Tuesday, June 19, 2018

Book review of The Lost Vintage by Ann Mah

French Village Diaries book review The Lost Vintage by Ann Mah
The Lost Vintage by Ann Mah


My review today is for The Lost Vintage, the new novel from Ann Mah, released today. 

Set amid the Burgundy vineyards, we meet wine expert Kate, as she heads back to her French roots to study for her Master of Wine exams. While helping with the family harvest, a discovery in the wine cave reveals a fractured family with long-ago buried secrets, and leads to many questions, all needing answers.

In a journal shared only with the reader, we meet Hélène and follow her life through The Occupation. While we know how she suffered, the hardships of daily life, the sacrifices she made and the risks she took, Kate and her family only know the shadow of Hélène that hangs over the older generation. Her life was incredibly sad, and her journal was a very moving account of the war years.

This book is well researched, both in terms of history and wine facts. There is a good mix of characters, some with an edge of mystery, whose actions made me slightly wary; their motives unknown as we wait for them to be revealed. We have a lost love and an awkward reunion, regrets of past decisions and possibilities of future reconciliations. It all flows beautifully, I enjoyed the switch from the journal to the present day and along with the descriptions of the changing seasons in the vineyards, I felt part of their lives.

Being back in France makes Kate question what she really wants from life. Wine is in her blood, but is the Master of Wine part of her future? Can the older generation let go of the past and let the younger ones move the vineyard forward to a brighter future? You’ll certainly have a great read finding out!

I know this book has been many years in the making, but like a good wine, it has only benefitted from this process of maturation. If you enjoy family historical sagas and a good glass or two of French wine, take this book on holiday with you, it won’t disappoint.

The Lost Vintage is out now in ebook format with the hardback and paperback versions available for pre-order on Amazon UK now. You can read my review Ann's Mastering the Art of French Eating here and links to Amazon for both books can be found below.

If you missed Ann’s Lazy Sunday in France guest post and fancy a quick trip to Paris, you can read more here.


Sunday, June 17, 2018

Lazy Sunday in France with author Ann Mah

French Village Diaries #LazySundayInFrance Ann Mah The Lost Vintage
The Lost Vintage by Ann Mah

Welcome to another Lazy Sunday in France, where this week Ann Mah is taking us to Paris for a perfect family day. Ann is the author of Mastering the Art of French Eating, a delicious look at French regional specialities (read my review here) and this week will publish her first novel that is set among the Burgundy vineyards. I’ll be posting my review on Tuesday, but I guess there is no harm in telling you now that it is a beautifully written book, full of long buried family secrets just waiting to be released.
 
French Village Diaries #LazySundayInFrance Ann Mah The Lost Vintage
Ann Mah photo by Katia Grimmer-Laversanne

Lazy Sunday in France by Ann Mah


Sunday morning is my favourite time in Paris especially if my husband has gone out early to pick up croissants or miniature tartes aux pommes from the boulangerie. On a perfect day (which is what this is, right?) we eat them with the windows flung open, accompanied by hot tea and summer peaches, which always taste sweeter and juicier when you can slurp them at leisure. 
 
French Village Diaries #LazySundayInFrance Ann Mah The Lost Vintage
Paris, photo Ann Mah
Sunday mornings are for making lists, which I love to do, poring over beloved cookbooks and deciding what to make my family for dinner. A little later, we’ll take a walk to do our shopping, joining the crowds at the rue Cler and buying enough food to keep us until Tuesday, when these stores will open again. 

Back home again, I spend some time admiring the fruits and vegetables I’ve just bought. The fragrant melons and soft-skinned tomatoes. The length of baguette, the paper-wrapped triangle of cheese, the pink translucent slivers of dry-cured ham are a delicious and easy lunch for three.
 
French Village Diaries #LazySundayInFrance Ann Mah The Lost Vintage
The toy boats at the Luxembourg Gardens


In the afternoon, a walk? A trip to the Luxembourg Gardens, where we sail a small toy boat in the fountain, chasing it around the basin with a stick in our hand? Perhaps a nap on the grass. Or an ice cream? Definitely a cold drink to refresh us before the bus ride home. 

