Today I’m delighted to welcome authro Jill Culiner to Jen Med’s to help me spread a little more book love. We’ll take a look at all of Jill’s bookish choices, just as soon as we’ve learnt a little more about Jill herself.
Born in New York, raised in Toronto, Jill Culiner has lived in several cars, one closet, a Hungarian mud house, a Bavarian castle, a Turkish cave dwelling, in a haunted house on the English moors, in the Sahara desert, on a Greek island, in several French villages and has worked as a go-go girl, belly dancer, fortune teller, translator, newspaper deliverer, radio broadcaster, contemporary artist, photographer, actress and writer.
Sad Summer in Biarritz is her second mystery, following Death by Slanderous Tongue. Her other books are: Finding Home In the Footsteps of the Jewish Fusgeyers, winner of the Tannenbaum Award for Canadian Jewish History; Félix et moi: à la recherche du patrimoine; a photography book, Sans s’abolir pourtant. As J. Arlene Culiner, she has written several romances (.www.j-arleneculiner.com)
You can follow Jill on social media and her website:
Death by Slanderous Tongue
Welcome to Épineux-le-Rainsouin, a typical French village of yellow cement houses with PVC windows and roll-down PVC shutters. Here, village gossips observe all from behind their factory-made, crocheted curtains; intensive chicken farms produce record numbers of broilers; and culture is defined by television game shows.
When Didier, village employee, suddenly disappears, tongues wag: everyone knows he’s a lady’s man, too handsome, too charming for his own good. And after his body is discovered in his bath, more than one cuckolded husband sighs with relief. Equally relieved, are all the wives who knew Didier as a lover — and blackmailer.
But blackmail continues, and as village secrets are exposed, it seems unlikely that Didier’s death was accidental. Before Épineux-le-Rainsouin can again settle down to its usual torpor, corruption, illegal building schemes and farming abuses, a murderer must be found.
Sad Summer In Biarritz
I have now started my new life with its positive dynamic; by recording all details, I’ll see a pattern emerge. One day — perhaps in the very near future — I’ll peruse these notes with pleasure. One day. When I’m secure in love, in my own home, in happiness.
The narrator, a Canadian woman, hopes to change her life by moving to Biarritz. Having escaped a devastating relationship with the mentally unstable Dominique, she is determined to make new friends and find the perfect mate. But in this summer resort frequented by couples and families, available singles are lonely people, too often embittered by romantic failure. And if the young artist Vinnie has promised entry into local society, he remains an illusive figure.
When Vinnie’s body surfaces at the Pointe des Fous new rumours circulate. Had he really been a fortune hunter, a seducer and blackmailer, or just a gentle, over-sensitive man, a loser in love and friendship? The police have concluded his death was accidental, but doesn’t everything point to murder? Or is the narrator over-reacting? Perhaps loneliness and isolation have made her suspicious, for love is as unattainable as ever, and threatening letters from Dominique are arriving with increasing frequency.
Sad Summer in Biarritz, is a mystery, a story of the desperately lonely search for love, and a satirical portrait of French nouveau riche society in the 1980s.
Favourite book from childhood
The Trixie Belden mysteries, of course. I read them all over and over and when I wasn’t reading, I was busy pretending I was either Trixie, or her best friend Honey. Being Trixie was fun because she was fearless and intelligent, but her mother always made her do chores which I thought was no fun at all. So being Honey was better — her family had maids, butlers and pure luxury — but she was a rather over-protected, fearful girl. Both girls, however, had mysteries to solve and much adventure; that was more interesting than my life of school and family dullness.
The first book you fell in love with
The Catcher in the Rye by Salinger, of course. I identified so completely with Holden Caulfield. I was formed by his character, and I also rebelled. The difference was, I didn’t capitulate in the end although he did. He ended up in Hollywood, and I knew he would eventually become just another screenwriter or producer. I found that terribly disappointing because he hated films so violently. He just didn’t have the character to resist.
Biggest book crush
The book character you’re totally in love with
Herzog, the hero of Saul Bellow’s book. I want to make up for the bitchiness of his ex wife, and I also want to save him from the clutches of Ramona, his newest lady love. She’s not for you, I want to say to him. She’s all pretence, and the sort of person who always has tired feet and migraines. And just look how she always prepares the same meal for you, and always puts on that same irritating music.
Weirdest book crush
I love all the cranky ridiculous characters in Stella Gibbons Cold Comfort Farm. They are all so bizarre, I wish I could hang around with them all.
Hardest break up
The book you didn’t want to end
There are too many of them to list.
The one that got away
The book in your TBR or wish list that you regret not having started yet.
The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire by Edward Gibbon, completed in 1789. He traces Western civilization from the Roman Empire to the fall of Byzantium. Gibbon was also delightfully ironical. For example:
History…is, indeed, little more than the register of the crimes, follies, and misfortune of mankind
Guilty Reading pleasure
A good mystery written by Sue Grafton
Love one, love them all
Favourite series or genre
Literary fiction, Nineteenth century Eastern European history
Your latest squeeze
Favourite read of the last 12 months
Linda Grant: Still Here
Blind date for a friend
If you were to set a friend up with a blind date (book) which one would it be?
Saul Bellow’s Seize the Day. It is a truly wonderful book.
Greatest love of all
Favourite book of all time.
This is a question that is impossible for me to answer. There have been so many wonderful books written by so many brilliant writers…
Thanks Jill … Controversial though ducking away from that final answer there 😉 So what do you think folks? Any suggestions or recommendations for Jill that you think she’d like. I have to admit I’ve not really read many of these books but I’ve been interested in reading the Sue Grafton books for a while – I just have a lot to catch up on.
Have a fabulously bookish day and weekend all.