Translated from the French novel:
Boston un hiver si court
by Alain Briottet
NOVEMBER 5, 2020
About the Book
Boston, My Blissful Winter follows a young French banker experiencing Boston for the first time as an intern at a downtown bank in the 1980s. Seeking to overcome his solitude, he visits the city’s concert halls, jazz clubs, businesses, museums, cafes, theaters, antique shops, fine restaurants and local diners. He rubs elbows with Boston Brahmins, academics, a struggling musician and a librarian, among others. With vivid images of winter and a keen eye for detail, these twelve stories bring the unique character of the city to life and offer a glimpse into the heart and soul of the thoughtful narrator.
Alain Briottet devoted his life to a career in French Diplomacy. He served in Europe, America, and Asia, and held several positions in collaboration with the French Ministers of Foreign Affairs in Paris and throughout the world. Boston, un hiver si court, (published in English as Boston, My Blissful Winter, Memories of the 1980s), a series of 12 short stories, is a reflection of his appointment in Boston during the 1980s as Consul General of France. He later served as French Ambassador to Rangoun, Helsinki, and Dacca, the Organization of the Carribean States, and the Antilles-Guyana Zone. In 2001, he oversaw the coordination between the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the parliamentary mission investigating the events at Srebrenica. In 2016, he published a novel devoted to his father, a French officer and prisoner of war in Germany: Sie Die, Gross-Born en Pomeranie (Editions Illador-Versailles). Among his many awards, Alain Briottet was honored as a Commander in the French Legion of Honor, an Officer in the Ordre National du Mérite, Chevalier des Arts et des Lettres, and received an Honorary Doctorate from Assumption College in Worcester, Massachusetts. He currently lives in Paris. (Read more by clicking on the ABOUT drop down menu.)
About the Author
About the Translator
Paulette Boudrot, (Letendre, Johnson) born in Fall River, Massachusetts, earned a BS in Education from Bridgewater State University, an MA in French Language and Literature from Middlebury College in Vermont, and a diploma in Twentieth-Century French Literature from the Sorbonne, University of Paris as a Fulbright Scholar. Paulette taught French and ESL in elementary schools, colleges, and universities in Massachusetts and Rhode Island. During the 1980s, she transitioned from education to administration at the French Cultural Services at the French Consulate in Boston. In 1995, she founded PLJ Administrative & Business Solutions, outsourcing administration and project management for small to medium sized companies. In 2010, she was awarded the status of Chevalier in the Order of Academic Palms by the French government. Paulette is an active member of Rotary International and currently resides in Cape Cod, Massachusetts. Boston, My Blissful Winter is her debut literary translation. (Read more by clicking on the ABOUT drop down menu.)
Praise for French Version
“Boston, un hiver si court” by Alain Briottet.
The keen eye and pen of French author Alain Briottet deftly sketches the luminous beauty of Boston’s soul in winter. I became viscerally engaged and surprised by his character’s discovery of the cityscape, its neighborhoods and the interior spaces where Bostonians retreat from the cold, seeking companionship and shelter. This book marvelously reveals the elusive and timeless qualities of our town that lead me to seek out the unexpected during all its seasons.
Barbara de Bragança,
Former President of the Alliance Française de Boston-Cambridge
Trustee of the French Cultural Center, Boston, MA
The keen observer in Boston, My Blissful Winter, not only introduces us to specific Boston locations and neighborhoods but also to a variety of denizens, iconic individuals, young and elderly, ranging from Brahmins to French Canadians. Challenging weather, and musical motifs enhance the unforgettable portraits, creating an atmosphere at once nostalgic and palpable. The prose reads like poetry and the vivid descriptions remain as relevant today as when they were written.
Retired Lecturer, Tufts University
Chevalier, Officier des Palmes Académiques
A perfect jewel box of novellas, Alain Briottet, created his characters with the eye of a portrait painter. His stories unfold like short films expressing a humanity and universality that will appeal to all those who cherish memories of a city they love.
Retired French teacher, Greenwich, CT.
The charming recollections of a Frenchman’s first encounters with Boston society. The young banking intern recounts his impressions of familiar places, from the Ritz to the Blue Diner, with original perceptions and affectionate humor. Deftly rendered into English from the original French, this is a book to savor and return to again and again to re-visit a favorite story.
Mary Louise Burke, President
Boston/Strasbourg Sister City Association
During his posting to the French Consulate in Boston, Ambassador Alain Briottet came to observe and befriend neighbors of Beacon Hill with whom he came to feel a common bond. Now, in twelve luminous novellas, he shares observations and insights of encounters, that are often brief, may mark you permanently. The author/Briottet’s compassion and gift for rich friendships provide moving portrayals that belie the stereotype of frigid, puritanical Brahmins. Paulette Boudrot’s admirable translation of his lyrical prose reveals that though winter in Boston may be cold, the lives of the inhabitants are decidedly not.