The sun is still bright overhead, but the shadows are lengthening as we near our apartment building. Since this is a perfect Sunday, dinner is already made. I need merely sip a glass of wine while it warms on the stove. After we eat, we’ll put our daughter to bed, pour another glass and chat about the week ahead. The temperature will turn chilly enough for us to burrow under heavy covers. In bed, I read my book and drift to sleep, dreaming of my next Sunday in France, simple but so very sweet. 

Lazy Sunday in France for French Village Diaries.
©AnnMah2018

Don’t forget to join me back here on Tuesday to read my review of The Lost Vintage. You can also read my review of Mastering the Art of French Eating here and read more about why Ann loves France in my France et Moi interview with her here. Links to Amazon for both of her books can be found below.




Friday, June 15, 2018

France et Moi with author Susanne O'Leary

Welcome to ‘France et Moi’ where this week I am talking to author Susanne O’Leary about what France means to her.
 
French Village Diaries #FranceEtMoi interview Susanne O'Leary The Road Trip
Susanne O'Leary
Susanne O’Leary is the bestselling author of more than 20 novels, mainly in the romantic fiction genre. She has also written three crime novels and two in the historical fiction genre. The wife of a former diplomat, she has also been a fitness teacher and a translator. She now writes full-time from either of two locations, a rambling house in County Tipperary, Ireland or a little cottage overlooking the Atlantic in Dingle, County Kerry. When she is not scaling the mountains of said counties, or doing yoga, she keeps writing, producing a book every six months.

1) I think France is a special place and it is famed for many things including its cheese, wine and diverse holiday locations plus, dare I say it strikes and dog poo littered streets. What do you think makes France so very unique and ‘French’?

Susanne: France has a very strong identity, proud of its language and culture. What makes it unique are the age-old traditions and the rhythm of daily life. The queuing for a fresh baguette twice a day, the food market, the patisserie for Sunday lunch, kissing on both cheeks, in short, the very elegance of daily life.  And the chic women, the little boutiques, the strict etiquette when it comes to being polite. Not to mention that blend of coffee, fresh bread, garlic and a whiff of petrol fumes wafting around any French town. It’s a kind of oh-la-la-ness that hits you every time you go there.

2) What is your first memory of a trip to France? 

Susanne: The very first time I went to France, I was 15 and I was staying with a French family in Annecy, Haute Savoie. I was educated in a French lycee in my native Stockholm, so my French was quite good, but being in an all-French speaking environment was new to me. I remember how impressed I was with the beauty of the town and the views of the snow-covered Alps across the lake.

3) You spent four years living in France, can you tell us what the best thing about being immersed in French life was and the scariest thing?

Susanne: The best thing was living in Paris, my favourite city. I swear I woke up every morning with a smile on my face, whispering: ‘I’m in Paris’ to myself. I loved hearing French all around me and having all that French culture on tap, like French movies in the cinema around the corner, the little art galleries and the museums. Also sitting at cafés people-watching and browsing in the quaint shops on the Left Bank. I loved the French countryside too, that ‘Douce France’ kind of living in little villages when we were on holiday.
The scariest thing? Minding two very lively boys and making sure they were safe and I knew where they were at all times. One of my boys, age 10, once got lost cycling through the Bois de Boulogne. I was in bits before we found him. He was completely cool about it and couldn’t understand what the fuss was about.

4) Do you have any top tips for learning French? Or maybe an embarrassing language mishap you are happy to share?

Susanne: I think the best way to start, would be to learn the verbs avoir and être (to have and to be) by heart, and to try your very best to learn French pronunciation. As I started French at a very early age, I think I learnt the language like a child, so it all came gradually with a feel for the language without even thinking about grammar.

5) Imagine you are sitting outside a French café at 10.00am on a sunny morning watching the world go by, what do you order from the waiter?

