Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Mission To Paris

 I've been noodling with l'heure bleue teapots...

 And atmospheric pomme...

 Whilst dipping into tres evocative Alan Furst's Mission To Paris.
Set in Paris, movie star Fredric Stahl, twice nominated for an Oscar, steps smartly into the caldron of late 1930s Europe. "I was born in Vienna, wandered about the world for a time, lived and worked in Paris, then, in the summer of 1930, Hollywood. I'm an American now," Stahl tells a woman he meets on a ship sailing to Paris.

 Some excerpts to get you enthralled in this period thriller:
In Paris, the evenings of September are sometimes warm, excessively gentle, and, in the magic particular to that city, irresistibly seductive. The autumn of the year 1938 began in just such weather and on the terraces of the best cafes, in the famous restaurants, at the dinner parties one wished to attend, the conversation was, of necessity, lively and smart: fashion, cinema, love affairs, politics, and, yes, the possibility of war — that too had its moment.

 ...he didn't want to work - the light fading outside the window, the gathering dusk, had reached him. It was l'heure bleue - time to be meeting a lover, looking for one. Well, he had nowhere to go. He put the script aside, went to the desk, found Hotel Claridge stationary and began to write a letter...

 ..."You're staying at the Claridge?" she said. "I just love that hotel, so much quieter than the Ritz."
A glass of champagne was put in his hand, a silver tray of caviar blini flew past. "They certainly make you comfortable," Stahl said.
 ...The cocktail party was in the drawing room, where splendid old paintings in elaborate gold frames - lords and ladies and cherubs and a few bare breasts - hung on the boiserie; walnut paneling that covered the walls. It was a stiff, formal room, with draperies of forest-green velvet, maroon taffeta upholstery, spindly chairs from royal times - chanting in chorus don't dare sit on me - and a mirror-polished eighteenth-century parquet floor. Against one wall, a huge marble-topped hunting table with gilt legs, a place to toss your pheasants when you came in from the field...If this room didn't intimidate you, Stahl thought, nothing would...

 It's 1938, when Jean Gabin's Le Quai des Brumes came out and Mission To Paris could not be more film noire if that's your taste...

 Loaded with atmospheric scenes right and left...

 Like mysterious train station rendevous essential to any noirish thriller...

 Exotic spies right and left, naf main character Frederic Stahl gets in over his head and it's fun to follow his toings and froings...

The perfect place to read Mission To Paris would be hanging out at a cafe nursing one cup of Joe all day, which by the way, Furst tells us, became a habit with Parisians who often had no heating at home back then. Who knew?


  1. I guess if I had to choose between no heat at home and (presumably: those big restaurant heaters seem to be a modern invention) no heat at the cafe...I'd choose the cafe, where they will wait on you!

    1. Interesting that the pro-eco forces in Paris are trying to ban the gas heaters as being high polluters etc.
      Always something...

  2. Love the dark, noir, thriller look of this book

  3. these "blues" teapots are amazing.

  4. So well put together..I'll look that book up:)

    Your photos must come to mind as you read the book?
    You have a treasure trove..

    Tes beaux bleus ne me donnent pas du tout les bleus:)
    Au contraire Carol:)

    PS Jacques loved Jean Gabin in movies.

  5. Lucinda3:16 PM

    Anything Jean Gabin-esque is appealing
    sounds very intriguing to say the least
    merci Lucinda

  6. Carol, I do like those blue teapots!

    I am also an Alan Furst fan and did enjoy the suspense and atmosphere of Mission to Paris.

    Think that Mr Furst might have already made his promo tour round the bookshops, but perhaps next time I will get to ask him a question or three.

    I do like his books.

    Don't you think that in NYC (with its overheated apartments)lots of coffee places ...Starbucks and the more attractive spots, find favor with folks who just need to get out of their tiny apartments, or away from their rent-sharing roommates?

    I still mourn the demise of La Fortuna on West 71 Street.


    1. I wonder about your Starbucks theory..
      Is Starbucks our cafes?
      Not much people watching in those darkened lairs IMHO.
      Nothing like the cafe chairs lined up to face the rue and who really works in a cafe besides the waiters?

  7. I love the watercolors and your photos - quite an eyeful on this post!
    The book sounds like a good one.....

  8. He paints nice images of Paris, your photos too..."in the magic particular to that city..." sigh...

  9. Carol I love those pots in the first image!!
    Tell me you are using payne's gray on that middle one? I LOVE payne's gray...

    1. no doubt there is a touch of paynes gray + cobalt blue + French ultramarine
      very sharp eyes Frances


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