Book review & giveaway: The Madeleine Project, by Clara Beaudoux

Madeleine Project-CoverClara Beaudoux

on Tour July 12-18 with

The Madeleine Project

(biography/history)
Release date: September 12, 2017
at New Vessel Press
ISBN: 978-1939931498
288 pages
Website
Goodreads

SYNOPSIS

A young woman moves into a Paris apartment and discovers a storage room filled with the belongings of the previous owner, a certain Madeleine who died in her late nineties, and whose treasured possessions nobody seems to want. In an audacious act of journalism driven by personal curiosity and humane tenderness, Clara Beaudoux embarks on The Madeleine Project, documenting what she finds on Twitter with text and photographs, introducing the world to an unsung 20th century figure. Along the way, she uncovers a Parisian life indelibly marked by European history. This is a graphic novel for the Twitter age, a true story that encapsulates one woman’s attempt to live a life of love and meaning together with a contemporary quest to prevent that existence from slipping into oblivion.
Through it all, The Madeleine Project movingly chronicles, and allows us to reconstruct, intimate memories of a bygone era.

MY REVIEW

The blurb for this book fascinated me, as I’ve always wanted to be the fortunate one to discover a treasure trove of personal items from a time past. (So far, I haven’t had much luck!) The book covers the first two “seasons” where Clara finds and begins to dig through Madeleine’s effects, left in the cellar in suitcases and boxes. Each little bit of the past intrigued me, and though I enjoyed the book, it was also frustrating. The format is such that the pages are filled with the author’s Twitter posts. Nothing wrong with that overall, but you can’t enlarge any of the photographs she’s placed in the tweets. For me, liking detail, it defeats the purpose of the book altogether.

I did, however, go find the author’s website and read through all four seasons, clicking happily to enlarge photos or to watch video. It was far more satisfying. (go here: http://madeleineproject.fr/ — Google can translate a lot of it for you if you don’t speak French, though Chrome doesn’t seem to like translating the storify’d pages of tweets.) I expect this book would be better in its print format than on ebook (I was provided a copy of the PDF via Edelweiss, which I found limiting), as a record of Clara’s experiences.

Don’t let the formatting put you off; the material itself was fantastic and fascinating.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Madeleine Project-Beaudoux

Clara Beaudoux
is a Paris-based journalist for the France Info news network.
The Madeleine Project has been wildly popular in France.
You can follow her on Twitter at @Clarabdx

In French: on Facebook, The Madeleine Project page,
and the author’s main website

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Buy the book: on Indiebound | on Amazon

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You can enter the global giveaway here
or on any other book blogs participating in this tour.
Be sure to follow each participant on Twitter/Facebook,
they are listed in the entry form below.

Enter here

Visit each blogger on the tour:
tweeting about the giveaway everyday
of the Tour will give you 5 extra entries each time!
[just follow the directions on the entry-form]

Global giveaway open to all
5 winners

 

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CLICK ON THE BANNER TO READ REVIEWS

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I’m on tour!

All this week, I’m on tour with my new book, MOONLIGHT & LOVE SONGS. Check out the posts and giveaways, via France Book Tours:

Monday, Oct 7
Guest-post + Giveaway at Roof Beam Reader
Tuesday, Oct 8
Review + Giveaway at I Am, Indeed
Wednesday, Oct 9
Review + Giveaway at Turning The Pages
Thursday, Oct 10
Review + Giveaway at Making My Mark
Friday, Oct 11
Review at Books A To Z
Saturday, Oct 12
Review + Giveaway at Mommasez…
Sunday, Oct 13
Interview + Giveaway at My Book Addiction And More!
Monday, Oct 14
Review + Giveaway at Sinfully Sexy Book Reviews
Tuesday, Oct 15
Review + Giveaway at New Books On My Shelves
Wednesday, Oct 16
Interview + Giveaway at Words And Peace
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Review: The Many Lives of Miss K, by Jean-Noël Liaut (+ Giveaway!)