Susanne: I would order un café crème(aka ‘café au lait’) and a croissant. Love that combination.

6) France has many different cheeses, a silly question, but which French cheese are you? A hard and mature Tome, a soft, fresh and lively goat cheese, the creamy and rich Camembert or maybe the salty and serious Roquefort?

Susanne: Definitively a Reblochon. Hard on the outside, soft and creamy on the inside, with a touch of dangerous bacteria.

7) Every region in France has a culinary specialty, do you have a favourite regional dish? 

Susanne: I love bouillabaisse, that fragrant fish soup from the south of France.

8) France has some beautiful cities and there are a few that constantly battle to be my favourite, what is your favourite French city and why?

Susanne: I adore Paris. I would have loved to have lived there permanently. So many reasons; the food, the culture, the friendly (yes, I swear) people, the buzz and all the different historical parts and museums and art galleries and boutiques and cute restaurants…

9) How does France inspire your writing?

Susanne: First of all, the many beautiful vistas, and then the history and the beautiful architecture. So much more, the air and smells of Provence, the buzz of Paris, the food and wine. The elegance of the women. The handsome men. And the language.

10) With plenty of space and lovely scenery France is a great place to explore. If you were to take a day off from writing where in France would you go?

Susanne: I would go to Provence. Especially Antibes, which has all of the things I love about France, plus the sunshine and the glorious, azure Mediterranean
 
French Village Diaries #FranceEtMoi interview Susanne O'Leary The Road Trip
The Road Trip by Susanne O'Leary
Finally, your latest novel The Road Trip, sees two characters travelling through France in a convertible (my dream holiday), can you let us have a sneak peek at some of the places they visit and things they experience?

Maddy and Leanne have a special dream of driving through Paris in a sports car, like in the song ‘The Ballad of Lucy Jordan’, so they do just that. A snippet:

They continued up Rue de Rivoli, driving slowly, the top down, with Leanne humming the tune of ‘The Ballad of Lucy Jordan’ while she drove. ‘Oh, this is what I dreamed of,’ she said with a blissful smile. ‘I can die happy now.’
‘Thank God for that.’ Maddy managed to take a few shots of Leanne at the wheel with a backdrop of the shopfronts of Rue de Rivoli, and the Luxor Obelisk as they drove across Place de la Concorde. They continued up the Champs-Élysées, around Place Charles de Gaulle, glancing up at the magnificent Arc de Triomphe while all around them traffic roared and car horns tooted.

Then they go and visit the famous cathedral in Chartres which, apart from La Sainte Chapelle in Paris, has the most beautiful stained-glass windows in France. 

The cathedral of Chartres was mind-blowing to Maddy. Not expecting anything more than an old Gothic church, she nearly stopped breathing when she looked up and saw the vast stained-glass windows, their jewel colours glowing in the dim light, throwing splashes of red, green and blue on the stone floor. She had read in the guidebook that the cathedral was built in 1260 on the foundations of an earlier church that had burnt down in the previous century, but she had had no idea of its magnificence. Awestruck, she stood there, looking up and marvelling at the still vivid hues and beautiful shapes.

After that, they head south to Provence, where they stop off first in Orange to see the Roman Theatre, which is truly amazing.

Leanne and Maddy spent an enjoyable half hour walking up and down the different levels of the amphitheatre, amazed at the ancient site and the history behind it. They finally sat down on one of the seats at the very top, looking down at the half circle that made up the front of the theatre. Up here, they were hit by the magnitude of the edifice, and how the stage down there seemed to echo with voices from the past. The sense of history was so strong, they could nearly see ghostly figures in strange costumes moving around, hear the applause from the people on the packed terraces and smell dusty air, thick with atmosphere.

They continue on to Gordes and the lavender fields of the Abbey of Notre Dame de Senanque before they finally arrive in Nice. Then they go to Vence, a little town in the hills above the city, where Leanne’s father has a big villa.

Wow! Thank you for taking the time to answer some questions about France and you and giving us a great teaser for the book.

