My March 2024 reads

Another month accompanied by another great stack of books. My stack was – ahem – a little slimmer this month because I had to read my own work. I’m revising my next novel before it goes to my editor, to be released this autumn. As any writer will tell you, reading novels by other authors is easy, while reading, editing and revising your own novel is always a long and painstaking process.

So on to this month’s fun…

March 2024 reads

In March, I spent a lot of time in France (at least in my reading world). First I accompanied a shy, cautious woman who travels to Paris for the first time and learns to stop only observing life from the sidelines, instead throwing herself into it with passion. Because Paris.

Next I read a contemporary French novelist, with a story set in rural France in 1908 in a complex family relationship. I love the French language and need to read more in French, so this was my start for this year.

Finally, I travelled to the United States, specifically San Francisco in the 188os in an historical fiction about a true figure : a (pre-jet) jet-setter, hedonistic, sexually promiscuous serial bride. This was a captivating look into the (previously unknown, to me) life of Amy (later Aimée) Crocker. Fascinating.

Two of these novels are NetGalley reads, and will be releasing soon. Two were in English, one in French. Since Marcj is Women’s History month, I’m also pleased I had three historical fiction novels centered on women. Although, to be fair, that is not unusual for me…

I highly recommend The Paris Novel and The Thirteenth Husband. Fabulous reads – watch out for these releases!


The Paris NovelThe Paris Novel cover

Ruth Reichl

Stella is a talented copyeditor who lives a safe, restricted life in 1980s New York. She’s never known her father and she’s always been a disappointment to her glamorous, self-absorbed mother. When her mother dies suddenly and leaves her a small inheritance with instructions to travel to Paris, Stella is torn.

Eventually deciding to follow her mother’s dying wish, a cautious Stella arrives in Paris – and slowly breaks out of her shell. This later-term, coming-of-age story opens a new world of thoughts, relationships and talents for a damaged Stella.

This was a beautifully rendered story of a woman coming to terms with a difficult past and projecting towards her future – in the City of Lights. Reichl is a food writer, and in this novel, Stella’s awakening is intricately tied with Parisian food culture. A fun, highly engaging novel.

Thank you to NetGalley and the publisher for my copy – all thoughts are my own.


AmoursAmours cover

Léonore de Récondo

This tale opens in a rural town outside of Tours, France in 1908. Victoire has done well for herself in marriage, upping her station in life by marrying Anselme, a respected notary public whose family is well respected in the community.

Victoire oversees the household, but otherwise appears rather detached from life, while a frigid Anselme is fully absorbed by his work, often sleeping in a camp bed in his home studio. Victoire is also frustrated by her inability to become pregnant during the course of her marriage, as an heir is expected for their family – and would provide a sense of purpose to her life.

Unbeknownst to Victoire, Anselme is sexually abusing their young maid, Céleste, resulting in a pregnancy. Nevertheless, Victoire decides to welcome the young son into their household, passing him off as the newborn of Victoire and Anselme. Her incompetency and indifference as a mother throws Victoire into the arms of Céleste, thereby closing the love (lust?) triangle.

I wanted to love this novel, and did at the outset, but it began to wane for me by midpoint.
Despite being written from the alternating perspectives of Victoire, Anselme and Céleste, the characters often felt paper thin to me. I felt we were well positioned to delve into their thoughts and motivations, yet felt it never really scratched the surface. Then, of course, was the discomfort of realizing that both Anselme and Victoire are abusing a young, powerless maid for their own sexual gratification in this more aptly named lust triangle. Some scenes, such as Victoire’s declarations of coming out to her father, felt much more modern-day than reflective of 1908 rural France cultural mores.

On the plus side, the writing was quite beautiful and lyrical, and reading in French is always a pleasure for me and introduces me to new vocabulary and expressions, so overall, I did consider this a fairly good novel. I would definitely read something else by this author.


The Thirteenth HusbandThirteenth Husband cover

Greer Macallister

“Another traveler might have cursed herself for coming all this way without arranging things more firmly beforehand, but I’ve never been that kind of traveler.”

“Even the mistakes that I made were worth making. I would make them again too.” – AC

“And if I could live it again, this very long life of mine, I would love to do so. And the only difference would be that I would try to crowd in still more … more places, more things, more women, more men, more love, more excitement.” – AC

This historical fiction novel is based on the real life Amy (later Aimée) Crocker (1864-1941). Or, if you prefer to include all the names of this serial bride, Amy Crocker Ashe Gillig Gouraud Miskinoff (Prince) Galitzine. She had an extraordinary skill of always selecting a husband in his twenties, even when she was decades beyond that age herself. World traveler, writer, bon vivant, sexually promiscuous, fabulously wealthy, drawn to spiritualism and mysticism, proudly scandalous, Amy lived a brash and extraordinary life.

Born in San Francisco to a wealthy industrialist and a mother who placed great emphasis on virtue and decorum, Amy was devastated when her beloved father died. She was only ten years old, and her father’s will left her a princely sum of ten million dollars.

I flew through the first half of this beautifully written novel, devouring the recounting of her life, flirtations, marriages, love affairs and her life in New York, Hawaii, Japan and India. Her strong voice and headstrong intent on flouting societal rules made for a heady read. I also loved that each chapter heading was a quote from Amy’s memoir “And I’d Do It Again”.

It slowed for me midpoint, largely because Amy is, essentially, a narcissistic personality and we are very much trapped in her self-absorbed brain. She speaks constantly about friends, but we never meet them past her 20s. I felt only her relationship with her mother grounded her a bit and we were able to see another side of her. Once her mother died, I felt that was lost. I also would have enjoyed a bit more reflection about the world changing around her. She’s living in Paris at the time and there’s barely a mention of WWI.

Regardless, this is a well written and well researched fiction of a bohemian woman who never met a rule she didn’t intend on breaking. A highly enjoyable read.

Thank you to NetGalley and the publisher for my copy – all thoughts are my own.



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