My Summer Reading List And More | une femme d'un certain âge

Thursday Miscellany: Summer Reading List And More

On my summer reading list: Les Parisiennes by Anne Sebba. Details at une femme d'un certain age.

On My Bookshelf…

A few weeks ago, I asked my Facebook followers for some recommendations to add to my summer reading list. (Emphasis on history, historical novels and biographies, about or written by women.) You all really came through with some good ones!

Currently Reading

Les Parisiennes: Resistance, Collaboration and The Women Of Paris Under Nazi Occupation by Anne Sebba. I’m about 1/4 through this one and it’s fascinating, though a little hard to follow at times. Organized chronologically, it picks up at the end of 1939, and chronicles how many prominent (and a few not-so-prominent) women were impacted by the Nazi occupation and how they reacted. It does jump around between women/families sometimes without a discernible segue, but the stories are well-researched and compelling. Resistance took many forms, and women were an important part of the effort.

On Deck

Summer reading: The Lost Vintage by Ann Mah. Details at une femme d'un certain age.

I can’t wait to dive into The Lost Vintage by Ann Mah. France, Burgundy, winemaking, history, mystery…think I’m going to enjoy this one!

Also on my short list:

Those should take me through the rest of the summer, I think!

Just a note: I’ve provided links to all of these titles, but if there’s an independent bookstore near you, I urge you to support them and purchase there.

Hair Tools

YS Park G series styling brush. Details at une femme d'un certain age.

As I’ve begun the process of growing my hair out again, I’m paying more attention to products and styling tools. I had lunch with my lovely sister-in-law yesterday and she was raving about this brush. She said it’s the best brush she’s ever found for styling. The wooden handle is much easier to grip than plastic, and the bristles grab and hold hair for blowouts without catching or tangling.

Oribe Gold Lust hair care set. Details at une femme d'un certain age.

This hair care set from ORIBE seems like a good value. I’ve been using that texturizing spray for a while now and it’s awesome for fine hair without weighing it down or stiffness. This set has been getting rave reviews, too.

Honorable Mentions

I was delighted to have some of my outfits featured yesterday over at You Look Fab. If you’re not familiar with YLF, it’s a wonderful resource and community for All Things Style. I’ve long been an admirer of Angie’s Modern Classic style. Many thanks to Angie and Inge for the wonderful feature!

What are you reading this summer?

Stay in touch.

Affiliate links in posts may generate commissions for See my complete disclosure policy here.


  1. July 26, 2018 / 3:53 am

    I wonder how someone would even start to tell stories of WWII. Such a huge, complicated topic. Chronological is one way, but unless you have a single story line, there would have to be jumping around. Single story lines are nice, but they don’t give the complexity of what was happening.
    A book I absolutely loved is “A Distant Mirror,” by Barbara Tuchman. It’s about the 14th century, told through one French family, but still, I got lost and confused a bunch of times–and I know French history pretty well for an American. All the same, it’s well worth reading. It explains so much about why we do things today. I want to read it again, to see whether, having processed some of the info/facts, I will better enjoy the tale.

    • Susan B
      July 26, 2018 / 6:30 am

      That’s one of my favorites too. I’ve read it probably 3 or 4 times over the last few years.

    • Cathy
      July 26, 2018 / 6:44 am

      Another great read by Barbara Tuchman is “The March of Folly”

  2. Ciara
    July 26, 2018 / 4:25 am

    A good book recommendation is a wonderful thing! I loved The Paris Wife by Paula McLain and I inquire if anyone has read Love and Ruin her latest book about Martha Gellhorn, a war correspondent?
    And yes, to slightly longer hair.

    • July 26, 2018 / 4:35 am

      Loved The Paris Wife too.

      • July 26, 2018 / 5:36 am

        yes, loved The Paris Wife and want to read the new one! Thanks for the reminder.Another series to try is Martin Walker, the Bruno Chief of Police series. Very French!

