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French Novels

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Initial post: 22 Mar 2010 23:08:42 GMT
L. A. Brown says:
Hi, im a 15 year old girl looking to improve my french to make the step from gcse to a level smoother. Any recommendations of easy, french novels would be much appreciated, preferably with a story line and not just another spot the dog! thanks xxx

Posted on 22 Mar 2010 23:24:33 GMT
You can get good bi-lingual Sherlock Holmes books, in French/English, also Harry Potter has good clear translations in French. One advantage to the Harry Potters are there is also MP3 books, to work on your accent as well, (The disadvantage is the price as in English).

Posted on 23 Mar 2010 02:30:47 GMT
Hi - I remember trying to read L'Etranger by Albert Camus in French when I was 16 and understanding a lot of it. It's a French classic - with an existentialist theme and a bit dark but brilliant. Le Grand Meaulnes by Alain Fournier is also pretty simple and a wonderful evocation of a growing up in rural France.

Posted on 23 Mar 2010 08:56:38 GMT
good call, boy bentley, re "grand meaulnes" & "l'étranger", both pretty straightforward reads. would also recommend "un sac de billes" by joseph joffo, the story of 2 jewish boys fleeing across france to escape nazi regime. good luck with the a levels ! "the roots of education are bitter, but the fruits are sweet".

Posted on 23 Mar 2010 21:40:10 GMT
hiljean says:
I beg to differ slightly, and as I am a woman, maybe it's the female perspective! I thought Le Grand Meaulnes was a bizarre and rather boring book. I love Un Sac de Billes (have read it twice, but it's not that easy in terms of vocabulary, but a gripping story nevertheless). I would recommend Bonjour Tristesse and Un Certain Sourire by Francoise Sagan, which are about a teenage girl and are nice and short! All Sagan's novels are short and fairly straightforward (but a bit samey). L'Etranger is OK. It's short and simple in terms of vocabulary, but a bit existentialist and left me cold.

Amelie Nothomb is an interesting writer. Try Antéchrista (teenage heroine), and Stupeur et Tremblements (terribly funny, young girl in Japan struggling to cope with alien culture). Both quite short too.

Posted on 23 Mar 2010 22:15:06 GMT
Rachel says:
i would second Bonjour Trieste by Sagan. I appreciate you have asked for book recommendations but as a left field suggestion, the very best language resource i have found is the 'earworms accelerated learning' CD's- available from Amazon and to pop onto am MP3 player. Sometimes their own website has good deals if you buy direct. I taught myself Italian from these and they are incredibly cleverly crafted to sink into your subconscious. Highly recommended for enhancing language learning and not boring like most language cd's. Alternatively, try renting or buying some french language films and watching them with the subtitle option off, to supplement the reading.

Posted on 23 Mar 2010 22:41:43 GMT
L. A. Brown says:
thanks a lot for all the fab suggestions and so quick as well! i will definately research into them, want to be able to read a french book without having to look up every other word in the dictionary! think the cds adn films also sound good so thanks everyone for the suggestions - keep them coming? know of any romances? since french is the language of love and i do love romances!

Posted on 24 Mar 2010 10:47:24 GMT
I really loved Rue des Boutiques Obscures by Patrick Modiano, although I read it at University in 3rd year I think. The language is not too difficult from what I remember, and although it is not a romance, it is a real mystery novel which keeps you gripped even though you may not know every single word. I would also recommend the translations of Harry Potter, especially if you already know the story in English, it makes it easy to follow and yu will be able to make educated guesses at the vocab.

Posted on 25 Mar 2010 17:39:18 GMT
Jay says:
Maupassant's stuff is good, but I'm not sure how easy it is.

Posted on 25 Mar 2010 17:54:24 GMT
Jay says:
I tried to 'search inside' on Amazon France, but Bonjour Tristesse seemed to be coming up in English. Then I looked for foreign language books on Amazon UK, but there don't seem to be any 'search inside'. Perhaps you could look at the English translations to see what sort of level they're at.

Posted on 25 Mar 2010 19:08:25 GMT
[Deleted by the author on 25 Mar 2010 19:09:23 GMT]

Posted on 25 Mar 2010 19:22:31 GMT
monica says:
Jay, I found the same thing. Les Grands Meaulnes didn't have a search-inside option, so I tried Colette. (I am certainly not recommending her, just typed the name out of laziness.) This time the extract was in French. L.A., Jay's idea is a good one, so you might want to see if you can get French extracts from the books recommended here on the French site. Haven't read him in French, and haven't read any of the Maigret books, but Simenon's romans durs might be suitable.

