I wish someone were waiting for me somewhere by Anna Gavalda

Ich wünsche mir, dass irgendwo jemand auf mich wartet Blurb (from Goodreads):

Hailed by Voici as "a distant descendant of Dorothy Parker," prize-winning Anna Gavalda has caused an international sensation with this dazzling collection of short stories selling over 700,000 copies in her native France. With arresting naturalism, a lively variety of perspectives, Gavalda writes simply–and beautifully–of human beings longing to connect. Gavalda has a knack for capturing our inner as well as our outer dialogues with perfect pitch, provoking reflection, pain, and laughter in equal measure. The stories in I Wish Someone Were Waiting for Me Somewhere are as wicked as they are insightful, as stylish as they are sparse, as fiercely unsentimental as they are emotionally wrought.


In a nutshell:

I liked it:  x   Yes       No

For people who like: French literature, short stories about human relationships of any kind

My thoughts: 

I was going to read this book for “Paris in July” but then I never got around to doing it during summer. But better late than never. I have never read anything by Anna Gavalda, but this little book with short stories turned me into a fan.

Courting Rituals of the Saint-Germain-des-Prés (Petites pratiques germanopratines)

A very short story about a chance encounter, the following dinner and a wrong glance at the wrong time that breaks the deal. I loved it. We don’t know whether the deal breaker came as a welcome excuse or not, but it certainly shows that even a moment as short as a nanosecond can ruin your evening.

Pregnant (I.I.G.)

The German title of this story “Ungewollter Schwangerschaftsabbruch” (Unwanted termination of pregnancy) gives a much clearer hint as to what happens in this story. It made me uncomfortable from page 1 and I checked the original title to see whether the German or the English translator took some liberty here. In fact, it was the English one, as the original title is I.I.G. which, I suppose, stands for “Interruption Involontaire de Grossesse” which means “involuntary interruption of pregnancy”. From the start I knew where this was going, however, the end is even worse than I imagined.

This  Man and This Woman (Cet homme et cette femme)

On only three and a half pages we learn about the rather dreadful life of a rich couple. They are lost in their own trains of thought. Pretty frightening!

The Opel Touch (The Opel Touch)

A young student who works in a shop to make some money on the side is having a crisis due to the lack of love in her life. Her sister comes to the rescue.  “The Opel Touch” is such a good title for this story. I think we all know those situations and can relate.

Amber (Ambre)

While I was reading this story I was wondering continuously whether it would have a good or bad ending. I wanted it to end well so badly. Only the last line gives us some sort of clue.

Leave (Permission)

Another good story about the rivalry between brothers, the one a recruit on home leave, the other a golden boy, about a girl. The ending is slightly different from what you might expect. Oh, btw, the book title is taken from this story.

Lead Story (Le fait du jour)

This is about a man who finds out that he is responsible for a big traffic accident with many people dead or injured. Most of the stories in the book are open ended and as far as I am concerned this is a good thing. The events and reflections are already bad enough, I wouldn’t want to know any consequences.

Catgut (Catgut)

Definitely a spin on the “woman gets raped” topic. I liked the calmness and courage very much in which the woman gets her revenge on the rapists.

Junior (Junior)

OMG, what a fun story! I can just imagine the scene. Again, the open end becomes the story, you wouldn’t want to see the fit the boy’s father will go into in the morning. What do we learn from this story? Even though it might decrease your chances to cop off better take the old Vauxhall than your dad’s Jaguar to a party.

For Years (Pendant des années)

A very melancholic story about two ex-lovers who meet again after twelve years.

Clic-Clac (Clic-Clac)

Again this is about a blossoming love and how the two people get together.  I really liked the main character and his two sisters. The whole story is quite realistic, too. Why “Clic-Clac”? It’s the name of the newly bought IKEA sofa-bed.

Epilogue (Epilogue)

An author (presumably AG herself) tries to sell her book with short stories to a publishing house.  The invitation to meet the publisher turns out to be a little different than what she expected.