        • Mary
          July 26, 2018 / 3:26 pm

          I love the Bruno Chief of Police series too!

    • KSL
      July 26, 2018 / 6:32 am

      I’ve read Circling the Sun, and Love and Ruin – both I thought even better than The Paris Wife.

    • Cathy
      July 26, 2018 / 6:49 am

      A wonderful biography of Martha Gellhorn is “Gellhorn A Twentieth-Century Life” by Caroline Moorehead. Martha really should be better known imho.

  3. Val
    July 26, 2018 / 5:12 am

    Reading The Alice Network by Kate Quinn……v good

  4. July 26, 2018 / 5:32 am

    I checked, Anne Sebba is a British historian – checked to see whether I should buy or borrow it in French or in English. Cut-glass English, and more than a bit of a babe d’un certain âge…

    A Parisienne friend of mine was a hidden child in fascist Italy. Her family were Italian Jews, and had to flee the occupation. It may seem strange to flee to another fascist country, but the Italian bureaucracy was nothing like its German counterpart – both less ruthless and more corruptable. Somehow the family secured a “declaration of Aryanity” and managed to survive in an Italian town throughout the war. She is still going strong in her eighties, and utterly committed to fighting racism and discrimination, and now, to telling her family’s story. Her career was as an Italian teacher, later professor.

  5. July 26, 2018 / 6:22 am

    For very short hair “texture” TRESEmme gel. A very small dab in my hair in the am rubbed all through my hair when wet after shampooing, comb and let it dry. I have fine hair, and it holds it. Tons of compliments since I started using it. Yes it is “stiff” but just looks like excellent styling. If you comb it later, the styling stays.
    The TRESemme micellar shampoo is excellent. Both products are inexpensive at Walgreens.

    Book recommendation: if you haven’t read it ,”A Gentleman in Moscow” by Amor Towles.

  6. KSL
    July 26, 2018 / 6:33 am

    Just ordered the brush, thanks. Have you read An American Marriage? If not, really don’t miss it. Best book I’ve read this year.

  7. Linda E Ballantyne
    July 26, 2018 / 6:58 am

    Another beautiful book — All the Light We Cannot See, Anthony Doerr takes place during the war in Paris and Saint Malo.

    • Mary
      July 26, 2018 / 3:27 pm

      Loved that book!

  8. July 26, 2018 / 7:59 am

    The Tuscan Child was an enjoyable read and I took this one on my May trip to Tuscany. Another is I Found Myself in Tuscany by Lisa Condie. An account of Lisa when she sells her home in Salt Lake and moves to Florence not knowing one person and finds her purpose and path.
    Frances Mayes new book Women in Sunlight is wonderful. As a recent widow, I found these books very inspiring and am learning a new sense of bravery. I booked my first trip alone to Loire Valley and Normandy and 3 days in Paris next May. My first time back to Paris in 40 years, other than flying through it on connecting flights.

    Thanks Susan for helping me explore new style options for some of my favorite brands. French Kandee my new obsession. And also the great info on Paris.

  9. Carol Montanti
    July 26, 2018 / 8:54 am

    Although I struggled with The Little Paris Bookshop by Nina George a couple years ago, I know people who loved it. That author has a new one, similarly titled about a bistro, taking place in northern France.

    • Kathy Walsh
      July 26, 2018 / 4:05 pm

      I absolutely loved The Little Paris Bookshop and The Little French Bistro.

  10. Sandra
    July 26, 2018 / 11:07 am

    So many books, so little time! Recently read and recommend: Florida and Delicious Edible Birds, both books of short stories by Lauren Groff that each contain a story that takes place in France; Perfect Nanny by Leila Slimani (takes place in Paris and was a major best seller in France); Mars Room by Rachel Kushner; Ties by Domenico Starnone and Asymmetry by Lisa Halliday.