Posted on 26 Mar 2010 08:07:13 GMT
Jay says:
I've got two Maigret books:

Maigret se fâche (plus) La pipe de Maigret
Maigret et les témoins récalcitrants.

The titles should give you an idea.

In reply to an earlier post on 26 Mar 2010 14:06:36 GMT
L. M. Monk says:
Many suggestions can be found here:

Posted on 26 Mar 2010 17:04:53 GMT
ajk77 says:
Plays can be a good option - you get text in smallish bites and without complex descriptions, but it has to be modern ones (the old verse ones are hard).

I suggest:

Jean Anouilh: Antigone
Albert Camus: Caligula
Eugene Ionesco: Rhinoceros
Jean-Paul Sartre: Huis Clos

In reply to an earlier post on 26 Mar 2010 18:37:58 GMT
Roisin says:
I also immediately thought of Bonjour Tristesse by Francoise Sagan. Not too long and about a seventeen year old. L'Etranger by Albert Camus - also previously suggested is another good choice. Or - another left field suggestion - you could try an Agatha Christie translated into French. Bonne chance!

Posted on 26 Mar 2010 18:40:40 GMT
monica says:
Just one more from me--Rochefoucauld's Maxims. Not a novel, of course, but the language is simple and straightforward. And in a way, the absence of a storyline is an advantage: If you find it difficult to understand on maxim, you can simply move on to the next without missing a vital element.

Posted on 24 Apr 2010 22:33:56 BDT
R. McAdams says:
You can buy french books on, and french editions often have huge dossiers in the back to help you understand the book and its context better. I would definitely suggest Bonjour Tristesse and Le Grand Meaulnes, maybe also Arsene Lupin. Also Pagnol- La Gloire de Mon Pere/ La Chateau de ma Mere (if you dont mind looking up some of the obscure Provencal words) are fairly short and charming, and also L'elegance du herisson is worth a read. Romance-wise, I would recommend Un Page d'Amour (Zola) or La Dame aux Camelias (Dumas fils).

Posted on 25 Apr 2010 11:17:26 BDT
good call, a. re pagnol, both of these autobiographies are excellent & relatively straightforward. see also "jean de florette" & "manon des sources". are there that many "obscure Provençal words" ? can you recall any examples ? down here where i live you do get the occasional bit of Provençal slang e.g. "fada" & "morfler".

Posted on 25 Apr 2010 13:50:22 BDT
Sarah says:
I think you might enjoy "Le gone du chaaba" by Azouz Begag. It's about a young boy growing up in an immigrant family in France. I read it when doing an Open University course and loved it. It's quite short (like Bonjour tristesse - another coming of age novel I would strongly recommend) but funny and touching.

In reply to an earlier post on 25 Apr 2010 16:39:40 BDT
Gilch says:
Emile Zola's books are full of life and love and are exciting page turners. I've just recommended him to my 17 yr old daughter who loves the Twilight books. They have also been translated into English so another way of approaching the task is to read in English first and then re-read in French. Once you've got an idea of the story it'll probably be easier to guess some of the words you're unsure of in French. Good luck.

Posted on 25 Apr 2010 22:33:34 BDT
I'd recommend the author Claude Michelet who has written a fabulous trilogy set in the Correze area of France. Published in English as well as French I gather he is a national hero in France.

Claude Michelet Omnibus: Firelight and Woodsmoke; Applewood; Scent of Herbs

Posted on 26 Apr 2010 09:42:20 BDT
M.S. says:
Therese Desqueyroux by Francois Mauriac - I read it as an A Level text many, many, many, many... years ago - and have never forgotten it or the heroine Therese. Ahhh...

Posted on 26 Apr 2010 12:03:18 BDT
shell says:
to go a little bit off the subject L.Brown (sorry i dont know any french books and i'm so jealous you can speak french this good at 15,lol), this reminds me of when i went to arabic lessons (my partners first language) and the tutor sent us a task of going to the library and trying to find your favourite book in arabic, and yes i found pride and predjudice in arabic, i was over the moon (i still am nowhere near that level of reading as the lessons have ceased unfortunately) but it did give me something to attain to. you probably have been to the library L.Brown but make sure you also ask the librarians advice they have a wealth of knowledge and could point some out to you.

Posted on 26 Apr 2010 12:43:54 BDT
ajk77 says:
For French books, there's always if you can't find what you want here...
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Discussion in:  fiction discussion forum
Participants:  21
Total posts:  28
Initial post:  22 Mar 2010
Latest post:  8 Jul 2011

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