I was so pleased with those stories that I swapped the original French version and will give it a go. I think the stories are short enough that I will be able to stick to one at a time and the French won’t be so convoluted and complicated that it will be too hard to understand. Wow, this will be the first time in about 20 years for me to read a French book, I am really looking forward to that.


Location: France

Les Deux Magots, Saint-Germain-des-Prés  Melun Sully-sur_Loire

All images from wikipedia

Product info and buy link :

Title I wish someone were waiting for me somewhere
Author Anna Gavalda
Publisher Riverhead Trade
ISBN 1573223557
I got this book from my German swap site for “Paris in July” but never got around to reading it then
Buy link Buy I Wish Someone Were Waiting for Me Somewhere
More info Interview with Anna Gavalda in French (but dubbed German)


Have you read this book? What did you think of it? I would love to hear other opinions.


Paris in July: A moveable feast by Ernest Hemingway

A moveable feastBlurb:

‘If you are lucky enough to have lived in Paris as a young man, then wherever you go for the rest of your life, it stays with you, for Paris is a moveable feast.’ Hemingway’s memories of his life as an unknown writer living in Paris in the 1920s are deeply personal, warmly affectionate and full of wit. Looking back not only at his own much younger self, but also at the other writers who shared Paris with him – literary ‘stars’ like James Joyce, Wyndham Lewis, Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald, Ezra Pound and Gertrude Stein – he recalls the time when, poor, happy and writing in cafes, he discovered his vocation.


In a nutshell:

I liked it:  x  Yes       No

For people who like: Hemingway, Paris, the 1920s, biographies 


My thoughts: 

It took me quite some time to read this, but not because I didn’t like it. It’s just that biographical writing never keeps my attention as much as fiction, no idea why. So I read a lot of stuff in between. Hemingway_1923

This was fascinating. Ernest Hemingway describes a time and a lifestyle that is lost. He and his wife  Hadley were living a lifestyle that sounds unbelievably bohemian and almost romantic. It seems life in Paris in the 1920 cost buttons. He was poor, still they had money to go to the races, drink every day at various cafés, go skiing in Austria, go to Spain for the bull fights…..Working somehow seemed to get done in passing.

Hemingway met a lot of interesting people, all American expats, and what he has to say about them is not always flattering, but always interesting. I know nothing about Gertrude Stein, but what I learned about her here makes me want to go and find out more. The same with Ezra Pound. I particularly enjoyed reading Hemingway’s descriptions and observations about F. Scott Fitzgerald and his wife Zelda.

If you like reading about past times that everyone wishes back, then this is the book for you. Don’t we all want a moveable feast in our lives?

Image: Ernest Hemingway’s passport photo in 1923. Source: Wikipedia

Product info and buy link :

Title A moveable feast
Author Ernest Hemingway
Publisher Scribner
ISBN 978-0684833637
Buy link Buy A Moveable Feast

Have you read this book? What did you think of it? I would love to hear other opinions.

Sakura’s review at chasing bawa

Lakeside Musing

Bookstore bingo 



Paris in July: Pictures of Paris

It is more than appropriate to post a couple of pictures of Paris during our Paris in July event. Just so we can all see what we are missing while we are sitting at home blogging about it…




From Notre Dame. You can see the Eiffel Tower in the distance.


From Notre Dame again. I love those grotesques. In the background on the hill you can see Sacré-Coeur.


Paris in July: Amants by Catherine Guillebaud


This is the story of a man and a woman who fall in love with each other and start an affair even though they are both married. They can’t live together, but can’t be without each other either.

It is an unreasonable “amour fou”, but deep, passionate and extremely painful for both of them. 

In a nutshell:

I liked it:  x Yes         No

For people who… don’t mind a love story that involves adultery. Who like strong feelings. Who like a detached writing style. Who don’t mind a story with no happily ever after.

My thoughts: 

It seems as if this book is not translated into English so it is kind of pointless to review it in English, but maybe there are some people out there who are interested in reading it in the original French language.

