Tag Archives: France

Another book about the Inquisition in France…imagine!

5 Dec

A few weeks ago, I wrote about The Passion of Dolssa, which was set in France in the 13th century. Narrated in multiple voices, it told the story of a girl pursued by the Inquisition in France.

And here I am again, writing about a very different book.  The Inquisitor’s Tale, Or, The Three  Magical Children and Their Holy Dog by Adam Gidwitz.


It is set in France in the 13th century. Narrated in multiple voices, it tells the story of a girl, two boys and a dog pursued by the Inquisition in France.

This book is for a middle grade audience and has some funny features, including a farting dragon. But it also treats serious themes.

Publisher’s Summary: 1242. On a dark night, travelers from across France cross paths at an inn and begin to tell stories of three children. Their adventures take them on a chase through France: they are taken captive by knights, sit alongside a king, and save the land from a farting dragon. On the run to escape prejudice and persecution and save precious and holy texts from being burned, their quest drives them forward to a final showdown at Mont Saint-Michel, where all will come to question if these children can perform the miracles of saints.

Join William, an oblate on a mission from his monastery; Jacob, a Jewish boy who has fled his burning village; and Jeanne, a peasant girl who hides her prophetic visions. They are accompanied by Jeanne’s loyal greyhound, Gwenforte . . . recently brought back from the dead. Told in multiple voices, in a style reminiscent of The Canterbury Tales, our narrator collects their stories and the saga of these three unlikely allies begins to come together.

Beloved bestselling author Adam Gidwitz makes his long-awaited return with his first new world since his hilarious and critically acclaimed Grimm series. Featuring manuscript illuminations throughout by illustrator Hatem Aly and filled with Adam’s trademark style and humor, The Inquisitor’s Tale is bold storytelling that’s richly researched and adventure-packed.

As with The Passion of Dolssa, I found that it took a few chapters to get into the book, but it was well worth the effort. The book includes a detailed historical note and bibliography.

Going Back in Time

20 Oct

The last book I reviewed, The Mark of the Plague, was set in the mid 17th century. As a lover of historical fiction, it was a delight to read a book set in a time period that rarely appears in kid lit. Today’s book, The Passion of Dolssa,  by Julie Berry is set even further back in time.


Publisher’s Summary: Buried deep within the archives of a convent in medieval France is an untold story of love, loss, and wonder and the two girls at the heart of it all.

The book to graphic novel phenomenon

17 Jan

Several years ago, I read Suite Française by Irène Némirovsky, who was born in Kiev in 1903, but fled to France with her family in 1917. The novel is made up of the first two parts of a planned five-part novel that was never finished because Némirovsky was arrested by the Germans and died in Auschwitz in 1942.


I recently discovered that Part I, Storm in June,  has been turned into a graphic novel by Emmanuel Moynot, a graphic artist and the author of more than 40 graphic novels published in France.


Publisher’s Summary:A stirring graphic novel based on the extraordinary book by Irene Nemirovsky.

Suite Française, an extraordinary novel about village life in France just as it was plunged into chaos with the German invasion of 1940, was a publishing sensation ten years ago; Irene Nemirovsky completed the two-volume book, part of a planned larger series, in the early 1940s before she was arrested in France and eventually sent to Auschwitz, where she died. The notebook containing the novels was preserved by her daughters but not examined until 1998; it was finally published in France in 2004 and became a huge international bestseller, including in North America, where it has sold over 1 million copies.

This dramatic and stirring graphic novel, translated from the French and faithful to the spirit of Nemirovsky’s story, focuses on Book 1, entitled “Storm in June,” in which a disparate group of Paris citizens flees the city ahead of the advancing German troops. However, their orderly plans to escape are eclipsed by the chaos spreading across the country, and their sense of civility and well-being is replaced by a raw desire to survive.

This is an excellent retelling of the first part of Némirovsky’s novel. The use of black and white drawings gives the feel of a 1940’s movie about WWII. It also captures the bleakness of the situation.


Books to graphic novels is a trend that seems to be increasing. Several children’s and YA series have gone this route, including

  •  Percy Jackson series by Rick Riordan
  • The Infernal Devices and The Mortal Instruments series by Cassandra Clare
  • The Twilight series by Stephanie Meyer
  • The Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children series by Ransome Riggs

Classics by authors such as Jane Austen and Sir Arthur Conan Doyle have also been turned into graphic novels, as has the very popular Game of Thrones  series. I think the are both excellent and worrisome things about this trend, but, as a reader, I don’t mind taking a little break with a graphic novel from time to time.


3 Sep

As I work my way through the Jacky Faber  audiobooks (I’m on #6 now and still loving the series) I can’t help but remark on how Jacky always refers to other girls as “sister”.  Sisterhood is a funny thing. This little ditty sums it up quite nicely.

I recently read  I Love, I Hate, I Miss My Sister  by Amélie Sarn, which was originally published in France, but has recently been translated into English and published in the US.


This not as amusing a story as the Hanes’ sisters song. Based on real events in France, it tells the story of two girls of Algerian descent, Djelila and Sohane, born & raised in France. it skips back and forth in time to gently peel away the layers of the tragedy. Djelila wants to be French, playing basketball, staying out late, distancing herself from her family and their traditional views. Sohane is more traditional, but wants to be part of both worlds. She wants to go to college and get away from their tough predominantly Muslim neighborhood, but reads the Koran and goes to the mosque and thinks her younger sister should be more respectful. They love each other, but have such different world views and Sohane keeps a watch over her sister, trying to keep her safe from rough characters who bully her sister for her non-conformity. When Sohane decides to start wearing a head scarf, in spite of the recent passage of a law banning such things at public schools, Djelila supports her right to do so, but thinks she is misguided.

What I really liked about the book is that it doesn’t present each girls decision as right or wrong. The arguments for each side are laid out in a natural way and the reader can really see each side’s point of view. We often look at these issues in such a black and white way. This book shows us the grey and the hard choices people have to make when cultures collide.

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