I had lunch with a dear friend this week who, after the avocado and bean salad but before the jaffa slice, excused herself and took a call; "Ah bon jour, ma cherie!" she answered, pricking my newly Francophiled interest.
[Please note, I've left the acute accent off the first 'e' in 'cherie' for authenticity as she was speaking rather than writing and I thus couldn't see it. Also, I can't figure out how to do it in blogger.]
My friend, it turns out, speaks and reads French fluently and has taught her daughter the same during long car trips and chilly winter evenings. They now converse, entirely for fun, entirely in French. They are my newest dual heroes.
I asked my friend if there was any merit to the idea of learning French by translating a novel and she answered enthusiastically "oui oui!" (sorry, I promise that's the last bad French-word joke; it's also the end of my current French vocab). My friend said that she knew of someone who had translated all seven parts of Proust's In Search of Lost Time into English for precisely that reason.
Happily I'm nowhere near that masochistic so have shortlisted but two novels:
1. All those who vote I translate Hugo's Les Miserables, say 'aye'
2. All those who vote I translate Danielle Steele's A Bon Port, say 'aye carumba!'
So, what'll it be?