Tag Archives: french authors

Bestselling French Novel, The Rocheforts by Christian Laborie, Translated to English: Sweeping Family Saga of Industrialist in Early 1900s

rocheforts-cover

The Rocheforts, Information~

by Christian Laborie

(fiction / saga)

Release date: May 5, 2015

from Open Road Integrated Media

484 pages

ISBN: 978-1-4804-6120-8

Goodreads

Synopsis~

Two very different families are bonded by scandal in this sweeping story of love, greed, and betrayal.

Anselme Rochefort has built an empire manufacturing serge de Nîmes, or denim. His biggest client? Levi Strauss. As the craze for blue jeans begins to sweep the globe, Rochefort Industries seems poised for untold success. But Anselme can be as cruel and ruthless with his family as he is in business.

The Rocheforts’ neighbor Donatien Rouvière has one of the region’s most prosperous farms and is desperate for a son to carry on his legacy. After the births of three daughters, the Rouvières adopt an orphan from the Sisters of Charity convent and raise him as their own.

When Anselme suggests uniting the two families by arranging for their children to marry, it seems like the perfect match. But as the lives of the two clans grow increasingly intertwined, dark secrets come to light, including the mysterious circumstances of the death of Anselme’s eldest daughter.

With The Rocheforts, Christian Laborie weaves a captivating tale of deceit, intrigue, and the dynamic tension between industrialization and a way of life rooted in the land.

Review~

I really love a good family saga, or this case, an epic saga at almost 500 pages. Don’t let the length deter you though, as you might not even feel like it’s such a length once you start flipping the screen pages. It’s a translated novel, from French to English, and the author’s first English novel. But he’s an author of many other novels in France. Possibly with a writing-style much like most foreign authors, in which they tend to tell their story and be less visual, or maybe due to it being translated, it could be a bit more stiff rather than showy; however, I feel that it still is very readable as the character drama propels the reader.

I used to love to watch the old family style sweeping historical mini-series showings on Masterpiece Theater, or other like channels, when I was a child. I still love them. But I do like books even better. Something about them really captivates me, as I enjoy reading of these rich and prosperous or such families in history. When I read the synopsis for this one, in which the family of Rocheforts, who live in de Nimes (and make denim, isn’t that cool where the word comes from?), and of the Rouvière,who are their farming neighbors, I was entranced already. I continued to be delighted upon reading. The novel takes us from 1898 and 30 years past, into the effects of World War I and the financial crash. We see the marriage of children in the family, adoptions, deaths, and the many facets of the political and social upheavals this time period brings.

It also has some suspense at the beginning, which created a few mysteries, but one that wasn’t too difficult to figure out or was the main basis of the book. It was character and drama driven with good research into the history of the time period. It told of romance, economic class struggles, family issues, murder and mystery, politics, and industry. I thought it was interesting how all five Rochefort children had such different personalities and were all well-developed–some liked, some not. The character of the Rochefort patriarch was strong, as he was owner of the legacy and fortune (passed to him from his father), and also with one of his sons to whom he passed down his cold demeanor, and we see his terrible personality unfold as he strives to put back together a family fortune and reputation he’s all but lost.

I did especially enjoy the sections on the textiles and denim, though, which was their business. The juxtaposition of the Rochefort’s industrial life was contrasted well against the life of the other family, who made their money off the land. We could easily see how personalities are made or changed with wealth sometimes and we see how intertwining such families really could cause future issues. Yet, we also see shining light of how it could work as well.

There truly was so much happening in this novel, with twists and turns in regard to family and life struggles, so that the book was easy to remain attached to and that helped propel me through the novel. I love reading family histories, especially during this time period of major industrial and financial change.

I’m not sure when this was originally published, but it reads like those wonderful family sagas from decades ago. I miss those, with the writing today that is so action focused. There is something to be said about this type of book. It had a vintage historical feel that I really liked and I enjoyed being able to slow down and read this book over time, without losing any momentum on it.

I would highly recommend this book if you like dramatic familial novels, showing decades of ancestors with all their secrets, lies, and anguish. Personally, I love books about turn-of-the-century industrialists and how they lived, so I really liked this one. I can fully see why this novel was a best-seller when it first published in France.

