In my absence, a good book to read

I’m not here! Hopefully this post has appeared as if by magic in my blog – it was scheduled to. Let’s hope it worked. Chris and I have abandoned the farm and the family for a night away and a morning doing something very interesting, which I’ll tell you about tomorrow.

In the meantime, a book review. I’ve read lots of living in France books recently, as research for helping me write my own. There have been a frankly frightening amount of disappointing ones, I have to say. I don’t like giving bad reviews so I shall ignore those ones concentrate on those that are worth picking up. Such as this one.

C’est La Folie by Michael Wright (Bantam Press, 2006)

First time round I didn’t finish this book. It is quite long book at 446 pages (the hardback version) and, well, I’m someone who gives up easily. My excuse is that I was just too busy establishing my own new life in France, in the same region as this book is set, Limousin, but right on the northern limits. But having come back to C’est La Folie, I found it completely captivating. Michael Wright is a very readable writer, he has plenty of interesting things to say and he paints French life in a sensitive, honest way. Too many life-in-France books go for a cheap laugh by stereotyping the French characters and make them all look like idiots. Not this one. We see real people who yes, have habits that may seem strange to us coming from a different culture, and idiosyncrasies like the rest of us, but who as a whole can’t do enough to help out and be friendly. Like the author himself.

OK, he’s a bit soft about his animals (but so am I!), and OK, he’s hardly renovator of the year, but he throws himself into his new life with a vengeance and admirably so. For families who move abroad, the children usually provide the gateway into the new culture, since they drag you, the parents, to the school gates and teacher meetings and onto school committees. You soon get to know other people. For someone on his or her own it must be much more difficult. But Wright has his aeroplane, his tennis and his music – and his simple desire to get on with his fellow human beings. These bring him into the midst of French life. However, his loneliness is palpable at times, but he’s a tough guy and keeps himself going. You laugh and nearly cry as you turn the pages.

This is an excellent book – entertaining, interesting, revealing and enjoyable. I defy you not to like it. I can’t wait to read the follow-up, Je t’aime à la Folie

0 Replies to “In my absence, a good book to read”

  1. It did work! I’ve also used the WordPress scheduler on occasion – good, isn’t it?

    I must get Michael Wright’s book. I enjoyed his column in the Telegraph Weekend. Alas, that newspaper is one of the victims of our recession belt-tightening, so I never get to read it any more. He came over as a thoroughly nice person and, as you say, keen to portray the French honestly and not as amusing caricatures.

    I hope you enjoyed your mini-break.

    Amitiés,
    Vanessa

    1. Safely home – but exhausted! It was a five-hour drive each way and through appalling weather yesterday. However, we came back to the same number of children and animals, so that was good! We’ll go again, but not just yet!
      Amitiés
      Steph

  2. Thanks for the review. I love this kind of book. I read “French by Heart,” by Rebecca Ramsey about an American Family who moves to a rural area of France for a year. I forgot the location as it was a while ago I read it.

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