You can read my review of The Road Trip here and follow Susanne here:

The Road Trip is available in ebook and paperback format and links to Amazon can be found below. If you like to travel in France, you’ll love The Road Trip and it’s currently only 99p for the kindle version – bargain!


Thursday, June 14, 2018

Only in France!

French Village Diaries #OnlyInFrance Bressuire
Bressuire

The school run weather gods have been at it again this week. With Ed boarding during the week, it’s only on a Monday morning that we have an early-start school run, but consistently all winter it was only on Mondays, and when Adrian was away working, that the gods threw down a heavy frost for me to scrape off the windows. It is now June and on the one Monday when Ed had to be in Niort, 60km away, by 8.00am for his English oral Baccalaureate exam, the gods chose rain of biblical proportions, knowing that Adrian was away, and the driving was all down to me.

The 5.30am alarm wasn’t necessary as the thunder woke us both at 5.00am. The only way to reach the car, parked just outside the front gates was by wearing wellies and once I’d moved the car from the lake it was parked in, I still had to find Adrian’s boots in order for Ed to wade through the lake and reach the car. Thankfully we did remember to put his shoes in the car, as I’m not sure it would have done his stress levels much good being the only teenager at the exam wearing his Dad’s wellies.

It poured all the way to Niort. I had no option but to drive through flood water in Chef-Boutonne, where the road was totally submerged, and at one point on the way to Melle, all across the road was a deep brown slick of mud running off the fields. I have never seen weather quite like it, especially in June, and we have been here almost fourteen years.

Thankfully two days after our wet trip to Niort, the sun was out for our 225km round trip to Bressuire for his German oral exam. Yes, only in France would kids be sent from their lycée to another one in the department that is 112km from home, all for a 20-minute oral exam. This distance was way out of my comfort zone, but I took a friend for navigation help (I tried to work the Sat-Nav in Adrian’s car, but I am too much of a womble to get both sound and pictures) and I made sure we left with hours to spare. 

We arrived at the lycée in Bressuire an hour and half early, not bad as we had to navigate a dreaded 'Route Barrée' and 'Deviation' just as we arrived on the outskirts of town. We had time for a leg stretch and maybe even the possibility of finding a quick plat du jour for lunch. Yes and no! After quite a bit of walking all we found were long-ago shut up bars and auberges, so it was back to the car where we tucked into my emergency quiche in the lycée car park (please tell me I’m not the only one who never ventures too far from home without packing an emergency quiche!). 
 
French Village Diaries #OnlyInFrance Bressuire
Being interviewed in Bressuire on the final day of the Tour de Rêves
With Ed safely in his exam, Lesley and I set off once more to explore Bressuire. We walked almost 5km, took some photos, had a tasty ice-cream (don’t tell Ed), but the only bit of Bressuire I’d been to before, a bar we stopped at on our Tour de Rêves bike ride last year, was mysteriously allusive, despite wandering here, there and back again.

Thankfully we didn’t have the four hour wait that I’d had on Monday morning, this time Ed was finished after only an hour, so by 15h we were setting off for the two hour drive home. Just as I was relaxing back into the familiar roads closer to home, almost patting myself on the back at my accomplishments, things up ahead didn’t look quite right. On a straight section of road, a car was on its side, airbags gone off, debris and glass in the road and a real shock to see. It had obviously only just happened as there were other drivers there, and a farmer directing traffic, but the pompiers and gendarmes hadn’t yet arrived on scene. We also found out later that there had been a very nasty accident, just as we were leaving Bressuire, on the road to Parthenay. Although we had arrived on that road, for some reason we came home on the Niort road instead. 

Maybe the gods were on my side after all!

Next week Ed has a full timetable of written exams and then that’s it, he’s finished with school in France. Where have the last fourteen years gone?

