London’s French expats get their own library


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The Independent Culture

Forget dog-eared Barbara Cartlands. A small London library has twinned with a counterpart in Paris to offer modern French-language classics from authors including Michel Houellebecq to appeal to the capital’s huge population from across the Channel.

The Church Street Library in Westminster hopes to attract French expats after it struck an entente cordiale with the Place des Fêtes library in Paris. The two libraries have already swapped 150 books.

The public library has received novels in French such as Houellebecq’s Les Particules Élémentaires – translated as Atomised in English – as well as works by JMG Le Clézio and Frédéric Beigbeder. It also has translations of works originally published in English, such as Harry Potter et Les Reliques De La Mort.

Julie Gadault, a librarian at Church Street who masterminded the partnership, said: “We now have a really good stock of modern novels, which will be extended to children’s books.” London is now France’s fifth largest city by population, with 400,000 French people.