Tuesday, 27 February 2018

Reflections

This year I want to do more with photography. I have plans to buy a new camera and at the moment I am trying different things with the camera I use at the moment. I especially like to get a bit more creative and last week I went out to see what I could find. I saw these reflections in the water and liked these very much. 



Friday, 23 February 2018

Lullaby, Leila Slimani

Finally there is an English translation of this French thriller, which I read a couple of months ago in Dutch.

From the first page you know something terrible happened, and in the rest of the book you will learn how this could happen.

A Parisian couple with two kids need a nanny since the wife wants to go back to work again. They think Louise is a miracle, not only does she take care of the kids, she also cooks and cleans the house to perfection. All their friends are jealous and they cannot believe their luck.

But Paul and Myriam do not know how to keep Louise at a fitting distance and when the problems Louise has grow over her head, they will also have consequenses for Paul and Myriam and their family.

Lullaby is a gripping thriller, that will make you question why people bring strangers into their homes and lives, it will make you even question why you do so yourself! From the first page you cannot look away, you know what will happen and the chilling thing is that on every page you see the evidence something will go horribly wrong.

Very, very good!

Original French title: Chanson douce (2016)

Tuesday, 20 February 2018

Three French films

Lately I saw three French films that I though were absolutely brilliant!

La Danseuse (2016)
Loie Fuller was an American danser who came to Paris around 1900 to dance at the Folies Bergere. She experimented with a new way of dancing, using her dress and a new way of lighting. She was an inspiration for a new generation of dancers like Isadora Duncan.

La danseuse is not a very good biopic since it make quite  a few mistakes, but if you take this as a film showing how hard a dedicated artist works at her performance, it is a very good film. The dances are filmed very beautifully and it is easy to see what a visionary Loie Fuller was and how modern and new her dances were. Very interesting!

Le fabuleux destin d'Amelie Poulain (2001)
I know I am very late to discover this movie. I think the whole world must have seen it before I did, but this was one of those movies people raved about it and somehow I always got the idea I would not like it. So I never tried it. Until last week. And I loved it. I absolutely loved it.

I liked the quirky humor, the funny moments of looking or speaking into the camera and most of all, I loved Amelie! Audrey Tatou is beautiful to look at, but also captures the frailness of Amelie.

I really liked how she managed to interfere with the lives of her neighbours, and I am glad she ended up finding love. And Paris is amazing as well.
I cannot believe it took me so long to discover this film!

La vie en rose (2007)
When I was a child, my parents had a record of Edith Piaf and as a child I was captured by her voice. I did not know much about her life, but what a sad life it was! Growing up almost on the streets, having to sing for money and when she was discovered as a talent it did not improve much. She drank a lot, she lost her daughter and the love of her life Marcel Cerdan (a boxer who died in a planecrash) and finally died at the age of only 47.

La vie en rose tells her story, not in a very linear way but in impressions of her life. Marion Cotillard is Edith Piaf and does a marvellous job of portraying one of the best singers France ever had. The only thing they did not cover in the film was her work for the resistance during WWII, but perhaps that would have made the film too long.

I cried during the last moments of the film, when Edith performs Je ne regrette rien for the first time, such a powerful performance. I think this is one of the best biopics I have ever seen.

Tuesday, 13 February 2018

Travelplans for 2018

For me going away on a citytrip a couple of times a year is a luxury and something I enjoy very much. I prefer a city-trip to a longer vacation and in the past years I have increased the amount of trips I make.

Half the fun is of course planning and looking forward to the trip and I am already making plans for the coming year.
So what do I have planned for 2018?

February: 
In the last week of February I will not go abroad but have a little getaway in The Netherlands. A retreat, since I will be spending a couple of days in an abbey, getting some much needed rest I think!

March
In March I will go to Porto in Portugal again. Technically this is work since it is an exchange for school and I will be going with a colleague and 24 students, but it is still fun. I am very much looking forward to being in Porto again, enjoying the amazing weather, the great food and the very friendly people!

May
I have not booked this holiday yet, but I will soon. For May I am looking at an Italian city I never visited before, and that is Napels. I think I will go there 4 days and I hope to get a good impression of this wonderful and vibrant city!

Summer
It has been too long since I was in Rome, so Rome is on my radar for this Summer. No idea yet how long and in which weeks (the first weeks of my Summer vacation I think, and probably 5-6 days) and I am already thinking about the things I want to see again and of course the new things I want to do.