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Giveaway: Post a comment below to be entered to win a paperback copy of The Many Lives of Miss K., courtesy of its publisher, Rizzoli ExLibris. Winner will be drawn at the end of the tour.

Toto Koopman. Quite honestly, someone I’d never heard of before, and I felt like I should have known about her already.  (And I’m a bit annoyed with myself that I didn’t!)

I was utterly staggered by the range of her experiences, her cosmopolitan life… She seemed to have done and experienced more than a dozen people would in the same number of years.

For me the most interesting sections of the book were her concentration camp experiences, and how it affected her afterwards. It’s a miracle that she didn’t become one of the dead, and that she managed to do so well afterwards. I was also interested in her bisexuality, and that she maintained a lesbian relationship for a considerable portion of her life, seeming to have not a care in the world as to whether anyone approved.

Actually, my only complaint about the book is that it wasn’t longer. I could have read about her for another couple of hundred pages at the very least. Fortunately, there is a bibliography included with the book, and I have a feeling that I’ll be reading more about Miss K. and her contemporaries very soon.

About the book:

She is the most fascinating woman you’ve probably never heard of. Toto Koopman (1908 – 1991) was the world’s first celebrated bi-racial model, who was known for her work with Vogue and Chanel; acted as a spy for the Resistance, served time in WWII concentration camps; and played a pivotal role in launching the career of Francis Bacon.  She was fluent in five languages, led a jet set life in Europe in the 1920s and 1930s, associated with royalty, politicians, artists and other bon vivants. She was openly bisexual and beholden to no one, vowing never to marry.

She was affectionately known as Miss K and here is her story.

THE MANY LIVES OF MISS K: Toto Koopman – Model, Muse, Spy explores the allure of a freethinking and courageous woman who, fiercely protective of her independence, was sought after by many but truly known by very few. Author Jean-Noël Liaut chases his enigmatic subject through the many roles and lives she inhabited, both happy and tragic. Though her beauty, charisma, and taste for the extraordinary made her an exuberant fixture of Paris fashion and café society, her intelligence and steely sense of self drove her toward bigger things, culminating in espionage during WWII, for which she was imprisoned by the Nazis in Ravensbrück. After the horrors of the camp, she found solace in Erica Brausen, the German art dealer who launched the career of Francis Bacon, and the two women lived out their lives together surrounded by cultural luminaries like Edmonde Charles-Roux and Luchino Visconti. But even in her later decades, Toto remained impossible for anyone to truly possess.

Toto Koopman is a new addition to the pantheon of iconoclastic women whose biographies intrigue and inspire modern-day readers. Like her contemporaries Lee Miller or Vita Sackville-West, Toto lived with an independent spirit more typical of the men of her generation, moving in the worlds of fashion, society, art, and politics with an insouciant ease that would stir both admiration and envy even today. Sphinx-like and tantalizing, Toto conducted her life as a game, and each page of her biography conveys audacity and style.

ISBN: 978-0-8478-4129-5 / EBook – ISBN: 978-0-8478-4142-4

Pub Date: SEPTEMBER 3, 2013 / $24.95 US & CAN / 256 pages + 8 page b/w photo insert, by Rizzoli ExLibris, an imprint of Rizzoli New York.

jean-noel.liautAbout the author:

Jean-Noël Liaut is a French writer and translator. His books include biographies of Givenchy and Karen Blixen, and translations of works by Colin Clark, Nancy Mitford, Deborah Cavendish, Dutchess of Devonshire, and Agatha Christie.

Visit his website: http://www.jeannoel-liaut.com/

 

 

 

 

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Review: Wolf Wood, by Mike Dixon (& interview!)

SONY DSCReading Wolf Wood is like going back in time. That statement sounds really cliché, I know, but it’s very accurate. The book is extensively researched, and the historical accuracy (from what I could tell–I’m no historian, not really) was incredible.

