Cara here. Before I forget I want to second Meg's mention of Fred Vargas' (did you know she's a woman and well-respected medieval scholar in her field but her outspoken left wing politics has made her the scrutiny of certain, let's just say, French security services?) The Three Evangelists. It just won one of the those Dagger awards in London...Adrian Muller sent me the list but there are so many Daggers. the Silver, the Ian Fleming etc that I lost count. But I think it's the award for Best Novel in Translation. But don't quote me, there was such a brouhaha about it last year when a translated novel won one of the awards that it's all gone muddy for me.
This weekend a little bit of France is coming to us. In the form of Antoine, an 18 year old, six foot nine and still growing, boy from Toulouse. Yes, they grow them big down there near the Pyrenees...but we love him and it's the second summer he's come to stay with us. He and my 17 year old son are big buddies...it's so funny to hear them communicate since my son's French is based on high school Spanish mixed in the with slang he's picked up in France...kind of a mondo mix. Antoine will bunk for a month in my son's room and to compensate for his feet that always hang over the mattress, we'll add part of a futon. Poor thing always bangs his head on the doorframe, too. Last summer Antoine's family invited my son to France and to go along on their vacation in Umbria with three other French families. I kept asking my son how he communicated in the small hillside village they stayed in and he said, "Well, I can say gelato, mom, that's the important thing." Turns out he said gelato a lot and he and Antoine were the hit of the girls in the village, especially of a certain Maria. Antoine's mother is a doctor and his father is a chocolatier so I did feel my son was in good hands and all 'bases' covered...and to think when I was his age the only place we went on vacation was Yosemite! Where, of course, we will take Antoine this summer...it's no Umbria or medeival Lucca (which my son said was his favorite place in Italy) but for Antoine it's America and beautiful and let's hope we can find a sleeping bag long enough for his legs!