Author Christian Laborie, Biography~

Rocheforts - Laborie

Christian Laborie was born in the North of France, but has lived in the southern region of Cévennes for more than twenty years. The Rocheforts is his first novel to be published in English.

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Giveaway~

You can enter the global giveaway at the Entry-Form link below or on any other book blogs participating in this tour.
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5 winners will receive 1 digital copy of The Rocheforts

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Cognac Conspiracies is Another Great Edition to Winemaker Detective Series, Based on French Television Show

cognac-conspiracies-coverReview~
Read below for excerpt and giveaway!

Last month I read a really fun mystery that is outside of my element, but something about the words “France” and “Cognac” drew me in and made me curious! I always love a good foreign mystery. I hadn’t realized at first that it was a series, with the others featuring wine in their mysteries, or even that it’s a popular TV mystery series abroad! However, I can see how this would make a great French TV series, full of dramatic flair and a likable wine expert turned amateur detective named Benjamin Cooker and his side-kick, handsome and astute Virgile. Cognac Conspiracies is book five in what looks to be a twenty-part mystery series based on the television show.

It’s a pretty slim book, compared to novels that I generally read, so it doesn’t go too far in-depth with various outside plots, but rather, takes the reader on an interesting meandering ruse through the business world and history of cognac. During the reading, the mystery seeps slowly in, and though short on pages, it still had time for multiple twists and turns that kept me guessing. It did visualize as a television episode to me, which I loved. Some of the back story, as on TV, featured relations or issues in Cooker’s own life. As an American, I loved getting my fix for foreign TV through this book.

There is a good balance between character development, plot, and mystery, as well as dining with cognac, but from what I’ve heard of the other mysteries, I think there was a little less dining on delectable foods in this novel, but it did feature a few areas, so no worries!

The novel made up for this with its wonderful description of cognac, especially the various types of cognac and how they are made with herbs and flowers. I was pleasantly surprised by this practice, which reminded me of fragrance-making, and I could almost smell the various types of brandy and feel the liquor melt on my tongue; the details opened my senses. Cognac certainly held its own for me against the other wines featured in previous mysteries, as I am sure it does in its wine-making region as well, which was the area featured in this novel.

The authors really focused on grand descriptions of the river and village and countryside that were very lovely, as well as their character development of the supporting cast. They were smart, sly, conflicted, and quite often scandalous, which of course, make for good TV murder mysteries and follow through with the books as well. Anyone could have “who-done-it” and we feel suspicious of them all. There is an air of intrigue, deceit, and suspense that makes you anxious to the turn the pages.

This novel is an entertaining petite paperback, or a quick electronic read, and is just perfect for when you have a few hours during a train or airplane ride in which you wish to escape reality. Or maybe you need a free evening at home by the fireplace, glass in hand, in which to escape to the French countryside? I know I can’t wait to get my hands on the rest of this series!

Read an excerpt!

“Pierre Lavoisier. Mr. Cooker, I presume?” Benjamin shook his hand and said, “This is my associate, Virgile Lanssien.”

The man, who appeared to be in his forties, adjusted his gold-rimmed glasses and gave the winemaker’s assistant a thorough look-over before moving his lips almost imperceptibly. It was difficult to tell whether he was smiling or brooding.“ Beauty is the promise of happiness, is it not?” “That’s exactly what Stendhal said,” replied Benjamin, always confident of his literary knowledge.

Pierre Lavoisier began to tremble ever so slightly, and sweat beads formed on his forehead. So, Benjamin thought, he didn’t know how to play this game. Arrogance was not his métier, much less pedantry.

“My sister will see you, if you will kindly wait here,” was all that he said before leaving. “Have a seat, please.”

“We’re not really tired,” Benjamin responded as he inspected a large lithograph of Jarnac in 1830.

The winemaker, a connoisseur of antiques and an occasional historian, reached for his glasses. With great interest, he examined this panoramic view of a former chateau, which had been sacrificed for a suspension bridge spanning the Charente River. On the embankments, imposing homes reflected the good fortune of their owners. Along the river’s edge, only a few trees dared totip their boughs, lest they hinder the passage ofthe barges. Benjamin took a few steps back to better appreciate it and then turned his attention to a family photo. He recognized Pierre, standing proudly next to a beautiful woman with blonde hair. Seated in front of them was an elderly man—presumably the patriarch. Off to one sidewas another man, whom Benjamin presumed was the infamous Claude-Henri.