I was intrigued by the dispute over the font, and how such a small thing could trigger such fury, and violence, and affect the entire community. These days the church and religious matters are not as important in the Western world, and I forget how essential belief was. And speaking of belief, the persistent idea that Alice (a woman working in an alms house, who was educated and a healer) could be a witch… Naturally, she was my favourite character. A spirited, educated woman in the midst of so much ignorance.

I haven’t read historical fiction in some time, so it took me a little while to immerse myself in the story. But once I became used to the world in Wolf Wood, the medieval way, the narrative kept my attention, and I had to read to the end. I’m glad to see that Part 2 is already out!

About Wolf Wood (Part 1): The Gathering Storm

In 1436 a dispute arose between the people of Sherborne and their abbot over the ownership of a baptismal font.  Before it was settled, the abbey was burnt down and a bishop murdered.  Some saw the hand of evil at work and blamed a newcomer to the town, accusing her of being a witch.  Others saw her as a saint.  Wolf Wood is set in the turbulent years of the late middle ages.  The old feudal aristocracy is losing control, a new middle class is flexing its muscles, the authority of the church is being questioned, law and order have broken down and England is facing defeat in France.  Wolf Wood is a work of fiction based on actual events.

Release date: June 14, 2013

Part One, ISBN 978-0-9875989-0-5.

PURCHASING INFORMATION

On the author’s website: http://mikejkdixon.com

Buy the book:

Part One URL: http://www.amazon.com/Wolf-Wood-Part-One-ebook/dp/B00DF556C4/

Interview with Mike Dixon:

Q: What first bit of research or reading inspired you to write Wolf Wood?

A:  I was born in Sherborne and attended school there.  Even after the passage of five hundred years, the story of the Fire of Sherborne Abbey was still being told.  Why a priest should have shot a flaming arrow and burnt down the abbey was a mystery to me as a boy.  Many years later, on a visit to Sherborne, I started to research the background to the famous fire and discovered that a remarkable amount of information had survived.  That was the inspiration for Wolf Wood.

Q: Were you able to visit some of the locations in your book as a part of your research?

A: I went to school in France as part of an exchange scheme in which I stayed with a French family and their son stayed with mine.  I know the Normandy region well and have made a study of the sites that featured prominently in the final stages of the war with England.

Q: What is your favourite scene in the book?

A: My favourite character is Steven, who is entirely fictitious.  My favourite scene is the Battle of London Bridge when Steven solves the problem of having a homicidal uncle who poses a severe threat to himself and his parents.  The battle took place soon after the defeated English troops returned to England.  Commander Gough (more correctly referred to as Captain Gough, to use the title of the day) died attempting to block the rebels passage into London.

Q: What can we expect in book 2, and in your future writings? What are your next releases?

A: Steven and other members of his generation come to the fore in Part 2.  It is already written and is on sale for $0.99 as an ebook from Amazon.

I am working on Part 3 in parallel with a novel in my Hansen Mystery Series.

Mike DixonAbout the Author:

I was born in Sherborne (Dorset) and attended school there and (as an exchange student) in the Medoc region of France.  I studied physics at Oxford and received a PhD degree in astrophysics from the University of Cambridge.  Following teaching and research appointments in South Africa, Scotland and Australia, I joined the Australian Government Service and worked, for a while, as a ministerial assistant.  I entered the tourist industry through public relations and scuba diving and established one of Australia’s first backpacker resorts.  I have a keen interest in medieval history and I am a frequent visitor to Britain and France.

As a boy, growing up in Sherborne, I heard about the famous fire of Sherborne Abbey and was told that a priest shot a flaming arrow into the tower and set the building on fire.  The marks of the fire are visible today, over five hundred years later.  And there is a lot more to tell us what happened.

There was an inquiry into the dispute that led to the fire and the surviving documents tell of a bitter feud between the abbot and the townspeople.  It’s highly dramatic stuff and it inspired me to write my Wolf Wood novels.

My books are fiction.  Some of the characters are based on real people; others are entirely imaginary.  I have done my best to be faithful to the main course of historical events and fill in the gaps with the sort of things that could have happened to my characters.

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