Our Favorite French Fiction of 2019!

As 2019 comes to a close, we have taken a look back at the fiction that has enthralled us this year! Ranging from instant classics, to historical novels, to acute descriptions of our times, to fascinating family sagas, here are our favorite novels of 2019.

Reading List

Encre sympathique by Patrick Modiano

« Comment démêler le vrai du faux si l’on songe aux traces contradictoires qu’une personne laisse derrière elle ?»

The narrator of Encre Sympathique, a private detective (or a budding writer?) investigates on the disappearance of Noelle Lefebvre and collects souvenirs and scattered fragments of a nebulous past. This is Modiano at his best!

Encre sympathique, a (splendid) novel by Patrick Modiano, Gallimard

Le Ghetto intérieur by Santiago Amigorena

Santiago Amigorena recounts the tale of his Polish grandfather who moved to Buenos Aires in 1923–where he got married and started a family, leaving behind his family in Warsaw as well as his Jewish identity.
Le Ghetto intérieur tells the story of this amnesia and its consequences in light of World War II.

Le Ghetto intérieur a novel by Santiago Amigorena, POL

Rose désert by Violaine Huisman

At first glance, Rose désert, Violaine Huisman’s second novel might seem like a piece of travel writing—a long trek that leads her from Morocco to Senegal after the end of a relationship. If Violaine knows what her destination is, she still has no idea where she is headed. The narrative of the different encounters that come to pass as the journey progresses is interlaced with flashbacks of the narrator’s passionate love story, one that is both formative and destructive. Read more.

Rose désert, Violaine Huisman, éditions Gallimard

On ne peut pas tenir la mer entre ses mains is deeply moving family novel, a heart-wrenching love letter to a mother too soon departed, and a rare and admirable reassessment of one’s free will. In terms of intensity and twists and turns, Laure Limongi had the material to write an action-packed novel on the scale of the Corleone saga. But she chose instead to step aside and to paint her characters in shifting light, revealing their strengths and their dark sides. Read more.

On ne peut pas tenir la mer entre ses mains by Laure Limongi, éditions Grasset.

Le Bal des folles by Victoria Mas

In this panoramic portrait of Paris in the late-nineteenth century, the wildly gifted debut author Victoria Mas provides us with an entirely unique perspective on the city by portraying it through the lens of the women incarcerated in the notorious asylum l’Hospice de la Salpetrière. Read more.

Le Bal des folles, a debut novel by Victoria Mas, éditions Albin Michel

La Mer à l'envers by Marie Darrieussecq

Rose, a psychologist in her forties, is spending her Christmas vacation on a Mediterranean cruise with her two children.
As Rose ponders whether she should leave her husband or move with him out of Paris, her ship rescues a boat with African refugees. Read more.

La Mer à l’envers, a novel by Marie Darrieussecq, P.O.L.

Other recommendations by Albertine Team