3 recent reads and 3 French series

I love reading. I always have. I think reading is one of life’s greatest pleasures. However, I’m very lazy about reading in French. I love to speak French, listen to French and even write in French but I don’t sit and read a French novel anymore. I think that might be because I studied French literature at A level and then as part of my degree. Or is that just an excuse?!

There are three books I have enjoyed recently. My favourite is ‘Eleanor Oliphant is completely fine’. This is the first novel written by Gail Honeyman. I cannot begin to tell you how much I loved this book. It made me laugh but also brought a tear to my eye. I found it original and beautifully written and I haven’t come across anyone who hasn’t enjoyed it – yet!


The second book is ‘The Trouble with Goats and Sheep’ by Joanna Cannon. This is also a debut novel and takes place in the summer of 76; one I remember well. It is in part a thriller, in part a story of coming of age but also about the nature of friendships. This book appears to divide opinion, according to the reviews I have read, but it is one I definitely enjoyed.


My final recent read was ‘Swing Time’ by Zadie Smith. I have read, and enjoyed, her books previously. This book focuses initially on the friendship between two mixed race school girls, in NW London, in the 1980s. The themes of race, class and gender are visited and overall, it is very well written. However, although the book started really promisingly, I struggled to get to the end – although I did! Again, reviews and opinions are divided on this novel.

I might have been lazy about reading in French but this hasn’t been the case with watching French television series! Have you ever watched Spiral, or Engrenages, as it is known in French? There have been six series and they were shown, in the UK, on BBC4 on a Saturday night. It is a gritty police drama which takes place in the Parisian suburbs. The main characters are complex and flawed and the acting is fantastic. We are also offered an interesting insight into the French judical system and the way it works. Although some of the action is a bit gruesome, I found Spiral to be totally addictive and I cannot recommend it enough.


My next two series are part of Walter Presents which is showcased on Channel 4 and All4. Walter selects a range of foreign language dramas, not just French. If you enjoy ‘Scandi noir’, I’m sure you’ll be able to find something to watch.

The first series I’m going to talk about is called ‘Vanished by the Lake’ (Le mystère du lac). It was filmed in the very beautiful Var region and is centred on the return of a woman detective, to her home town, to care for her mother. The day of her arrival, a neighbour’s teenage daughter disappears. The circumstances are similar to the disappearance of the detective’s two closest friends when they were teenagers.

No where near as gripping as Spiral but an engaging watch, nevertheless.


My second series from Walter presents is Dead Beautiful (Les Dames) and stars Thierry Goddard (who was outstanding as Gilou in Spiral) playing a Parisian detective, Martin – bit of a theme going here! He is on the hunt for a particularly nasty murderer who targets women and uses a crossbow. Alongside the crimes, we get an insight into Martin’s complex love life – how very French!


Quite a long post from me, this time. Congratulations on making it to the end! I’d love to know what you’re been watching and reading.

11 thoughts on “3 recent reads and 3 French series

  1. A timely post June as my French tutor has just got me reading L’Elegance du Hérisson. Ugh! I really think it is too ambitious for me and I’ve told her so, there are words in every sentence that I am unfamiliar which interrupts reading as I then have to look them up to be able to get the gist of the story. At 400 pages I imagine it will take me all year to read it! My friend has just recommended Eleanor Oliphant so no doubt I will get to read that soon.
    Absolutely loved Engrenages but I read in The Times that there will be just one more series. Also enjoyed Le mystère du lac and Les Temoins…. haven’t seen Les Dames so thanks for the heads up.
    Just heard on the news about a hostage situation in a south western France Super U, how terrifying.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I’m impressed that you have a French tutor! I hadn’t heard of the book you mentioned so I looked it up. It does look rather challenging. I think maybe I’ll return to reading in French by starting with short stories!
      The world is a very scary place. I doubt if anywhere is really ‘safe’ these days; Salisbury for example…
      Thank you for commenting.


  2. I am loving Engrenage! We got the old episodes and have been binge watching. It’s good for learning French too. If you get the chance watch Les Revenants – that was addictive too. I did an English Literature degree a couple of years back and I have to say I have struggled with reading since! Must get back into the habit.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I watched the first series of Les Revenants but the second one has passed me by. Possibly a bit too creepy for me! I could only watch the first series if my husband watched it with me! Thanks for commenting.


  3. I also enjoyed reading Eleanor Oliphant but I did find myself irritated by the character because I don’t think that anyone living in Britain who has a TV and goes to work among other people could be so truly naive. Just started reading Dorothy Koomson’s The Friend. I’ve enjoyed her previous books. I like the sound of the Joanne Cannon book….’76 is a summer that I too remember very well.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I enjoyed your post. The Zadie Smith book sounds interesting! I’ve started to read the John Grisham novel, “The Rooster Bar.” On Netflix, I recently watched the French comedy, “I’m Not an Easy Man.”

    Liked by 1 person

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