Wednesday, June 13, 2018

Book review of The Road Trip by Susanne O'Leary

French Village Diaries book review The Road Trip Susanne O'Leary
The Road Trip by Susanne O'Leary

My review today is for The Road Trip, the latest novel by Susanne O’Leary, released this week.
If you had reached a time in your life when you weren’t happy with the way things were headed and you suddenly had the financial means to escape for a while, and a friend ready to join you, would you go?
This is the situation teacher Maddy finds herself in. Her kids have left home, her husband has a closer relationship with his golf clubs than with her and with the school lottery syndicate hitting the jackpot, she now has 200,000€ of her own, to do with what she chooses. Along with colleague Leanne, they hire a car, buy a designer capsule wardrobe and set off on a road trip from Ireland to the south of France, with lots of places they want to see on the way.
The characters of Maddy and Leanne are full of life with a little Irish mischief and the situations they find themselves in are often unexpected and come with a good pinch of fun and joie de vivre, but there is a touch of seriousness too. It becomes a journey of discovery where they learn a lot about themselves and their families along the way, so much so life will never be the same again, for either of them. They meet the eccentric and the good looking, but more importantly will they find the answers to unanswered questions from long ago?
I read the first half of this book in one sitting, it’s that good I just didn’t want to put it down and I’m so glad to hear there is to be more from Maddy and Leanne, very soon.
The Road Trip is published by Bookouture and is available in ebook and paperback format, links to Amazon can be found below.

Join me back here on Friday when Susanne will be answering my #FranceEtMoi questions.

You can find Susanne on these social media sites: 
Website    
Facebook   

Sunday, June 10, 2018

Lazy Sunday in France, a trip to Melle market

Welcome to another Lazy Sunday in France, where today I am taking you to one of my favourite local markets. 

French Village Diaries #LazySundayinFrance Melle market
Dappled shade at Melle market
The Friday morning market in our local town of Melle used to be a regular feature for us, until three years ago when Ed started at the lycée there. Having driven the 50km round trip on a Monday morning to get him to school, then again on Tuesday evening to collect him for his guitar lesson in Celles-sur-Belle, then back in on Wednesday for another music lesson and once more on a Friday afternoon to collect him from school, an additional drive for market on a Friday morning didn’t seem very appealing.

French Village Diaries #LazySundayinFrance Melle market
Blue sky and clock tower at Melle market
This week however, Adrian was at home, the sun was shining, and I had an unexpected morning off work, (having swapped my Friday morning for a Wednesday morning) which gave me a nice four-day weekend, and I felt like I was on holiday. We decided to treat ourselves to a wander around Melle market and I’m so glad we did, I’ve missed it.

French Village Diaries #LazySundayinFrance Melle market
Inside the Melle market halle
Melle is classified as a Petite Cité de Caractère, a status that is generally awarded to towns, often in rural areas, that have buildings of historical interest, but that over the years have seen a reduction in their administrative function along with the population decline and reduced funding for their heritage that goes along with this. Melle has three magnificent Romanesque churches, is a major point on the Chemin de St Jacques pilgrimage to Santiago de Compostelle in Spain and a very pretty market town that is defiantly worth a visit. 

French Village Diaries #LazySundayinFrance Melle market
Organic wholewheat pasta at Melle market
I hope you enjoy these photos taken on our stroll around market on Friday morning.

French Village Diaries #LazySundayinFrance Melle market
Coffee and patisserie at Café Boulevard in Melle

If you would like to be involved in a future Lazy Sunday in France post, maybe you are a writer, a blogger or run an independent business in France and have something you think would be ideal to be included, please do get in touch.



Friday, June 8, 2018

France et Moi with author Aileen Bordman

Welcome to ‘France et Moi’ where this week I am talking to Everyday Monet author Aileen Bordman about what France means to her.
 
French Village Diaries #FranceEtMoi interview Aileen Bordman Everyday Monet
Aileen Bordman
Aileen Bordman is a filmmaker, author and photographer. She is the president and founder of Monet’s Palate, Inc., a company dedicated to sharing the world of Claude Monet. She is the coauthor (with Derek Fell) of Monet’s Palate Cookbook: The Artist & His Kitchen Garden at Giverny (read my review here). Aileen is also the creator, writer, and producer of the acclaimed documentary film Monet’s Palate: A Gastronomic View from the Garden of Giverny, which was narrated by Meryl Streep.

