Tag: France

Tony Hawks – A Piano in the Pyrenees | Review

Title: A Piano in the Pyrenees

Author: Tony Hawks

Type: Non-Fiction

Page Count: 312

Rating: 4/5

This non-fiction book tells the story of what happened when a middle-aged British comedian called Tony Hawks decided to buy a house in France, almost on a whim. He also decided to take his piano over there so that he could finally learn to play the thing.

It was a fun little book, and overall I found it to be a pleasure to work my way through it. My only real complaint would be that the pacing was a little off, in that it felt as though the whole book covered a period of just a couple of months or so.

Other than that though, there were some great little insights into French culture here, as well as a few smatterings of French dialogue that were enjoyable for me as someone who’s slowly but surely trying to learn the language. There were also some great little examples of culture shock or of misunderstandings, particularly when Hawks was trying to navigate the complicated French legal landscape to purchase properties and to build swimming pools, despite being utterly useless at assembling basic flat packs.

I’ve read a couple of Hawks’ other books at this point, and tonality and sense of humour wise, it’s pretty similar to those. That means that if you enjoyed Round Ireland with a Fridge, for example, then you’re probably going to enjoy this one too. Sure, his sense of humour might not be quite right for everyone, but Hawks has always made me laugh and he did so here, too.

There were occasional borderline sexist comments in it here and there, but then I suppose that gave it a certain sense of realness. He was a single bloke surrounded by Frenchwomen, after all. But overall, yeah.

Learn more about A Piano in the Pyrenees.

 


Susan Hill – The Small Hand | Review

Title: The Small Hand

Author: Susan Hill

Type: Fiction

Page Count: 208

Rating: 3.75/5

Susan Hill has this certain style about her that truly is inimitable, although that hasn’t stopped me giving it a go for a recent short story that I wrote. She just spins a great ghost yarn, especially when she’s dabbling in historical fiction cum horror.

I also appreciated the fact that the protagonist of this book was a rare book dealer on the hunt for a first edition Shakespeare Folio for a client. The hunt took him to France, which made me kind of sad because reasons, but at least it gave me an excuse to practice my French some more.

I’ve read quite a few of Hill’s ghost stories by this point, and this one is up there with the best. At the same time, there’s kind of not too much to mark any of the different books out, and I’ll probably not remember too much about this six months along the line. But that’s good, because then I could re-read it, and I think it would hold up well. I imagine it would make for a cracking audio book, too. So yeah, I’d definitely recommend it.

Learn more about The Small Hand.