Margaret Collins Weitz, Author
“Sisters in the Resistance: How Women Fought to Free France 1940-1945
Boston is here, revealed in its many hues. Each story presents a different situation affording the chance to experience the tiniest wonder — changes in the atmosphere, footsteps in the snow, the slant of a winter sun — all captured in the author’s crystal-clear, thoughtful and detailed writing. He makes us see and feel what he has seen and felt, offering us the fabric of a life that we discover to be our own.
Alain Malraux, Playwright, Paris
In sensitive, lyrical prose, these short stories highlight the ephemeral nature of time, as experienced by a young intern who spends a winter working at a large bank in Boston. The parallels between his experience and that of the author, a career diplomat stationed in Boston during the 1980s, are unmistakable. It is the contrast between the harmony of nature and the disruption of the real world that is the strength of this collection; these stories make you think about life.
Honorary Director, Library & Archives
French Senate, Paris
Reading Boston, un hiver si court I hear a resuscitated Talleyrand telling me that “Those who did not live before September 11 don’t know the sweetness of living.” My dear Boston in the eighties is masterfully summoned by Alain Briottet, not so much through an evocation of sweetness than by the melancholy and understated sharpness of its vignettes which create a stirring poetry.
André Citroën, Paris
BOSTON My Blissful Winter
Translated by Paulette Boudrot
BOOK REVIEW – KIRKUS REVIEW -
A highly pleasant collection of episodes set in a vanished Boston.
A debut volume of short stories evokes Boston in the 1980s.
Narrated by a Frenchman who—partly due to his outsider status—becomes a keen observer of Boston’s people and rhythms, the tales in this collection take a closer look at some of the daily happenings there that might otherwise be ignored. In one, he spends a winter evening people-watching through the window of the Dolce Momento Café, commenting on the acquaintances he sees hurry by. In another, he goes to Faneuil Hall to judge an ice sculpture competition—the works are all in the form of the Statue of Liberty—with his personal assistant and her 5-year-old son in tow. In a third, he visits Lowell, Massachusetts, during a year-long celebration of the city’s favorite son, Jack Kerouac. “He could not understand why I liked Lowell,” writes Briottet of a friend who often worked in the city. “I told him that Lowell was one of a small number of cities that have a mystery—a hidden sense about them that is not apparent right away—and that you are drawn to them precisely for that reason.” Such incidental writings—more travelogue than literary fiction—make up the bulk of the book, originally in French. The author’s prose, as rendered by debut translator Boudrot, is leisurely and light: “It was easy for me to spot the people from Beacon Hill because they had certain mannerisms: they always walked at a certain pace, and dressed in a certain manner. They lived in the neighborhood, and the streets were familiar to them: strolling would mean they were not from Beacon Hill.” With its color and observations of class and atmosphere, the volume almost feels as though it were set in a time longer ago than the ’80s . . . Briottet achieves a magic that only visitors from another culture are usually capable of: He takes the familiar and, through his unjaded perspective, makes it seem exotic and remarkable.
I love being transported on a trip through Boston through the eyes of a Frenchman. It’s captivating, and I am learning things about Boston that I did not know!
La Société Francophone de Cape Cod
,,,,,thank you Paulette for introducing us to theses wonderful short stories.
Falmouth Newcomers Book Club
I have already read the first few chapters and the book is beautifully translated. You have done Alain proud!!
Retired Teacher, CT
I enjoyed a uniquely nostalgic trip back to the Boston of the 1980's through these twelve interconnected stories narrated by a French banker living and working in the city. To him, Greater Boston and its people are exotic. The experiences and relationships the author explores gave me a fresh perspective on a well remembered time and place. Translator Paulette Boudrot has rendered the work in an idiomatic and charming style. Well done.
Member, Yarmouth, MA
Age Friendly Community Team
I've just completed this delightful memoir, cleverly presented by a series of essays/episodes of a young French diplomat's life when he was assigned to his country's consulate in Boston in the early '80s. Not only am I an American francophile, having studied in France in the '60s, but I love the city of Boston. To say this book resonated with me is an understatement. Initially I felt the text somewhat "dated" but within the first few pages, I found myself transported to my favorite American city. As the Kirkus reviews mentioned, this newly minted translator's work is "leisurely and light", to which I say "Amen"! Even if you're not a francophile, you'll enjoy this book which combines a memoir and a travelogue. Heart-warming!
Sturgis Library, Trustee
Rotary Club of Weymouth
Monday, August 31, 6PM
Interview with host Paul Letendre
SouthCoast Matters: Bridging the South Coast ThruPublic Access TV
West Falmouth Library
Wednesday, November 4, 7:00PM.
November 14, 2020
November 18, 2020
Paulette Boudrot, Translator
Alain Briottet, Author
To purchase personalized books signed by translator
Boston My Blissful Winter is available at:
Eight Cousins, Falmouth, MA
Titcombs Bookshop, Sandwich, MA
Market Street Bookstore, Mashpee, MA
Barnes and Noble
Request at your local library
© Paulette Boudrot