I liked this book very much even though the writing style is very different from what I normally read. Catherine Guillebaud tells us the story of two people who meet, separate, get together again, this time with the intention of starting a love affair and then spend the next years as a secret, but extremely passionate couple. She talks about them as if she was a completely innocent bystander without any judgement or emotions. The woman and the man are never called by their name (except that, I think once each of their names are mentioned, but in a casual way), they are just “the man” and “the woman” or “he” and “she”.

They spend their lives mostly apart and this leads to a lot of discontent and bad feelings towards each other even though they crave being together. Their relationship sometimes takes quite a dubious way towards dominance and submission, this is probably slightly uncomfortable for some readers.

I can’t say I *enjoyed* reading this story, but it was a very good read that explored the deep emotions, mainly of the woman, who was trapped in a parallel life with her lover as well as in her “real” life about which we hardly learn anything. She only exists for the hours or days with her lover. When the man falls ill towards the end she suffers terribly as she is far away from him and first knows nothing about his whereabouts and later nothing about his condition. Eventually at the end, when they see each other again, everything is left open. We don’t know what is going to happen.

Product info and buy link :

Title Zwei Liebende (German translation)
Author Catherine Guillebaud
Publisher Fischer
ISBN 9783596160082
Buy link “Zwei Liebende” kaufen

Title Amants (French original)
Author Catherine Guillebaud
Publisher Seuil
ISBN 978-2020606547
Buy link Buy "Amants"

Have you read this book? What did you think of it? I’d love to hear other opinions.


Paris in July: 13 quotes

Today I am combining Thursday 13 with Paris in July and found thirteen quotes about Paris.

Louvre Image by Dimitri B from

  • If you are lucky enough to have lived in Paris as a young man, then wherever you go for the rest of your life, it stays with you, for Paris is a movable feast. ~Ernest Hemingway
  • America is my country and Paris is my hometown. ~Gertrude Stein
  • When spring comes to Paris the humblest mortal alive must feel that he dwells in paradise. ~Henry Miller
  • In Paris they simply stared at me when I spoke to them in French. I never did succeed in making those idiots understand their language. ~Mark Twain
  • Of course I have played outdoor games. I once played dominoes in an open air cafe in Paris. ~Oscar Wilde
  • The best of America drifts to Paris. The American in Paris is the best American. It is more fun for an intelligent person to live in an intelligent country. France has the only two things toward which we drift as we grow older—intelligence and good manners.  ~F. Scott Fitzgerald
  • [Paris] is dirty. It has pigeons and black yards. The people have white skin. ~Albert Camus
  • To have one’s mother-in-law in the country when one lives in Paris, and vice versa, is one of those strokes of luck that one encounters only too rarely. ~Honoré de Balzac
  • Nowhere is one more alone than in Paris … and yet surrounded by crowds. Nowhere is one more likely to incur greater ridicule. And no visit is more essential.  ~Marguerite Duras
  • Whoever does not visit Paris regularly will never really be elegant. ~Honoré de Balzac
  • To err is human. To loaf is Parisian. ~Victor Hugo
  • …the whole of Paris is a vast university of Art, Literature and Music…it is worth anyone’s while to dally here for years. Paris is a seminar, a post-graduate course in Everything. ~James Thurber
  • Paris is the only city where you can step out of a railway station —and see, the Seine with its bridges and bookstalls, the Louvre, Notre Dame, the Tuileries Gardens, the Place de la Concorde, the beginning of the Champs Elysees—what other city offers as much as you leave a train? ~Margaret Anderson


To see what other Thursday 13ers write about today, visit Thursday 13.


Paris in July: Je vous trouve très beau – movie

Paris in July is in full swing already and quite a few people have blogged about it.  My first post is not about a book, but a movie I saw the other day.

The film (US title: “You are so beautiful”) is about a French farmer who, after his wife dies, goes to Bucharest in order to find a young and healthy wife who could help him with work on his farm, but he gets more than what he bargained for.

