The Adaptations of "Les Miserables," a French Classic

One of the most revered French books of all time, Les Miserables, is still a beautiful book to read today. The beloved book, which was written by Victor Hugo, was first published in 1862. It tells several complex stories in which characters interact, influence, and deeply affect the smaller stories within the novel and the big picture as well. The stories within the book span a 17-year time period from 1815 to 1832.
The main character, Jean Valjean, experiences redemption and true change. Among many key points, the themes and natures of law and grace are explored. Although written so long ago, the book is surprisingly relevant to our lives today.
The book has been translated multiple times in very many languages. Titles that it has been published under include The Victims, The Poor Ones, The Wretched, The Wretched Poor, and The Miserable. Perhaps they are all fitting as the literal translation is “The Miserable Ones.” 
It has been adapted for plays, films, concerts, and television movies. Its most famous adaptation is the stage music that is nicknamed Les Miz and Les Miserab. The stage musical version featured music compositions that were written by Claude-Michel Schonberg. The lyrics were written by Alain Boublil, Jean-Marc Natel, and Herbert Kretzmer.
The musical version of Les Miserables was first staged in 1980, and it would go to run for years in London, New York City, and many other cities around the world. Songs from the musical include “On My Own” and “Castle on a Cloud.” This musical version is currently being adapted into a major feature film starring Hugh Jackman, Russell Crowe, Amanda Seyfried, and Helena Bonham Carter. 

The Little Prince: a Standout French Book

The Little Prince (La Petit Prince in French) is a charming, short, and unforgettable book. It was written by Antoine de Saint-Exupery, who was a French aristocrat writer in addition to being a pioneering aviator and much-lauded poet. It’s narrated by a little boy, but the philosophical subject matter is deep enough to enlighten adults and children alike.
When I was studying writing and directing in college, I was given an assignment to read this book. I don’t know why I had never done so before, but I just fell in love with the book and was so grateful for the assignment. 
I’m not the only one who has an affinity for this creative piece of literature. In fact, it’s the most translated and read book in the French language. Over 200 million copies of the book have been sold since it was first published in 1943. This book that’s beloved by so many has now been adapted for films, plays, a ballet, and an opera.
The simple, pretty watercolor illustrations that were published on the cover and within the book have become about as famous as the book itself. They were also created by Saint-Exupery, who presumably passed away only a year after the book’s publication when his Lockheed P-38 vanished over the Mediterranean. 
Fans of the book may also be enthralled to know that they can read some of the book that was marked through and not included in the published copy. The original manuscript is held at The Morgan Library & Museum in the Manhattan of borough of New York City. 

Writing a Journal in French

They say that the best way to learn a language is to immerse yourself in the culture of a country where the language is the native tongue of residents. Well, as much as we’d like to do so, most of us cannot take off to spend a season in Paris at our leisure. That doesn’t mean that you still can’t enjoy learning the language to the fullest. 
One way that is under-used is writing a journal in French. Writing a language goes a long way to helping you speak it and know how to respond when its spoken to you. It’s perfect for beginners, as you can look up how to conjugate a word or which phrase you need to form before writing it down. 
Start small, writing only a paragraph per day. As you progress in the language, write longer entries until you are up to two pages each day. You can use your French journal to record “morning pages,” a popular journal technique when you write down your free thoughts as soon as you wake up each morning, or use it as a journal to record the events of your day-to-day life. You may even choose to use a French journal to write down the things you want to do and be in life. It’s all up to you. 
A word to the wise, though: try to use the journal in a way that will also bring out aspects of the language that you most want to learn. For example, if you are studying French to go there to study dance, you’d want to focus on learning the language as a whole and also on learning the terms necessary to communicate in-depth of dance with native French speakers.

Play and Learn French

If you are looking for a fun program to help your child learn the French language—and you’re not proficient in French enough to simply speak or sing it at home, which may be the best way to learn—you may want to check out Play and Learn French: Over 50 Fun Songs, Games, and Everyday Activities to Get Started in French. It consists of a hardback book and CD to use each day with your child and provides you with plenty of fun in French so both of you can learn together!

The program is very cheaply available, at only $9.87 on It’s geared toward ages 4 to 8, making it appropriate for a wide range of ages. In addition to the songs and games, the program also has comic strips and English translations, French culture information, and plenty of other information to provide just the right amount of introductory material to be interesting and fun without overwhelming any kiddos.

I’ve seen how powerful using music and games can be when learning a second language. When I took Spanish, the best lessons that stuck with me were the musical ones, and my college roommate, who was from Japan, learned best through music as well. Television programs, such as Muzzy, are also really helpful—though you can learn a lot by just switching a language on your favorite DVDs.

