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Translated from the French novel:
Boston un hiver si court
by Alain Briottet
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
BOOK REVIEW – READER VIEWS - 5*s
Charming and Timeless
“Boston, My Blissful Winter,” is a collection of twelve short stories that take place during the cold, but captivating, winter months in Boston. Author Alain Briotett was the Consul General of France in Boston during the 1980s. While Briotett lived around the world during his career in foreign diplomacy, this novel focuses solely on Boston during the wintertime. The author uses his talent for storytelling to introduce us to this historic place through the protagonist, a Frenchman who is interning at a downtown bank. Readers witness the local characters through his eyes, as they interact with each other and react to the Boston winter climate. It is interesting to follow him as he connects with the locals who come from a variety of ethnic and social backgrounds. Some represent old wealth, and are well known, and then there are others that are young and still finding their way.
While these stories take place in the 1980s, I found that there is a sense of timelessness to them because they take place in an area where etiquette and social norms were a critical part of life and they could have easily been written at least 100 years earlier. This is especially apparent around Beacon Hill, because it had changed little and was still one of Boston’s oldest neighborhoods. The 1980s that took place here differed greatly from the 1980s I experienced in my teen years. I remember those days as being colorful and kind of ridiculous. It was a fun time for me, with much less emphasis on social decorum than what was required in this affluent area.
Briottet did a beautiful job of capturing my attention while I viewed the world through the thoughtful eyes of the protagonist. He made me feel like I was actually there, observing the sights and circumstances alongside the young banker, rather than just reading about it...I hope that Alain Briottet has more works like this in store for us about other places he has lived.
Reviewed by Paige Lovitt for Reader Views (07/2021)
,,,,,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
I am loving Paulette's translation of Boston, un hiver si court. It fills me with pangs of nostalgia.
Boston/Strasbourg Sister City Association
Rotary Club of Weymouth
August 31, 2020
West Falmouth Library
November 4, 2020
November 14, 2020
Conversations with hosts
Paul Letendre & Rebecca Hyman
SouthCoast Matters:Public Access TV
December 2, 2020
November 18, 2020
March 11, 2021 - Bourne/Sandwich Rotary Club, MA
May 6, 2021 - La Quinzaine, Worcester, MA
Enter PassCode +#DWtQm2
November 18, 2020
Feast of Kings
Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum - Chapter 6
Lunch At The Somerset
Paulette Boudrot, Translator
Alain Briottet, Author
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Boston My Blissful Winter is available at:
© Paulette Boudrot