Patrick Marnham


France’s divided centre-right must delight Marine Le Pen

The leaders of the Républicains avoid Le Pen’s coarse language, but many offer similar immigration policies

Members of the Maquis study the mechanism and maintenance of weapons dropped by parachute in the Haute-Loire

The facts behind France’s most potent modern myth

Patrick Marnham unravels some of the powerful, often conflicting myths surrounding the French Resistance

Kamal Daoud (Photo: Getty)

The Outsider — from the viewpoint of the victim’s family

In 1975 the Nigerian novelist Chinua Achebe, in a lecture at the University of Massachusetts, identified Joseph Conrad’s Heart of…


Is Nicolas Sarkozy headed back to the Elysée – or to jail?

Destiny is calling Nicolas Sarkozy. But it’s not clear whether he’s heading back to the Elysée – or to jail

French and Colonial prisoners of war captured by German soldiers Photo: Getty

Némirovsky's love letter to the France that spurned her and killed her

By 1940 Irène Némirovsky, who had arrived in France at the age of 16 as a refugee from Kiev, had…

Georges Simenon aged 30 (left) and Jean Gabin (right) in the 1958 film Maigret Tend un Piège — to be shown as part of a season of Maigret films at the Barbican, London (4–26 October). For details visit

A salute to Georges Simenon

The full series of the Maigret novels, together with some of the romans durs, are being republished by Penguin Classics at a rate of one per month. Patrick Marnham salutes a magnificent long-term project.


France's political system is crumbling. What's coming next looks scary

The desperate state of its politics seems to signal the end of the Republic

Silvia Pinal in Buñuel’s Viridiana

There was good art under Franco

Everyone knows about the Spanish civil war, first battlefield in the struggle that broke out in 1936 and ended nine…

Test launch of Minuteman II ICBM at Vandenberg Air Force Base, California,  18 August 1965

When we dropped the Bomb by mistake

In January 1976 New York’s late-lamented National Lampoon produced a bicentennial calendar as a contribution to the general rejoicing. For…


Hollande runs into the sand

Even the dashing intervention in Mali might not she the French President


Making the bomb

Of the making of many books about J. Robert Oppenheimer there is apparently no end. There have been 23 previous…


French farce

Outsiders have added gaiety to the presidential election, but French voters feel that serious issues are being ignored

Sarkozy springs forward

There’s nothing like a crisis to rescue an ailing candidate


Funny old world

The most remarkable thing about this book is that it should have been published at all. No one could have…


Kisangani, capital of the province of Orientale, Democratic Republic of the Congo, once Zaire, is the setting for A Bend in the River, V.S.


Amid the encircling gloom

Africa is the setting for several of V. S. Naipaul’s finest fictional stories — In a Free State, A Bend in the River, Half a Life.


Kin, but less than kind

About 100 years ago two brothers settled in the same small English town and raised 12 children.

Because she’s worth it

The scandal over Liliane Bettencourt’s L’Oréal fortune is exposing the way French high society operates, says Patrick Marnham. And it is harming President Sarkozy in the polls


Is it all over for Sarko?

The French president’s chances of re-election look bleak. But the problem is not his politics, says Patrick Marnham, so much as his embarrassing personal life


The reality behind the novels

‘I never knew peaceful times’, Irène Némirovsky once said, ‘I’ve always lived in anxiety and often in danger’.

Disastrous twilight

With the opening paragraph of The Dogs and the Wolves (first serialised in France in 1939 and never previously translated) Irène Némirovsky takes us to the heart of her story: the complexities of Jewish life in eastern Europe and France in the first part of the 20th century.

Populist preaching

Patrick Marnham visits Brazil’s annual festival of literature


Not for the faint-hearted

The Kindly Ones, by Jonathan Littell, translated from French by Charlotte Mandell


Photopoetry, by Manuel Alvarez Bravo

They do things differently there

Africa: Altered States, Ordinary Miracles, by Richard Dowden