This is definitely something we would use if my daughter were interested in French; so far, she’s only interested in Korean (courtesy of her taekwondo teacher).

The Elegance of the Hedgehog is philosophy in a readable package

Apartment concierges are usually portrayed as friendly old men whose most difficult task is to shoot the breeze with their residents and hail taxi cabs.  Not so in Muriel Barbary’s The Elegance of the Hedgehog.  Philosophy professor Barbary’s concierge protagonist Renée Michel thinks about metaphysics and reason in the universe all day in her upscale French apartment building. Her residents would never know it, however. Renée never discusses her huge thoughts with her rich Parisian residents. For readers turned off by philosophical musings, Barbary’s characterizations of the haughty men and women of the apartment building are what makes the book immensely readable.  As does Renée’s new friend, Paloma Josse, a 12-year-old who finally can match wits with Renée.

Shadows of Obsession

Shadows of Obsession, An erotic novel that cautions us that sometimes one touch, one taste of undulated ecstasy, or one chance encounter, is all it takes to become the object of someone's affection, or the desire to become someone's obsessional affliction

  An erotic psychological thriller that sets the heart racing, and the pulse pounding

  An intimate romance that indulges your wildest and illicit fantasies


Personnages de la Littérature Française

ISBN-10: 0030803403, ISBN-13: 978-0030803406

If you are into  the french language make sure to check out Personnages de la Littérature Française by René Bellé and Andrée Fénelon Haas. ITs a great resource!

"This book is designed for students in the third or fourth year of high school or in the third or fourth semester of college. It was written with the intent of providing students with an introduction to some French literary masterpieces. Before taking a regular course in French literature, in which novels and plays would be studied and analyzed in detail, the readers of this textbook will become acquainted with some famous figures of French fiction. The French-English Vocabulaire at the end of the book includes the words which appear in the text as well as in the exercises. (Preface in English)"

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Crime Thriller

Has anyone ever heard of a book called, The Scar, written by Michael Weiner (  My friend gave me the book. It was a quick read, but I thought the story was really intense and such a good crime thriller. Does anyone know if he has written anything else?

Émile Zola's Thérèse Raquin (1867)

It seems that everything about the life of Émile Zola was something of a hassle. Certainly, there must have been a great many good times, but along the way to becoming one of the pillars of 19th century French literature, the author and journalist encountered more than a few simple bumps in the road.

Born in 1840 in Paris and growing up in Aix-en-Provence afforded Zola with access to some cultural expositions that most could only dream of. This was muted by the fact that his father died when Zola was 7 years old. The family ideal is something that would be visited in his writings, but this early loss should be construed as a marker in Zola’s development as a man and a writer.

In 1867, Zola would issue what’s considered his first major work, although the novels that followed would comprise a series called Les Rougon Macquart, that focused on the a single family. Thérèse Raquin, separate from that lineage, though, was able to impact French culture as deeply as his later work.

Upon its release, the novel was referred to as smut and as something of a pornographic screed. Some folks relate a sort of ‘ahead of its time’ notion in regards to what all transpired in this book, but that’s patently ridiculous. No one can be ahead of its time. The best an artist in any medium can hope for is to aptly represent a singular moment in history – that of his or her own.

Regardless of all that, Thérèse Raquin does sport some of the steamier material that would have been available anywhere during the decade that it was printed.

The namesake of the book, an orphan taken in by her aunt and cousin, is a rather withdrawn child. Repeatedly throughout the book, readers are ostensibly told that her demeanor comes as a result of growing up in such close quarters with her sickly, male cousin. Thérèse isn’t a tom-boy, per se. But she does come off as perpetually aloof.

Growing up in the country and moving to Paris – much like Zola himself – Thérèse is eventually engaged and married to her cousin Camille. Continuing on in much the same manner after the marriage as before, Thérèse does her daily chores in the shop that her aunt has procured for the family in some half run down part of town.

The incessant work with no reward should endear Thérèse’s character and her book to any one seeking to insert some feminist reading into the novel. And considering that post-marriage to Camille, Thérèse is engaged in an escalating series of problematic behavior to get what she pleases, some folks might think the character as a feminist herself. Sadly, her plans basically all fail. The main character is remarried, unhappily, and spends the better portion of the book suffering while trying to conjure some way out of the situation.

Thérèse Raquin has a bit of it all: sex, betrayal, murder, conspiring. Despite its relatively slow opening, the middle portion of the book purports some startling scenes even as it leads to a lackluster ending.