Maroh, Julie. Blue Is the Warmest Color.

Vancouver, BC: Arsenal Pulp Press, 2013.

This is the original graphic novel that was subsequently made into a Palm-d’Or-winning film at Cannes, and it tells a moving and tragic love story by means of some truly beautiful artwork. Clementine is a typical secondary school student in France, trying to figure out guys, hanging out with her girlfriends and also her best guy friend, who is gay, and just generally living her life.


Goetzinger, Annie. Girl in Dior.

NY: NBM Publishing, 2013.

This nicely drawn graphic novel is interesting for its artwork, which celebrates the last ten years of Christian Dior, a revolutionary postwar high fashion, but it’s rather a disappointment in its storytelling. The narrator is the young (and fictional) Clare Nohant, daughter and granddaughter of professional seamstresses in the fashion world, and a would-be fashion journalist.


Published in: on 25 July 2019 at 5:56 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Edmondson, Elizabeth. Finding Philippe.

London: Hodder & Stoughton, 2001.

This late author produced a series of very enjoyable romance-mystery-thriller novels, all set in the immediate post-World War II period in Britain — though it somewhat pains me to think of a story set in my own lifetime as “historical fiction” — and this was one of the few I hadn’t previously read.


Bagieu, Penelope. Exquisite Corpse.

NY: First Second, 2015.

Bagieu is a relatively new French graphic novelist with a not-huge output, but she has already made her mark among both readers and critics. Zoe is a Parisian in her early 20s, working as a spokesmodel at auto shows, and introducing new brands of cheese, and whatever else turns up. Not much of a job but it’s a living. Except then she has to go home to her slobbish skinhead boyfriend, who always leaves his socks on when they have sex.


Published in: on 30 January 2018 at 7:22 am  Leave a Comment  
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Harris, Robert. An Officer and a Spy.

NY: Knopf, 2013.

Harris is very good at thoughtful, carefully researched historical novels, whether they’re set in ancient Rome or in the 20th century. This time, he undertakes to tell the story of Alfred Dreyfus, Alsatian Jew and captain in the French army in the 1890s, who was accused and convicted of treason — spying for the Germans — and who was packed off to Devil’s Island (reopened especially for him) as an object lesson to everyone else.


Bowen, Rhys. Naughty in Nice.

NY: Berkeley, 2011.

Lady Georgiana Rannoch is thirty-fourth in line for the British throne but the fact that she’s a card-carrying aristocrat doesn’t means she’s wealthy, or even eating regularly — especially since it’s late winter 1933 and nearly everyone, including her, is out of work. (Not that her toffee-nosed relatives approve of her working in the first place, of course.)


Forester, C. S. Lord Hornblower.

Boston: Little, Brown, 1946.

It’s 1813 and Captain Horatio Hornblower has finally recuperated from the cholera that laid him low at the end of his tenure as commodore in the Baltic. He’s been enjoying the time at home in Smallbridge with his wife and son, but he’s also getting restless. Then the First Lord comes to his rescue by sending him off to deal with the mutinous crew of a brig in the harbor of Le Havre, the result of a tyrannical and viciously cruel commanding officer.


Kent, Alexander. To Glory We Steer.

NY: Putnam, 1968.

By internal chronology, this book ended up being the fifth in the lengthy series featuring Richard Bolitho of the Royal Navy, but it was actually the first one written, so this is where the author (who was really Douglas Reeman) first delineated the major continuing characters. Kent/Reeman was already well known for his World War II naval thrillers, but this was his first venture into earlier history and he nailed it from the outset. (more…)

Published in: on 1 October 2015 at 2:16 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Forester, C. S. Commodore Hornblower.

Boston: Little, Brown, 1945.

It’s 1812 and Captain Sir Horatio Hornblower has been ashore for six months. He’s the new squire of Smallbridge and that life is beginning to chafe. Then he’s called to the Admiralty and offered a commodore’s job — first-class with a broad pennant, like a temporary, small-scale admiral. Napoleon is contemplating an invasion of Russia but the Czar wants to avoid a fight.


Forester, C. S. Hornblower During the Crisis.

Boston: Little, Brown, 1967.

Captain Jack Aubrey is widely considered the “best” Royal Navy hero of the Napoleonic wars these days, and he might well be (those books are amazing), but for modern readers over forty, Horatio Hornblower is where it all began. It certainly did for me, when I began reading my father’s collection as an adventure-addicted adolescent back in the ‘50s.