Life in a French small town ~ a book review and recommendation of “Chronicles from Château de Moines” by Evelyne Holingue

After his mother lost her battle with cancer, Scott, his younger sister, and his “hippy” father move from California to rural France. In the fall of 1970, in the small town of Château de Moines a new life starts for all of them, far away from the ghosts of their past. Scott quickly adapts to his new life, he becomes a regular customer of the towns café and even discovers some sides of the town that are even unknown to the locals. He attends football games played by the children of North African immigrants.

One of the people with whom Scott develops a deep friendship is Sylvie, a girl longing to own a pair of Levi’s jeans, who loves to listen to American music and has many dreams she does not dare to voice. Sylvie is at first annoyed by the presence of Scott, all she can think of, is his smile, his movie star smile. Thus, she tries to avoid even listening to her favourite music.

Chronicles from Château de Moines is a beautiful book by Evelyne Holingue, it is told through the eyes of the French girl Sylvie and through those of Scott, who dares to perturb her everyday life. Written in a diary style, this book is fun to read (even if you are not of the age group it is for…), and the reader feels as though they have known both of the narrators for a long time. The sharing of their most intimate thoughts, worries, and memories do help with this identification process.

But Chronicles from Château de Moines is not just the story of 12 year olds worries. It is a portrait of rural France in the 1970s. People are worried about what is hippy and groovy (American) and what is foreign and unknown (North African immigration). Life’s negative sides such as fear, mistrust, sadness, and warfare as well as more positive ones such as friendship, love, trust, and peace can be found within the pages of this book.

Many lessons are transmitted through this story. For example the book encourages the reader to pick up where they gave up, like Scott who quit plucking his guitar strings, as well as to be brave and have confidence in one’s talents, such as Sylvie, who is pushed by her friend to make her voice heard.

I can wholeheartedly recommend Evelyne Holingue’s book. I always feel that sometimes important lessons and messages are very well, maybe even best, if transmitted through the voice of a child character.

Book review by Solveig Werner of Chronicles from Château de Moines by Evelyne Holingue, Burel Press, 2014

You can connect with Evelyne on her blog. Last week, I reviewed her other book Trapped in Paris, please check out that review too.

Where you can find Chronicles from Château de Moines 
On iTunes, here it is currently for free, until Labour Day (Sep. 7th 2015)
Amazon UK, Amazon US

Discovering a different side of Paris ~ A book review and recommendation of “Trapped in Paris” by Evelyne Holingue

After a trip to Paris, Cameron, a 16 year old American is on his way back home to Maine. But sometimes natural events make us change plans. Due to the eruption of a Volcano in Island, Charles de Gaulle airport is now longer letting planes take off. After a tiring night at the airport and even though Cameron has promised his mom not to leave the airport, he leaves for the city with his new friend Framboise. Both are short on money and thus decide to spend the next night on the banks of the Seine, which turns out to be a horrible mistake. They suddenly find themselves caught in a web of organised crime.

Trapped in Paris by Evelyne Holingue, is a book packed with suspense, as well as many unexpected twists. Cameron is regularly haunted by the memories of his past love, but this does not keep him from learning many valuable lessons for life. The themes of true love, friendship, family, ageing, and courage spring to my mind. The protagonists are two sweet kids that one can easily relate to, with fears and other worries which one might call proper for their age, but which I think are universal.

If you are like me not part of the age group that this book is aimed at, then go ahead anyways. It is a true page turner. I must confess that I read it in no time, and when I was not reading it, was wondering what was going to happen next. Filled with French vocabulary words, and a boy wishing he had listened more in French class, the most unthinkable reasons for why it is important to learn foreign languages are encountered. In the end you might say, let’s go for some language immersion! Anyone francophile, Paris loving, or just curious for a good adventure should pick up this book, I wholeheartedly recommend it!

Book review by Solveig Werner of Trapped in Paris by Evelyne Holingue, 2012, Burel Press

You can connect with Evelyne on her blog.

Where to find Trapped in Paris:
Currently Trapped in Paris can be found for free on iBooks until Labour day (Sep. 7th 2015)
Amazon US, Amazon UK, Amazon France