Happy Bastille Day everybody! Today marks the birth of the French republic and France’s national holiday. On this day in 1789 the French people stormed the prison to protest the high taxes, food shortages, and political tyranny in their country. To celebrate you can set off a few fireworks or, if you’re like me and always prefer to be in bed reading, here are a few books set in France to get you in the spirit!
1. Chocolat by Joanne Harris
When lovely Vianne Rocher moves to the tiny village of Lansquenet with her daughter and opens a chocolate shop, the villagers don’t know what to think. Using her strange ability to guess people’s problems and provide solutions, she slowly begins winning them over one by one but the priest Pere Reynaud refuses to be won, plotting Vianne’s downfall even as she prepares a chocolate festival for Easter Sunday. If you’re hungry for more of Vianne’s delicious desserts you can continue the series with The Girl with No Shadow, Peaches for Monsieur Le Curé, and The Strawberry Thief.
2. Les Miserables by Victor Hugo
Where would this list be without this doorstop of a classic? Hugo is one of the most celebrated French authors of all time and for good reason. Les Miserables is a touching epic about injustice in society with unforgettable characters and beautiful writing.
3. Little by Edward Carey
Little tells the story of Marie Grosholtz, the tiny orphan who would one day became the famous Madame Tussaud. Beginning as an apprentice in a waxwork shop, Marie travels to Versailles and lives through the Terror, doggedly pursuing money and independence despite the tumult around her. Uniquely told and full of quirky illustrations by the author, Little is a touching story of a determined girl who, though little, was mighty.
4. Perfume: The STory of a Murderer by Patrick Suskind
It is 18th-century France and a murderer is on the loose. Born with an abnormally keen sense of smell, Jean-Baptiste Grenoille is on a mission to create the ultimate perfume by killing teenage girls and distilling their scent for himself.
5. The Mystery of the Blue Train by Agatha Christie
When famed detective Hercule Poirot boards Le Train Bleu bound for the French Riviera, he doesn’t expect he will soon be solving a murder but when Ruth Kettering, a young heiress stuck in an unhappy marriage is found strangled, he must find the murderer before they strike again.
6. The Blessing by Nancy Mitford
Told with her characteristic wit and charm, The Blessing is classic Mitford. Set post-World War II, it tells the story of an English girl named Grace who moves to France in pursuit of her play boy lover and their son Sigi who wants to see them apart.
7. Dragonfly in Amber by Diana GabAldon
In the second installment of the Outlander series Gabaldon transports her lovers to the French court where they try to prevent the Jacobite rising by manipulating the politics of the day from the inside. It is never an easy road for poor Claire and Jamie and Dragonfly in Amber sees them attacked from all sides but their love remains as strong as ever.