“Strange, very strange,” Benjamin mumbled.

Virgile wasn’t paying much attention. He was busy staring out the window at this Pierre, who had undressed him with his eyes, like a slave trader.“There’s something suspicious about him.”

“What’s that, my boy?”

“I’m saying that he’s strange, too.”

“Who?”

The door opened, and Marie-France entered the room. She was wearing a pink silk suit that complemented her astonishingly radiant complexion.

Her wrists and neck were unadorned, butshe had several extravagant diamond, sapphire, and ruby rings on her fingers. Her handshake was firm and formal. Ms. Lavoisier knew how to holdher own.

“So, gentlemen, what can I do for you?”

Benjamin shot a glance at his assistant before tactfully and a bit solemnly explaining the assignment he had been given. He confessed that he had not met his client, Shiyi Cheng, in person.

“We have only exchanged correspondence,” the winemaker said, hoping to gain a semblance of consideration from Lavoisier. Her pale eyes were making him uneasy. “I believe your shareholder simply wishes to know the status of the accounts.”“I don’t have to tell you that there are certified public accountants for that, Mr. Cooker.”

She lashed out his name, and Benjamin could almost hear a whip cracking. Then her eyes fell on Virgile. She stared not at his face, but at his body, from sternum to crotch. Benjamin could feel his assistant’s embarrassment. Virgile crossed his legs and pulled himself straighter in his chair as she continued her indecent and perverse inspection. Benjamin tried to correct himself. “PerhapsI did not make myself clear, Ms. Lavoisier. Our assignment has more to do with how we can help the company evolve. We’re here to study the business. Cognac is going through difficult times. I hope, in the framework of this mission, you will consider us allies, rather than enemies.”

cognac-conspiracies-coverCognac Conspiracies

Jean-Pierre ALAUX and Noël BALEN

(cozy wine mystery)

Release date: February 18, 2015
at Le French Book

140 pages

ISBN: 978-1939474322

Website | Goodreads

Synopsis~

The heirs to one of the oldest Cognac estates in France face a hostile takeover by foreign investors. Renowned wine expert Benjamin Cooker is called in to audit the books. In what he thought was a sleepy provincial town, he is stonewalled, crosses paths with his first love, and stands up to high-level state officials keen on controlling the buyout. Meanwhile, irresistible Virgile mingles with the local population until a drowning changes the stakes. [provided by the publisher]

An episode in a long successful French mysteries series that is a hit television series now in its fourth season and attracting an audience of over 4 million. The series is a huge success in France, Belgium and Switzerland.

Alaux-BalenJean-Pierre ALAUX and Noël BALEN, Biographies~

The authors of the Winemaker Detective series, are Epicures. Jean-Pierre Alaux is a magazine, radio and TV journalist, when he is not writing novels in southwestern France. He is the grandson of a winemakerand exhibits a real passion for wine and wine making. For him, there is no greater common denominator than wine.

He gets a sparkle in his eye when he talks about the Winemaker Detective, which he coauthors with Noël Balen.

Noël lives in Paris, where he shares his time between writing, making records, and lecturing on music. He plays bass, is a music critic and has authored a number of books about musicians in addition to his novel and short-story writing.

Translator Sally Pane, Biography~

Translator Sally Pane studied French at State University of New York Oswego and the Sorbonne before receiving her Masters Degree in French Literature from the University of Colorado where she wrote Camus and the Americas: A Thematic Analysis of Three Works Based on His Journaux de Voyage. Her career includes more than twenty years of translating and teaching French and Italian at Berlitz and at Colorado University Boulder. She has worked in scientific, legal and literary translation; her literary translations include Operatic Arias; Singers Edition, and Reality and the Untheorizable by Clément Rosset. She also served as the interpreter for the government cabinet of Rwanda and translated for Dian Fossey’s Digit Fund. In addition to her passion for French, she has studied Italian at Colorado University, in Rome and in Siena. She lives in Boulder, Colorado with her husband.
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Filed under Book Reviews