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Odile Nicoloso’s Favourites

FAREWELL, MY QUEEN by Chantal Thomas, Translated by Moishe Black, Published : Touchstone Books

An interesting historical novel to read after the visit to Versailles: "Les adieux à la reine" (Farewell to the Queen) by Chantal Thomas: a specialist of the 18th century, director of research at the CNRS, she has taught at many French and American universities.
The three days that followed the storming of the Bastille: 14, 15, 16 July 1789, ushered France and perhaps the world into a new era.
Les Adieux à la reine is the French Revolution, seen from the Court’s perspective: the account written in 1810 in Vienna by Marie-Antoinette’s faithful reader, of the latter’s farewell to her dear "favourite", Gabrielle de Polignac. However, this chronicle of the first days of the French Revolution is not just about their relationship, it is a precise account of the reactions that followed after the storming of the Bastille: King Louis XVI, who did not yet understand the revolt of the French people, the Court, which was attached to its privileges, and the Queen, who was little aware of reality.
The novel also describes the daily life of the courtiers who live in the Palace of Versailles, a real city where those called "les logeants" visit each other, sympathise or not. After the storming of the Bastille, sheer panic took hold of them. It would have been interesting to have a plan of the castle to better follow their escape in the maze of corridors, galleries, groves of the castle gardens...
Chantal Thomas delivers a striking portrait of 18th century French society. It is a true pleasure to read, written in beautiful style.
by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, Nigerian author
Published : September 12, 2006 by Knopf

Forty years ago, the Biafran war...
On the 30th of May 1967, Biafra declared its independence. This secession from Nigeria led to a three-year war, marked by famine among the civilian population. It made the front pages of the newspapers at the time, with their photos of underfed children, and it was at this time that the NGO Médecins sans Frontières was founded.

Inspired by her own familyChimamanda Ngozi Adichie tells the story of this conflict and the humanitarian drama that accompanies it. The action takes place on the Biafran side: the beautiful Olanna and the strong Kainene are twins, from a rich and influential Christian Ibo family. Olanna is an academic, in love with Odenigbo, a very committed intellectual, at whose house all the teachers meet to talk about Africa, the relationship with the British coloniser and to discuss what the world of tomorrow will be like. Kainene is an astute businesswoman who develops her father’s businesses. She is romantically involved with Richard, an Englishman who has discovered a passion for bronze casts from the ninth century discovered in Ibo country.
It is the end of the 1960s and the period of decolonisation is bringing tensions between ethnic groups to the surface. Eastern Nigeria is the richest region in terms of agricultural and mining resources, and above all it contains two thirds of the country’s oil reserves. It seceded and declared itself the Republic of Biafra. A tremendous hope is born, the population supports this project but this secession will not be tolerated. Food blockades, armed offensives and aerial bombardments will become the daily life of our characters. They will suffer the full force of the consequences of this war and their lives will drastically change from the banal to the tragic.

Odile Nicoloso