She has been immersed in the world of Claude Monet since 1980, and her knowledge and passion with respect to Claude Monet's lifestyle, cuisine and gardens is sought worldwide. She lives in New Jersey

Firstly, I think France is a special place and it is famed for many things including its cheese, wine and diverse holiday locations plus, dare I say it strikes and dog poo littered streets. What do you think makes France so very unique and ‘French’?

Aileen: One need only walk the streets of Paris, to realize there is something very unique, special about France. There is a sensibility of style, culture and zest for the best life has to offer.  

2) What is your fondest memory of time spent in France?

Aileen: My earliest and many of the happiest were visiting with our French family. Paris during the 60’s was spectacular, and the family owned vacation homes in Juan-les-Pins, Narbonne, part of the French Riviera, and Le Touquet, where beaches are created each year. Oh, I had my first taste of really good marzipan there.

3) Where did your love of Monet and his garden start? 

Aileen: It started from the moment I set eyes on the magic Monet had created. Truly. I am not alone with respect to this reaction.

4) How does France inspire your writing?

Aileen: That is a really good question. I have often said that France, especially Giverny and Paris, makes me feel more alive. This feeling could only make my writing more passionate. Being in France makes me want to write, to share the beauty and inspirations that feed my soul. 

5) Every region in France has it’s own culinary specialty, do you have a favourite regional dish? 

Aileen: Indeed, Tarte Tatin! And it is very Norman, right down to its buttery crust and luscious apples.

6) Imagine you are sitting outside a French café at 10.00am on a sunny morning watching the world go by, what do you order from the waiter?

Aileen: Honestly, and it’s a tradition for me. Orangina.

7) What is your favourite thing to buy in a Boulangerie/Patisserie? 

Aileen: Pain aux amandes, the perfect almond croissant, my favorite is at Gérard Mulot, on Rue de Seine. 

8) France has many different cheeses, a silly question, but which French cheese are you? A hard and mature tomme, a soft, fresh and lively goat cheese, the creamy and rich Camembert or maybe the salty and serious Roquefort?

Aileen: A lively question, deserves my very goat response.

9) France has some beautiful cities and there are a few that constantly battle to be my favourite, what is your favourite French city and why?

Aileen: Paris, Paris, Paris! The why would require a dissertation. A practical response is that it makes me feel alive. I breathe differently in Paris. That is not an original statement. 

10) You have written two books about Monet, one concentrating on his kitchen garden and the new one showing us all how we can channel our inner Monet in our own homes and gardens, do you have any plans for more Monet inspired projects?

Aileen: I have been so wonderfully immersed in the creation of Everyday Monet, and plan to spend a great deal of time trying to share its contents. The time to think about the next project will present itself at the right time. For now, I am on a mission to share the beauty Monet created at Giverny, and I am so grateful to have these presents books to help me spread the word.

Thank you for taking the time to answer some questions about France and you.
 
French Village Diaries #FranceEtMoi interview Aileen Bordman Everyday Monet
Everyday Monet by Aileen Bordman
You can read my review of Everyday Monet here and if you are looking for a beautiful gift for someone special, I can recommend this book. Links to Amazon for both Aileen’s books can be found below.

Wednesday, June 6, 2018

Book review of Everyday Monet by Aileen Bordman

French Village Diaries book review Everyday Monet by Aileen Bordman
Everyday Monet by Aileen Bordman

My review today is for Everyday Monet, the new release from Aileen Bordman, an author whose passion is to share the beauty of Monet’s home and garden at Giverny with those of us not lucky enough to visit regularly. 

