reading a book about the English aristocracy in the first half of the nineteenth century. This was the class that produced the officers who ordered the disastrous Charge of the Light Brigade at Balaclava, in the Crimea. Hence, the title of the book (taken from the Alfred, Lord Tennsyon poem about the battle): The Reason Why. Of course, we must get to know all about this class. One of the major players was James, the Seventh Earl of Cardigan.

Young, handsome, prevented from joining the Army because he was his parents’ only male heir, he

had taken to spending a considerable amount of time in Paris. The pleasures which Paris offers, her elegance, the refinement of her luxury, had never been in sharper contrast to London than in 1823. Paris had invented the restaurant, and in place of the rough, bawling, steamy eating-houses of London were novel resorts with wood fires, thick carpets, snowy table-cloths. In place of the gargantuan excesses of the Regency, tables groaning under a mass of food, diners pouring bottle after bottle down their throats until they slid under the table, eating and drinking were raised to a delicate art. The city itself was still intricate, fantastic, and medieval.

The Reason Why, by Cecil Woodham-Smith, pp. 10-11

Thursday Trios: CHAIRS

YAY! Self is joining another Thursday Trios Challenge!

Lately, self has been reminiscing a lot about Paris.

Not that she’s thinking of making that her next trip, necessarily. But she was there in 2017, right after the Former Guy pulled out of the Paris Climate Accords, and all of Paris was agog.

In retrospect, that was a peaceful time.

Here are some trios from that trip: The first two are from the park next to the Musée de l’Orangerie. The last picture is from Fontainbleau.

The Reading Year (So Far, 2021)

From wsj’s Best Books of 2020/Science Fiction:

  • The Relentless Moon, by Mary Robinette Kowal – So far, one of the best novels she’s read in 2021
  • Ballistic Kiss, by Richard Kadrey – wildly inventive, self wasn’t so taken with the he/she/they gender politics of a major character

In a category by itself:

  • Dark, Salt, Clear, by Lamorna Ash — A first book by a 22-year-old, E.S.A.D.

Kick-Ass Discovery of the Year:

  • Eddie’s Boy, by Thomas Perry, the sequel to a 1982 novel, The Butcher’s Boy – That’s chutzpah, coming up with a sequel 40 years later. Kudos! Self added The Butcher’s Boy to her reading list.

from wsj’s Best Books of 2020/Mysteries:

  • All the Devils Are Here, by Louise Penny — Self adored Jean-Guy Beauvoir and of course Paris.
  • One Fatal Flaw, by Anne Perry — All hail the May-December almost-romance between 25-year-old Daniel Pitt and 40-year-old Miriam Crofft, daughter of his employer.

from The Economist’s Books of the Year 2020/Memoir

  • A Promised Land, by Barack Obama — Beautifully written, can’t believe 45 was succeeded by Drumpf.

from The Economist’s Books of the Year 2020/Fiction

  • SHUGGIE BAIN, by Douglas Stuart — an absolutely immersive experience, though her favorite character was not the title character but his unheralded older brother, Leek

from The Economist’s Books of the Year 2020/Business and Economics

  • No Rules Rules — This one was a disappointment.

from wsj’s Books of the Year 2020/Travels in the New North

  • Ice Walker, by James Raffan — another absolutely immersive experience, the ending almost broke self.

from Jonathan Strahan’s Notes from a Year Spent Indoors (Locus Magazine)

  • the first two books in Joe Abercrombie’s (smashing) Age of Madness trilogy and her first Grimdark: A Little Hatred and The Trouble with Peace

Paris, December 2017

A young couple from China asked self to take their picture, and then returned the favor by taking one of self. So here’s that very, very rare occasion when she is actually IN the picture, rather than just TAKING a picture.

She’s wearing that same exact scarf right now, since she’s been feeling chilled all afternoon. Instead of a coat, she’s wearing a flannel nightgown — hello, pandemic self! She put on her nightgown hours ago, preparatory to spending the rest of the day reading in bed. She feels like she might be coming down with something, but she can’t blame it on Pfizer 1, received Saturday: she’s felt this way for weeks. All Pfizer 1 did was exacerbate those symptoms.

Now her left arm aches. That’s where she got her shot, but it hasn’t ached since the day of. A kind of phantom pain?

Around them, floodlights lit up the magnificent monuments. Vehicles passed by. Distinctive French sirens sounded in the distance. Visitors took selfies in front of the statues.

Armand heard snippets of conversation and bursts of laughter.

