The Provencal Tales

Michael De Larrabeiti, Author St. Martin's Press $17.95 (222p) ISBN 978-0-312-02968-5
This appealing amalgam of travel and folktale had its genesis when the author ( The Borrible Trilogy ) spent a summer with a group of shepherds as their sheep grazed the high pastures of Provence. The 13 tales he recounts here were told around the nightly campfires; dating from the time of the Crusades, they define a land and its people. Like their ancestors the troubadours, the shepherds use the Provencal tongue, describing poor ignorant Pichounetta who makes a coffin for her brother to be floated down the river to the holy Aliscamps in Arles. When the money fastened to the coffin lid is stolen, Pichounetta undertakes the same journey to save her brother's soul; en route she discovers the thief and her own dark fate. In another tale, a vast-hipped shepherdess tells of ``The Magician's Daughter,'' who searches the world for the antidote to the elixir of eternal life she has mistakenly drunk. The stories are wonderfully wrought, teaching without pedantry lessons of individual pride and greed, of physical beauty and earthly power. Set against these is the life of the shepherd, each with ``a mountain to live on.'' (Aug.)
Reviewed on: 01/01/1988
Release date: 01/01/1988
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