Celebrating Georges Simenon

Yesterday I had the pleasure of attending a reception for bloggers to celebrate the legacy of Georges Simenon. It was hosted by the team that manage the Simenon estate in the UK, the venue was the Groucho Club, and this time I got to talk to everybody!

I was to have met Victoria there, but sadly trains didn’t work out and she was unable to come, however it was lovely to catch up with Sakura, and to meet a whole lot of new-to-me bloggers including: Sarah of Crimepieces; Andy of Euro But Not Trash; Charlie of The Worm Hole; Elizabeth of Fictionbitch and her author blog; and Ayo of Shotsmag.

DSC_0042The main attraction, however, was the chance of meeting Georges’s son, John (left, please excuse the fuzzy photo), who is heading up the renaissance of interest in his father’s work. It was a thrill to hear him talk lovingly of his father – who was always there for him – putting family above writing. John also talked about his father’s writing process – and very much like Maigret, he spent a long time letting everything come together in his mind before polishing his typewriter and writing.

John also had some exciting news for us – they are making a couple of new Maigret films for ITV – but you’ll never guess who will play the pipe-smoking detective – none other than Rowan Atkinson. Filming starts in the autumn for spring 2016. Interesting casting indeed! John confessed that he preferred Rupert Davies to Michael Gambon in previous UK TV series.

He was very laid back and lovely to talk to. I mentioned that I’d read one of the romans durs in preparation for the event: Three Bedrooms in Manhattan, and asked how autobiographical it was (review to follow), and he told me that it was basically a novelisation of how his mother and father met. Sweet!

We also discussed the wonderful new Penguin editions – their aim is to republish all of Simenon’s work, both Maigret and the romans durs, in new translations – they’re coming out at a couple per month. The Simenon estate really want the world to re-engage with his work – and I must say I’m very happy to do so. Having read probably half the Maigrets in my teens, I’ve started to read them again and found them very enjoyable. You can get a taster from Lizzy Siddals’ piece for Shiny New Books last year on the new Maigret reprints. I’m particularly looking forward to reading more of the romans durs though, I read Dirty Snow a few years ago, and it is so dark in comparison with the Maigrets – loved it – my review here.

It was a lovely afternoon. Thank you to John, Simenon.com and the estate team, and Penguin who supplied lots of Maigrets for us to take away.

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36 thoughts on “Celebrating Georges Simenon

  1. Are you reading the new editions? Although he had his business head on promoting them, John Simenon had great praise for the new translations which are much more alive.

  2. I had read there about some new Maigret TV versions – couldn’t believe they would cast Rowan Atkinson as Maigret. I can’t think of anyone less like Maigret physically, but will try to reserve judgement until I’ve seen how he plays him. He won’t be Rupert Davies that’s for sure – I just hope you won’t be Mr Bean!

    I shall certainly look at the new translations.

  3. Ooh, how lovely Annabel! Very jealous! I love the Maigrets but I have so many of them already I don’t know that I can justify the new ones – much as I’d like them… I’m also not entirely happy about Rowan Atkinson. Maigret is solid and reliable (Rupert Davies was perfect) and I can’t really see Rowan in that light…..

    • Apparently the new translations are far better than many of the old slightly plodding ones… When I first read Maigrets, they came from the library, so I’m enjoying some of the new ones. Atkinson isn’t solid enough I fear…

      • I can imagine the translations might be more consistent – oh, for unlimited time and money and shelf space…. As for Atkinson – I remain to be convinced! 🙂

  4. I was invited, but sometimes Scotland is just too far away. Still there is an event at the Edinburgh Book Festival this year, so I may get an opportunity to listen to John Simenon myself.

  5. I’ve been a fan of Simenon long enough to see his work rise to the beginnings of the respect it deserves. Since you mention film, I recently watched a film called The Blue Room based on the book of the same name. I think it was released in 2014. One of the problems, I think, with Simenon is that he was so very prolific that he was dismissed as a hack, but he is an incredible writer.

    • I’ll be doing lots of Simenon reviews soon after reading several – it’s the way there is absolutely no padding and the stories are complete within 160 pages that stands out for me.

  6. I’m really glad you enjoyed this event – it sounds wonderful. I had an invitation and was all set to go, but something happened at home which meant I had to change my plans for the day at short notice. Everything is okay now, but I’m so sorry that I couldn’t make it.

    In the meantime, I’m looking forward to your review of Three Bedrooms in Manhattan. The connection to Simenon’s own life is fascinating, isn’t it?

    • What a shame – we could have met! Still, another time, I hope. I bought it after your review Jacqui! I was so happy for his son to validate its basis it will definitely add an edge to my review.

  7. What a great afternoon. Sad Victoria couldn’t be there 😦 I like the fuzzy photo. Very atmospheric of a good mystery.

  8. Sounds like a great evening — I’d love to have been there. The new Penguins are excellent indeed. Not very convinced about Rowan Atkinson, but let’s give him the benefit of the doubt.

  9. It was a lovely event and so nice to see you Annabel! Can’t wait for the new TV series although I have to admit I was surprised about Rowan Atkinson too!

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  11. Hello everyone – if you’d like to get involved in the world of Georges Simenon, just drop me a line at maddy.pickard@gmail.com and we’ll send you some review copies, and keep you in the loop of any other events etc – and you can find out more at georgessimenon.co.uk. Thank you for the lovely blog, Gaskella!
    Maddy

  12. The event sounds lovely, definitely good to celebrate the new editions. As it’s been mentioned before in comments, Rowan Atkinson is an interesting choice. He might not be as solid a Maigret appears in text, though Alec Guinness is comsiderably different to the descriptions of George Smiley in Tinker Tailor.

  13. Oh you lucky lucky person. but thanks for sharing those titbits with those of us not so lucky to get an invite to this event. Atkinson as Maigret. Hmm that one is going to take some convincing for me.

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