All the Devils Are Here, p. 347

Back to the Hotel George V, Paris, Room 815

Inspector Armand Gamache discourages his protégé Jean-Guy Beauvoir (married to Gamache’s daughter, and all conveniently in Paris at the time the events in the book unfold, que c’est magnifique!) from ordering a club sandwich.

LOL

LOL

LOL

What’s Not To Love?

All the Devils Are Here is great: It’s got Paris. It’s got angst. It’s got the son who thinks his father doesn’t love him. It’s got the deputy married to his boss’s daughter (How did that relationship come about? Self wants to know the backstory). It’s got loads of wit. Did self already say this? She’ll say again: It’s got Paris.

Now self knows that the Sixth Arrondissement — hello — is so much classier than the Seventh Arrondissement. A three-bedroom apartment in the Sixth will run you “several million euros.”

Stay safe, dear blog readers. Stay safe.

LOL Louise Penny!

Self loves a writer with a good sense of humor.

The following conversation made her laugh out loud:

Setting: a Parisian parfumerie

Reine-Marie, Inspector Armand Gamache’s wife, is trying to help her husband find a murderer. Since this is Paris, the men wear cologne. (Although, if you were a murderer, wouldn’t you prefer to skip this step. Just sayin’)

“May I help you, madame?” a young man asked.

“I’m trying to find a cologne. I smelled it recently but don’t know the name,” Reine-Marie said.

Young Man: “Not to worry. I love this sort of thing. Now, are you sure it was a man’s cologne and not a woman’s?”

Reine-Marie: “Absolutely.”

Young Man: “Bon. That helps . . . Can you describe it? Was it earthy? Did it smell like moss or bark? Lots of men’s fragrances do. They think it’s masculine.”

Reine-Marie: “No. It was lighter than that.”

Young Man: “Fruity?”

Reine-Marie: “Non.”

Young Man: “Citrusy?”

Reine-Marie: “Yes.”

Young Man: “Good.”

Reine-Marie: “Maybe a little woody.”

Young Man: “Okay.”

Reine-Marie: “With a kind of chemical-y smell?”

Young Man: “Are you asking me?”

Reine-Marie: “Telling?”

Young Man: “It seems we’re looking for a lemon tree made out of plastic. It’s a good thing you’re not trying to sell fragrances, madame.”

How To Look Like You Belong, in Hotel George V, Room 815, Paris

First, don’t ask for directions, just head on up to the room in question. And don’t fuss too much at the door to the suite. Just go right in.

A hotel maid will pass you in the hallway, she will glance at you but keep on walking. Expect the hotel manager in 10 minutes.

When the hotel manager lets himself into the suite (accompanied by “muscle” of course, this is a five-star Parisian hotel! Rooms cost upwards of $1000/night!), you will say, “Bonjour!” You will introduce yourself, you will say you’re a friend of whoever, and you will demand, DEMAND, the name of the manager, and then you will ask to see his ID.

Bearing, bearing is absolutely important.

Also, a silk scarf.

If it is autumn, then a beautiful autumn coat.

Just think “classic.” Be “cordial, but aloof.”

After all that, I’m sorry to say the manager will probably say something rude like “I would like to see what you’ve taken from the suite” and also mention the “small issue of” the bill.

You should say, “Of course!” And hand over your credit card.

And then you must keep smiling, even when they charge “three-thousand five-hundred euros. A night.”

Stay safe, dear blog readers. Stay safe.

All the Devils are Here

On p. 25, a character looks out her office window and can “see the Tour Eiffel in the distance.” She calls it

A marvel of French engineering. A monument to innovation and audacity. Something to be proud of.

————————————————————–

Paris, A Memory:

One night in December 2017, self made an appointment to see a doctor. It was around 8 p.m. Her hotel called a cab, and the cab waited for her. On the way back, she asked the driver to circle the Eiffel.

There is something about the Eiffel Tower at NIGHT. Lit up, you notice every single strut.

She was practically hanging out the window, and managed to squeeze out a dozen shots.

There is no stopping at the base of the tower: traffic has to keep circling. It is truly a hub of frenetic activity. All gratitude to the patient Parisian cab driver.

Stay safe, dear blog readers. Stay safe.

From Grimdark to Louise Penny

Is quite a leap, self is sure dear blog readers will agree.

Just this morning, we were in bloody Valbeck, but now we are in oh-so-refined Paris, in a gracious building in the Seventh Arrondissement . . .

Hello, Book # 16 of the Inspector Armand Gamache series, All the Devils Are Here.

Post-dinner, self curls up in bed with two books. One of these will be her next read. She’s indecisive like that.

Stay safe, dear blog readers. Stay safe.

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