  11. sarah ross
    July 26, 2018 / 1:45 pm

    Forgive me if I’m overstating the obvious, but Martha Gellhorne was, as well as being an author in her own right, Ernest Hemingway’s first wife and, I seem to remember from college days, the model for the nurse and narrator’s lover in A Farewell to Arms.

  12. July 26, 2018 / 2:56 pm

    Hi…thanks for the great book ideas. I just finished The Room on Rue Amelie by Kristin Harmel. WWII Paris, resistance, it keeps you turning the pages long after bedtime. I have been loving Paris/French books as I just attended a Fete en Blanc last week and am still pretending I am in Paris!!! Can’t wait to read The Lost Vintage…just checked and our local library has it. What a treat to browse through a cool library on a hot summer day. Thanks again !

  13. Kathy Walsh
    July 26, 2018 / 4:14 pm

    I do have a recommendation. Paris, Paris: Journey Into the City of Light by the fabulous travel writer, David Downie. Really anything written by David Downie is fascinating. I just finished his A Taste of Paris: A History of the Parisian Love Affair with Food, which answers the question, what is it about the history of Paris that has made it a food lover’s paradise?

  14. July 26, 2018 / 5:56 pm

    I’m a former Library director and a francophile! Here is my very short list of must-reads.(1) “Suite francaise” by Irene Nemirovsky. The author was a French citizen and a respected author in the 1930s. French jews were expected to be protected as they were French citizens…did not happen! Her “Suite” was hand written and hidden in a suitcase which her daughters discovered years after her death in a Nazi concentration camp. (2) “The Nightingale” by Kristin Hannah…describes how French nationals ( two sisters in the novel) on the southern border between Nazi occupied territory and Vichy France dealt with the Nazi occupation.(3) Absolutely agree with “All the light we cannot see”…one of the best I’ve read!, (4) “Paris: a love story” by Katie Marton…about her marriage to correspondent Peter Jennings…wonderful book, more about marriage than Paris! Happy reading!!

  15. Joy Johnson
    July 30, 2018 / 4:28 pm

    And for those of you who speak French or who are OK with subtitles and are Amazon Prime members! For roughly $8.00/month, you can subscribe to MHz. It gives access to all kinds of European TV series, films, etc. I highly (cannot even say how much I loved this series) recommend “A French village” (Un Village Francais). It is a series that ran for, I believe, about 7 years, covering the beginning of German occupation…1940 until the end of WW II. Each individual series is about 10-13 episodes and the whole series is impeccably done. Very nuanced characters and a searing look at what it was like to live in a small French town (the fictional Villeneuve) on the border between German occupied France and the so-called free Vichy France. It is just marvelous (and will improve your colloquial French if you discount the swear words, which we wouldn’t want to use!!)…and will make you ask yourself..”What would I have done…for my family and/or for my country?”

  16. sf_dre
    July 30, 2018 / 4:31 pm

    I’m a fan of Bowen’s Royal Spyness cozy series of a penniless minor royal. It starts in 1932 and is up to sometime in 1935 (IIRC) as of the last one I read.

  17. July 31, 2018 / 6:54 am

    I read “Less,” which won the Pulitzer Prize this year. Light reading, I’d say, but with some passages so beautiful I found I dogeared the pages. BTW, it’s about travel;).

  18. Jane
    August 6, 2018 / 1:13 pm

    Try Lilac Girls by Martha Kelly. Very powerful WWII story based on a true story. Has a strong storyline tied to Paris. I loved it.

  19. Maggie Vita
    November 5, 2018 / 10:40 am

    Adding The Lost Vintage and Lilac Girls to my reading list for the plane to/from Mexico City (first visit!)

    If you’re spending $40 on a hair brush, try EcoTools cruelty-free brushes: Remember that not just makeup and products can be cruelty-free but beauty tools as well.

  20. Suzanne
    March 1, 2019 / 6:58 am

    Love, love your blog. And I’m very interested in the books listed. Also MHZ – wonder if my high school French will get me through it. High school was a looooong time ago!

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