Welcome to Travel Readings
Melbourne: The Slap by Christos Tsiolkas
Books, Movies and Beyond…
Books, Movies and Beyond…: Washington, DC and New York
Books, Movies and Beyond…: Rome
Rio de Janeiro: Crimes of August (Agosto) by Rubem Fonseca
Istanbul: The Museum of Innocence by Orhan Pamuk
Liège (Belgium): Pedigree by Georges Simenon
Books, Movies and Beyond…: Lisbon
Books, Movies and Beyond…: Cambodia
Hyde Park, Chicago: Ravelstein by Saul Bellow
Paris: Flowers of Ruin and Suspended Sentences by Patrick Modiano
Books, Movies and Beyond…: Naples
Books, Movies and Beyond…: Tanzania
Sri Lanka: Running in the Family by Michael Ondaatje
Books, Movies and Beyond… : Venice
Dublin: The Dead by James Joyce
Books, Movies and Beyond: Iran
Santa Cruz, Bolivia: The Matter of Desire (Materia del Deseo) by Edmundo Paz Soldán
Books, Movies and Beyond: Syria
Djibouti: Passage of Tears (Passage des Larmes) by Abdourahman Waberi
Books, Movies and Beyond: Armenia
Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso: The Parachute Drop by Norbert Zongo
Bangkok: Sightseeing by Rattawut Lapcharoensap
Périgord, France: The Caves of Périgord by Martin Walker
Books, Movies and Beyond: Brussels
Naples: The Neapolitan Novels by Elena Ferrante
Books, Movies and Beyond: Rio de Janeiro
Tajikistan: Hurramabad by Andrei Volos
New-York: City on Fire by Garth Risk Hallberg
Israel and Palestine: To the End of the Land by David Grossman and Wild Thorns by Sahar Khalifeh
Books, Movies and Beyond: Bavaria and Southern Germany
Cape Town: Boyhood, Youth and Summertime by J.M. Coetzee
Books, Movies and Beyond: India
Blue Ridge Mountains: Cold Mountain by Charles Frazier
Books, Movies and Beyond: Algeria
Austrian Alps: A Whole Life (Ein ganzes Leben) by Robert Seethaler
Books, Movies and Beyond: Africans in America
Zimbabwe: The Last Resort by Douglas Rogers
Books, Movies and Beyond: Colombia
Belgian Ardennes: The All Saints’ Day Lovers by Juan Gabriel Vásquez
Côte d’Ivoire: Aya of Yop City by Marguerite Abouet and Clément Oubrerie
Japan: Haruki Murakami and Amélie Nothomb
Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York: The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt and The Rope and The Denial of Saint Peter by Charles Baudelaire
Books, Movies and Beyond: Cairo
Vancouver: What is Remembered by Alice Munro
Ghent (Belgium): War and Turpentine by Stefan Hertmans
Haiti: An Aroma of Coffee and Dining with the Dictator by Dany Laferrière and The Comedians by Graham Greene
Iceland: Jar City by Arnaldur Indriðason
Siena and Tuscany : Il Palio delle contrade morte by Fruttero & Lucentini and The English Patient by Michael Ondaatje
China : Wild Swans. Three Daughters of China, by Jung Chang
Amsterdam: The Miniaturist by Jessie Burton

Périgord, France: The Caves of Périgord by Martin Walker

English is frequently spoken in Périgord: aboard the kayaks gliding down the Dordogne, in the castles pointing their keeps and towers above the tree line or on the terraces at which duck confits, truffles and foie gras are served, in the heart of towns and villages which have maintained their charm across the centuries. Is this a remain of the Hundred Years War waged in this region by French and English knights fighting for a few strongholds?  Or rather the consequence of Ryanair flights putting Stansted airport a few minutes and pounds away from Bergerac? Many Britons have even set home, sometimes half-time, in the area, renovating with taste old houses made of yellow stones, taking advantage of a sunny but soft weather and discovering the local cuisine.

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Among these « Périgord-gentlemen», Martin Walker is a former journalist who started an internationally acclaimed series of crime novels: « Bruno, Chief of Police » whose main character is a municipal policeman in Dordogne. But the book I read last summer during my family vacations is a different one: « The Caves of Périgord ».

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The novel covers three periods in parallel: prehistory, World War II and in particular the Resistance against the German Occupation and the present. Lydia Dean, a young American art historian who is not getting anywhere in a prestigious auction house in London, receives a package containing a cave fragment. The paintings on this rock are clearly among the nicest examples of cave art, but they have never been catalogued. They suggest a technique and an art even more advanced than in Lascaux.

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Black deer, Lascaux

The package is brought to her by Manners, a British officer who found this rock fragment on his recently deceased father’s desk. Manners senior did support the French resistance during WWII and befriended Malrand, the young chief of a local network, who is now France’s President. Malrand is an interesting character, both attractive and seducer, an amusing mix of historical figures André Malraux and François Mitterrand. Is he behind the theft of the rock in the London safe house, a feat which might only be possible for secret services? Why does he seem to create hurdles for the investigations to find the new caves? Does he have a secret to hide? What was the role played by Marland, Manners senior and a young American officer at the end of the war when the SS division « Das Reich » was burning villages on its way North and the communist resistance was trying to get into power?

The two stories make a brilliant intrigue that I enjoyed reading during my family vacations in Perigord, with a glass of Bergerac wine next to the swimming pool. But the most fascinating story was the one during the prehistory. At the beginning, I was doubtful. I don’t think I know of any work of fiction covering that period and I was afraid of a stereotyped approach. To the contrary, I was really taken by this tale of artistic rivalry between a dominant painter and a young apprentice, of thwarted love and power struggles. An impressive success which makes a visit to Lascaux even livelier.

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Laudonie

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