COUNTRY MATTERS: The Pleasures and Tribulations of Moving from a Big City to an Old Country Farmhouse
This is the latest installment in Korda's series of autobiographical books, which include Charmed Lives, a look at his famous theatrical family's history; Man to Man, his frank book about surviving prostate cancer; and Another Life, his collection of reminiscences about his two decades as editor-in-chief of the publishing house Simon & Schuster. This chatty book describes how Korda and his wife bought a 200-year-old farm in a small town in Dutchess County, N.Y., about 90 miles north of Manhattan. Over the 20-odd years chronicled, the Kordas use a mixture of guile, hard work and perseverance to ingratiate themselves with the locals and truly make the place their own. Many of the episodes, often comedic, document the various renovations of the farmhouse and the mental and physical barriers the Kordas cross in exchanging a glamorous New York lifestyle for one filled with pigs, horses and grubs. Korda, who was born in England, brings a foreigner's eye to his surroundings and on more than one occasion draws distinctions between the genteel rural life of his forebears and those of the lower-middle-class Americans he is surrounded by. Only occasionally does Korda lapse into cliché, drawing attention to pariahs such as Dunkin' Donuts and Americans' propensity to drive large, unwieldy vehicles. But the overall effect is charming and oftentimes witty, and in this sense his newest follows in the tradition of other bestsellers, like Peter Mayle's Provence, about dislocation to a place peopled with foreigners and strange ways. (Apr. 16)
Forecast:Korda's celebrity and reputation as a literary gentleman will help propel sales among those in the know along the coasts and in the cities. Handselling from booksellers (especially in upstate New York and Connecticut) and national advertising will provide additional sales.