9 short novels to read in French
Whether you’re looking to discover a new author, or you want to find out about the writing styles of different writers, there’ll be a short story that’s suitable for you to read in French. Let’s dive into a selection of short stories by nine outstanding French writers. Below you’ll find a brief summary of each short novel.
1. The woman destroyed by Simone de Beauvoir
The woman destroyed by Simone de Beauvoir reveals that Monique, a woman, discovers that her husband is considering ending their relationship. He is having an extramarital affair with another woman. Her world, which was centered around her husband, collapses. Monique shares in her diary the many feelings that assail her and the battles she leads to ensure that the world she has built does not crumble.
2. Carmen by Prosper Mérimée
Carmen is the one who takes all the risks in her group of smugglers. She relies on her beautiful smile to initiate plans and approach potential prey. She will have Jose de Maria at her feet, a brigand who became a smuggler and then an assassin because she fell into her trap of seduction. This loving attachment will eventually turn into an all-consuming passion that could lead to a crime.
3. The necklace by Guy de Maupassant
Over the course of his short career, Maupassant wrote over three hundred short stories. In this story, The Necklace, Maupassant describes how a brave and beautiful young woman will be thrown into an emotional hell because of her pride and her desire to be seen.
4. Le Bal by Irène Némirovsky
Antoinette has just turned fourteen; she dreams of attending the bal, which is organized by her parents to celebrate their newly acquired fortune. However, her mother, who is more anxious to finally take advantage of this long-awaited opulence than to bring her daughter into the world, refuses to invite Antoinette to the bal. His daughter decides to take her revenge in a terrible and relentless manner. Enjoy reading Le Bal by Irène Némirovsky.
5. Memoirs of a Madman by Gustave Flaubert
Gustave Flaubert, at the age of 17, presents to us, through this partly autobiographical novel, the disillusioned assessment of an impossible first love: Memoirs of a Madman. The author explains what motivates him to write by taking what is considered abnormal and turning it into something mundane.
6. Les enfants terribles by Jean Cocteau
Paul and Elisabeth are brother and sister. This novel, Les enfants terribles, begins with Paul suffering from a cold following a snowball fight. Paul admires Dargelos, the man who sent the projectile during the snowball fight. Paul is surrounded by his sister and one of his friends, who admire him. Gérard will soon develop romantic feelings for Elisabeth. Paul, Elisabeth, and Gérard soon play a threesome game, and soon Agathe, an orphan brought back by Elisabeth, will be involved. In this microcosm, touching and fraternal love can have something unhealthy, and can turn to drama.
7. Simple passion by Annie Ernaux
Passion is a novel by Annie Ernaux. In this novel, Annie Ernaux shares her love story with a married man she loved passionately. Although the relationship was brief, it was intense and painful.
8. The man who planted trees by Giono
This book is a celebration of nature with hope and optimism. The story of the man who planted trees teaches us that small everyday gestures can have an impact on the whole world. It is the story of a shepherd who solitary lives in an old stone house. The man is a mature and reassuring man. He is peaceful and lives in sync with the nature. Paradoxical, by protecting the nature, he also helps his neighbor. In fulfilling his dream of turning an arid and desolate moor into a fertile land inhabitable by his other people, he indirectly demonstrates philanthropy.
9. The Last Day of Condemned Man by Victor Hugo
At 27 years, Victor Hugo publishes this short novel whose main character is anonymous. We don’t know the details of his crime, but we know that he will be executed by the guillotine in a few hours. This novel immerses us in the moods of a condemned man without a future, as well as the psychological torture caused. Victor Hugo condemns the practice, but also the people who pay for their place to see the condemned in their dungeon and to occupy the best place during the execution.
Browse our book club worksheets
You can access the worksheets in French for the books that the online group read by joining the book club. You’ll find the list of books, like The Last Day of a Condemned Man, along their reading sheets.