Sean's Reviews > L'homme à l'envers

L'homme à l'envers by Fred Vargas
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's review
Apr 10, 2008

liked it
bookshelves: mystery, non-us, foreign-language
Recommended to Sean by: Thorn
Read in April, 2008

Just started this. I haven't read a book in French in a couple years--not since Japrisot's Un long dimanche de fiançailles . Possible plus: this is a high school ("collège") edition, with reading questions after each section (will help me stay on track!) and definitions of the harder words. Possible minus: there are reading questions after each section (talk about annoying), and the text defines words I already know (such as "précepte") instead of ones I don't/didn't (such as "déchiqueté"). Plus, the "definitions" are extremely loose, mostly consisting of a word that works in context in the narrative but which is in no way a synonym for the term being defined.

Anyway. I'll post my review of the book here when I'm done.

Oh, and Fred Vargas is a woman--real name Frédérique Audoin-Rouzeau. Who knew?

UPDATE: I finished this yesterday, and am still not sure exactly how I feel about it. It took me a long time to slog through, but I'm not sure how much of it was the author's fault and how much was the fault of my limping French. A couple of times I considered switching to the English translation, but I couldn't read more than three sentences of that before I laughed out loud at the ridiculous choices the translator had made and put it back down.

I guessed the twist ending quite early on, which is a bad thing in a mystery. But the characters were all very interesting and often hilarious, and I learned a great deal of French vocabulary, slang and idioms that I probably wouldn't have picked up anywhere else. I think I'll try out some of Vargas's other books to see if they get better. In all, I'm giving this three out of five stars.

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Comments (showing 1-2 of 2) (2 new)

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Writerlibrarian I have to say I don't really read Vargas for the mystery more for the style and the characters. You might enjoy L'homme aux cercles bleus which is the first Adamsberg novel. Vargas is more style and atmosphere than mystery.

Sean Thanks for the recommendation, Writerlibrarian. I've placed L'Homme aux cercles bleus on order at the library and am looking forward to reading it.

Also, yours is the same conclusion about Vargas's style I eventually came to, but I never went back and updated my review. Consider this comment that update!

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