Le Rose et le noir by Catulle Mendès


Rating: ★★★ 1/2

Genre: Romance, short stories

Medium: French paperback

Synopsis: Compiled by Le Chat Rouge, this anthology offers a wide array of Mendès’ romantic short stories which include mummies, princesses, and lots of flower imagery.

Review: Wow!  Where to begin!  First of all, I have to say that French isn’t my first language, so my review likely reflects that.  From a bilingual perspective, this book certainly challenged my vocabulary and had me breaking out my French-English dictionary quite a few times.  The language used in Mendès’ work is literary, figurative, and downright beautiful.  I wish I had read this alongside a river (or a lake), when the sun is shining, preferably with a flower in my hair–as opposed to in my bed, afraid of the dull, rainy winter.

I think out of all the short stories, La Momie is my favorite–it has just the right amount of deception and creepiness to it.  But, Mendès has quite the creative mind, so if a romance story involving a mummy isn’t for you, there’s sure to be something else in store.  He also has stories about princesses, stories about sacred trees, and stories about flowers.  Within some stories, the structure is absolutely beautiful, with an a parable-like feeling to them.  The way he introduces each story is unique, and each final sentence has a literary lilt to them: the kind that makes you wonder just how you ended up right where you are at that moment, and why you aren’t somewhere calmer, with less pollution, and with more charm.

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