Fiction is much more enlightening about a country and its people than are statistics, and if we want to find out and understand what a nation is really like, we must read its literature. In French Tales, Helen Constantine offers a panoramic view of French society and culture as seen through its short fiction, ranging through all twenty-two regions of France and featuring the work of an engaging collection of writers. Here are stories as varied as the regions of France themselves-dramatic, tragic, comic, poetic, ghostly, satirical. Readers will find both famous and little-known writers-among them Guy de Maupassant, Emile Zola, Daniel Boulanger, Didier Daeninckx, and Colette-and will wander the country from Provence and Alsace to Ile-de-France and Normandy. The themes are timeless-marriage and the dealings between the sexes; the nature of friendship; the misery and the memory of war-and the stories themselves reflect the rich ethnic diversity of France. Thus, Christian Garcin's story set in Lille has Flemish associations; Prosper Mérimée's Mateo Falcone, about an honor killing in Corsica, is in many respects more Italian than French; and Marcel Aymé's story about Arbi, an Arab in Paris living at the bottom of a cul-de-sac, illustrates only too well the plight of many North Africans who settled in the larger cities-Paris and Marseille especially. Following the model of the highly successful Paris Tales, also translated by Helen Constantine, each story is illustrated with a striking photograph and there is a map indicating the position of the French regions. There is an introduction and notes to accompany the stories and a selection of further readings.