Just three more, that’s all. But what a delightful trio it was! Again, these were gotten at unbeatable prices and in pristine condition. All three were such unexpected gems lying there among the sea of bargain books that I happened to chance upon. Finding them brought great delight and I am so excited to share this bounty with all of you! πŸ™‚

Flight to Arras by Antoine de Saint-Exupery
I fell in love with Saint-Exupery’s The Little Prince when I first listened to the theatrical reading of the book about four or five years ago. It has since then become one of my all time favourite listening experiences ever. I never really went on to reading the book, nor searching out Saint-Exupery’s other works. Only recently after reading a blogger’s review on one of his other book Wind, Sand and Stars (a book recording his miraculous survival after crashing into the Libyan desert in 1935), was I more aware of the existence of his other works. And they sound like something I would really like to seek out for from here on. So you can just imagine my delight when I found this unexpected lovely sleek Penguin copy of Flight to Arras.
At the outbreak of the Second World War during the summer of 1940, Saint-Exupery had flew in a reconnaissance squadron from Orly over Nazi-occupied France to Arras. Though the mission was a pointless one, as the French surrender was only weeks away, it was still so dangerous that he was not expected to survive it. This book records that journey and his eventual safe return. It is also a profound and passionate meditation on mortality and war. I found it rather saddening though, to learn that in just over four years after the miraculous journey recorded here, Saint-Exupery’ plane was found to be shot down over the Mediterranean sea by German fighters, and his body never found.

The Violins of Saint-Jacques by Patrick Leigh Fermor
I have actually been on the lookout for PLF’s A Time of Gifts ever since reading about it on Danielle’s blog about a year ago. My interest in him grew when I found out about his long time friendship and correspondence with the Duchess Deborah Devonshire and have since gotten a copy of their collected letters In Tearing Haste, which I am much looking forward to read. Finding this little book (only 140 pages) is the perfect opportunity for me to sample a taste of his writing style, as I continue to hunt down his other more significant works.
This one tells of an English traveller’s meeting with an enigmatic elderly Frenchwoman on an Aegean island during one summer. He is captivated by a painting she owns of a busy Caribbean port overlooked by a volcano, and in time she shares the story of her youth there in the early twentieth century. It is said to be a tale of romantic intrigue and decadence amongst the descendants of slaves and a fading French aristocracy. Sounds interesting enough. Let’s see how it reads on. πŸ˜‰

The Heptameron by Marguerite de Navarre
Of all my three lovely finds yesterday, THIS was to be the most surprising and thrilling catch of the day for me! Not only is the writer completely foreign to me (and I don’t just say this because she is French), it was also a book which I had never even heard of before. But what an exciting and fun premise the book is set upon!Β  Check this out.

They had all prepared their stories , and could hardly wait to tell them.

In the early 1500s five men and five women find themselves trapped by floods and compelled to take refuge in an abbey high in the Pyrenees. When told they must wait days for a bridge to be repaired, they are inspired – by recalling Boccaccio’s Decameron – to pass the time in a cultured manner by each telling a story every day. The stories, however, soon degenerate into a verbal battle between the sexes, as the characters weave tales of corrupt friars, adulterous noblemen and deceitful wives. From the cynical Saffredent to the young idealist Dagoucin or the spirited Parlamente – believed to express De Navarre’s own views – The Heptameron provides a fascinating insight into the minds and passions of the nobility of sixteenth century France.

Doesn’t this book sound like an absolutely fun ride to go on? I can’t wait to be transported back to sixteenth century France with this group of noble Frenchmen & women, and be among the audience to their stories. πŸ˜‰
The books consists of a collection of some seventy stories spread over a span of eight days, each day with a different theme. Do take a look at the summary of the interesting daily themes :

First Day – A Collection of Low Tricks Played by Women on Men, and by Men on Women.

Second Day – On Which is Discussed All Manner of Thoughts, at the Pleasure of the Storytellers.

Third Day – Of Ladies Who Have Goodness and Purity in Love and of the Hypocrisy and Wickedness of Monks.

Fourth Day – Principally of the Virtue and Long-Suffering of Ladies in the Winning Over of Their Husbands, and of the Prudence of Men with Respect To Their Wives for the Preservation of the Honour of Their House and Lineage.

Fifth Day – Of Women and Girls Who Have Held Honour Dearer Than Pleasure, Of Some Who Have Done the Opposite, and Of The Simplicity of Others.

Sixth Day – On The Deceptions Perpetrated By Men on Women, By Women on Men, and by Women on Women, Through Greed, Malice and A Desire for Vengeance.

Seventh Day – Of Those Who Have Acted Contrary To Their Duty or To Their Desires.

Eighth Day – Truthful Accounts of Deeds of Folly, Which May Serve As Lessons To One and All.

Well, that was fun for me, even just to share those few bits with those of you who are reading this.Β  Hope it was just as fun for you too! πŸ™‚
By the way, just wondering if anyone here has actually read this before? If so, I would love to hear your thoughts on it.

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4 thoughts on “More New Acquisitions for February

  1. The unexpected finds are always the best ones! I want to read more of Antoine de Saint-Exupery, too. I would love to listen to the radio show (I like book dramatizations). And I love PLF! I was so sad that he passed away last year. I have that same novel and reading about it here reminds me that I need to pick up something by him as well. I do hope that his third book of travel memoirs will still be published. I think he was still editing them at the time of his death. And though I’ve heard of Marguerite de Navarre I didn’t know what this book was about. It sounds like a fun read. You’ll have to share what the experience is like–for some reason works in translation from earlier centuries tend to scare me! πŸ™‚

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    1. You have to listen to the theatrical reading, I’m sure you’ll love it! I was so surprised it was actually available on youtube (oh the joys of modern technology!) and couldn’t be happier to share the link. I usually prefer listening to the original unabridged reading of books rather than dramatizations because I want the experience to be as close to the actual reading of the book for myself, as possible. So this was quite an exception really. I love the music score that was playing in the background in this reading. Would love to know what you think of it once you’ve got around to listening. πŸ™‚
      I have yet to read any PLF but based on the strength of your words, I have a strong feeling we should click quite well. πŸ˜‰
      The Marguerite de Navarre does sound fun, doesn’t it? Can’t wait to dip in. From the looks of it so far, the translation seems to be quite ‘reader friendly’ to me. And if I, (armed with my limited range of vocabulary and short attention span) can manage to find it readable, you will definitely have no need to feel intimidated in any way. πŸ˜‰

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  2. Thanks for the link to that theatrical reading of The Little Prince. I’m going to head over there soon!

    Also, The Heptameron does look to be very interesting. It’s definitely different!

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    1. Great to know you will be checking out the theatrical reading soon! Can’t wait to hear what you think of it. πŸ™‚
      Yes, The Heptameron is really quite something else, isn’t it? And if at any time you think you might want to have a go at it yourself, feel free to let me know. I don’t mind lending it to you, since we are all now quite clear on what the expectations of a lender are. πŸ˜‰ Hahahah!

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