Autumn
This trip is not sure yet, it will depend on my bankaccount! But perhaps a few days in either Paris or Nice would be possible in the last weeks of Oktober. I so hope so. I loved being in Nice last year in Oktober, and I think it was such a beautiful place I will love going there again. But we will see. And even if I do not go away in the Autumn, I think I cannot complain about travelling in 2018!
Even if I go to Nice, I do not think I will stay at the Hotel Negresco!

Friday, 9 February 2018

Bonjour Tristesse, Françoise Sagan

When you are seventeen years old everything is black and white to you. This also goes for Céline, who is on holiday with her father Raymond in the South of France for the Summer.

Her father and Céline have a good bond, but he does not set a good example for her, as he is hardly a parent and is more concerned with his latest girlfriend.

When Anne, an old friend of Céline's late mother comes to visit, Raymond is so taken with her that he ditches his last girlfriend and asks Anne to marry him.

Céline knows on one hand that living with Anne will be good for them as Anne has much more sense and class than they have, but on the other hand she resents that their lives will change.

So Céline comes up with a plan do drive her father and Anne apart, desperate enough to work and ruthless enough to be final.

Françoise Sagan published this book when she was only eightteen years old. And it is hard to imagine that somebody who is almost still a teenager could have written such clean and almost elegant prose.

Céline is not a very nice girl, but at the same time you cannot blame her for how she behaves, her father gives her no example at all. I loved how the novel is set up and you know something will happen, although in a way Céline never wanted.

It is no wonder that Bonjour Tristesse is considered a classic, and it is still as fresh as though it had been written yesterday.

Originally published in 1954

Tuesday, 6 February 2018

The old town of Nice

Nice is famous for it's Promenade des Anglais, but this was only built in the second half of the 19th century. Then the hotels were also built, making Nice a famous place for wealthy people to visit during the wintermonths.

But how beautiful the sea and the promenade are, Nice also has a great old Medieval town, sitting at the foot of the citadel with steep streets and meandering allys.

The colourful houses make it look like Italy, but of course Italy is not far away!

This old town has some spots that are really touristy, but as usual, once you turn the smaller streets and walk a bit further, you find hardly any tourists and you can enjoy the old town of Nice.





Thursday, 1 February 2018

A gentleman in Moscow, Amor Towles

Count Alexander Rostov moved back to his beloved Russia after the Russian Revolution, because he did not want to desert his country. 
In 1922 he is sentenced to house-arrest, since he is considered to be a threat to the communist regime.

He is now a so-called Former Person and does not have any rights anymore. He cannot live in the suite he has lived in for the past years, but has to move to a small room in the attic. At first the count tries to fill his days with the essays of Montaigne, but these do not bring him much joy. 

But as it turns out it will be the people in the hotel, both staff and guests, who will help him through the coming thirty years. The count will make friends, turns his talents to good use and will even care for an adopted daughter.  

Count Rostov is a true gentleman and he is friendly and kind to all people around him. He does not step outside the hotel for the entire period between 1922 and 1954, except for once, during an emergency.

But his life is rich with both the memories of his childhood and the new friends he makes. From his old friend Mischa, the actress Anna, young Nina, the American diplomat Richard, the party-member Osip who hires the count to teach him about the West, the cook Emile and the maître d’ Andrey, all these people play a part in the life of the count, as he plays a part in theirs.

Sofia has a special place, she is his adopted daughter and turns out to be a talented pianist. For her the count will do anything to ensure she will have a future.

A gentleman in Moscow is a beautiful book about a very special man, a man you will come to love very much. And the book is not boring at all. Despite the fact that count Rostov spends 32 years in the hotel, the outside world does have its effect. The hunger, Stalins terror, WWII and many other things will influence the lives of the count and the people around him.

I loved the end when the count, who is an honourable man who would never betray his beloved Russia, goes against his own personal code of honour once. But you understand why he does this, it was the only thing he could do. The actions of the count are a bastion of civilization in a world that becomes very uncivilized.

There is some action towards the end and it is very exciting to read what the count planned and how things turn out. I loved the final scenes, they were not as I expected, but they were fitting and moving.

In the end I found it hard to say goodbye to count Alexander Rostov and I could only wish him the very best.

I have tried not to give too much away, since I think this is one of those books people should read themselves. Very beautiful, very good!

I read this book together with Lark, who also published her review today. As always, it was great to do this little reading project together. Thank you for wanting to read this book with me! 

Published in 2016
Pages: 462
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