This sounded like a really fun film and was very much looking forward to watching it. It won a César for best first film so I didn’t think I could go wrong with it.

I actually liked it quite a bit – at first. The actors were very good, the first half (dealing with the death of the farmer’s wife and his quest for a new wife) was quite funny. The film title is taken from the short standard speech that seems to be obligatory for all prospect wives. The guy hears this sentence umpteen times while he is in Bucharest, since all jevoustrouvethe girls want to get on the good side of him by flattering him. The woman he eventually chooses to go back to France with him is very nice, down to Earth and very likeable.

Now comes my problem with the film that made me not finish it. The woman turns out to have a little daughter that she left behind in Bucharest with her family. She sacrificed the life with her daughter for a life in France with the hope of being able to bring her daughter there at a later date. But the farmer doesn’t know about the little girl and already expressed a dislike of children in general.

Somehow this depressing topic didn’t go with my idea of a comedy at all. The woman was in tears whenever she called her daughter from a public phone and the situation rather got to her – who can blame her?

This is where I lost interest. I am generally not interested in films with kids in them and I was not planning on watching a social drama either. This is what the film for me turned out to be. So I stopped watching it.


Paris in July ideas

Tamara at Thyme for Tea has a post up about Paris in July asking people to suggest books, films etc. for the Paris in July participants.

This is quite hard actually. I looked through my Goodreads list of books for French themes or authors and must admit there are not many.

So, my list of suggestions for French themed literature or movies is short…


  • At the moment (as I am on a Hemingway roll) I am reading !A moveable feast” about Hemingway’s time in Paris as a young and unknown writer. It definitely has a lot of French flair.

Other books I very much enjoyed are

  • “Dangerous Liaisons” by Choderlos de Laclos. It is a novel in letters, you will probably know it from its film adaptation with John Malkovich and Glenn Close. I highly recommend it.
  • A very good book by a German author with lots of French atmosphere is “Perfume” by Patrick Süskind. If you have seen the film, I have to tell you, the book is much, much better.
  • If you like poetry you might want to give “The Flowers of Evil” by Charles Baudelaire a try.
  • The book I want to read in July is “Zwei Liebende” (Amants) by Catherine Guillebaud. I am not sure I will like it, the reviews are pretty divided. It is the story of a couple, both are married, but not to each other.



  • A good film which couldn’t be anything but French would be “Betty Blue”. That, by the way, would also be a good read. The novel the movie was made after is by Philippe Djian.
  • Then, I highly recommend “Queen Margot” (La reine Margot), a great film about the St. Bartholomew’s Day Massacre in 1572 and the events leading up to it.
  • I want to watch a film called “Sie sind ein schoener Mann” (Je vous trouve très beau) by Isabelle Mergaut. It is a comedy about a farmer who goes to Bucharest to look for a new, young, strong wife to help him out on his farm after his wife dies. It is supposed to be very funny.
  • And then there is the trilogy: Three Colours: Blue, Three Colours: White, Three Colours: Red. All three by Krysztof  Kieslowski. They are supposed to be very good.


A moveable feastliaisons perfume2zwei_liebende_cover


bettyblue reinemargot jevoustrouve

blue white red


There you go, this is as far as I have thought ahead. Have you got any recommendations for reading, watching or food wise? I would like to try some French cooking, but haven’t had a chance to look around yet. Have you got a favourite French dish? If so, let me know!


Paris in July

Last year I saw a lot of posts with a “Paris in July” tag to them, but never investigated further.

Yesterday, at Sabrina’s blog “Thinking about loud”, I saw her starting post about this event which will take place again this year.

Paris in July will run from the 1st – 31st July 2011 and the aim of the month is to celebrate our French experiences through reading, watching, listening to, observing, cooking and eating all things French.

I haven’t read a lot of French books or seen French films or cooked French dishes, so I thought this might be a good incentive to do so and a nice idea (plus, I loved the button with the bicycle).

I already have a few plans as to what to read and watch etc. but more about this later when the time has come.

If you are interested in joining, hop on over to Book Bath to read more.