With the help of her Mother Helen Rappel Bordman, who has been directly involved in the restoration of Giverny since 1977, Aileen takes us on a tour of Normandy, Monet’s home and his beloved garden. The idea behind this book is to offer ideas and inspiration on internal decorating, flower arranging, entertaining and gardening, all on a Monet theme. It is packed full of stunning atmospheric shots of Giverny inside and out, lots of historical snippets about Monet and his life, quotes from the man himself and more importantly handy hints about how to recreate a bit of Monet magic in your home. It really lives up to expectations and whatever you are looking for there is something for everyone here, including recipes. 
 
French Village Diaries book review Everyday Monet by Aileen Bordman
My take on a Monet inspired shot!
This book is a beauty and I know I’m not the only one to think so. I’ve let a couple of my friends have a look and it seems this book has a great appeal to both French and British readers. I’ve learned a lot, and feel very honoured to have received a hardback review copy that will have pride of place on our coffee table, and I know that I will continue to enjoy dipping in and out of it for a long time; there is always something that catches my eye.

Everyday Monet is out now in ebook and the hardback will be available from 28th June. It would make a perfect gift for the art lover or Francophile in your life. You can read my review of Aileen's first book Monet’s Palate Cookbook here and links to Amazon for both books can be found below.

I’m also delighted that Aileen will be joining me back here on Friday for my France et Moi feature. 




Tuesday, June 5, 2018

Diary of a bibliothécaire, slipping through my fingers

French Village Diaries diary of a bibliothécaire
At the Niort departmental library
Like the sand in an egg timer, my time as a bibliothécaire is slipping away too quickly. I am now halfway through my four-month contract and eight weeks today I will have locked the door for the final time, and I know that I will miss it.

So much has happened since my last update (sorry), I’m not too sure where to start. Our bilingual story sessions with the local schools have all finished and were great fun for us, and judged to be a success, by the children as well as the teachers. We welcomed nine classes, with children aged from 3 to 10 years and the last class (of older children) arrived by bike, enjoyed a story, chose some books and then set off for a picnic at the local chateau. A perfect day out!
 
French Village Diaries diary of a bibliothécaire
Anuki
We’ve hosted a musical event, where Anuki, a cartoon book, was brought to life by about forty students from the local music school. This was then followed up with an interactive exhibition where children were able to create their own story boards and cartoon drawings, complete magnetic puzzles and learn all about life for a Native American boy. All this goes to show libraries have to be so much more than just places to borrow books from these days, but I still find it sad to see people coming in just to use the computers to play Candy Crush all afternoon, when they are in a room surrounded by so many beautiful books.
 
French Village Diaries diary of a bibliothécaire
New books
Once the children’s animations were finished, we turned our attention to the exciting task of getting our hands on new books. Some of these were borrowed from the department library in Niort, where we went for an afternoon out, and some we have been shopping for at a local book shop. I’ve helped with the research into what’s new on the French scene for this summer and even been allowed to make some of the purchasing choices, which is exciting and scary, especially as in France you can’t always choose based on an appealing cover. One of the popular publishers here only produces books with a plain cream front and no image.
 
French Village Diaries diary of a bibliothécaire
Bernard Simmonet signing our books
We have also had local author Bernard Simmonet pay us a visit, in the hope we would be tempted to buy some of his books. He was friendly, chatty and as his books were crime novels (very popular with our readers) and set in the local area, we bought two. I might even be tempted to give them a go as they are a nice manageable size (my French reading is slow) and I’m always tempted by books set close to home. 
 
French Village Diaries diary of a bibliothécaire
Bernard's books
All the new purchases then need to be entered onto our system, coded, stamped and covered; all tasks that were new to me, but that I am now happy completing without supervision. This, along with my ‘Missions’ from C (working my way through a list of those jobs that no one normally has time to complete) means I am getting to know my way around the software and book shelves, as well as feeling useful. I’ve even been able to help when people have requested a specific book or books on a particular subject and many of the regulars are now friendly faces I recognise and enjoy chatting with. I’ve also been able to indulge in dipping into books on lots of different subjects, whenever I like. Happy days! 

You can read my previous Diary of a bibliothécaire posts here, here, here and here.