A Place in Normandy

Nicholas Kilmer, Author Henry Holt & Company $22.5 (208p) ISBN 978-0-8050-3930-6
What distinguishes this account of the trials and joys of fixing up an old French farmhouse from many others like it is that Kilmer didn't buy the place but inherited it; also three generations of his family spent memorable years in it and in its Norman village of Mesnil, near Pont l'Eveque. Long established, warm relations with the villagers protect Kilmer from regarding them as quaint or exotic. Even more unusual, although he and his wife, Julia, appreciate the excellence of French produce, Kilmer doesn't dwell on the familiar marvels of French cuisine. Instead, while shoring up the neglected place--roof, plumbing, bearing walls, electric wiring--is the impetus for his book, it also becomes an excursion into family history and a meditation on French village life since the 1920s, when his grandfather, American Impressionist painter Frederick Frieseke, bought the house. He traces each generation's structural additions and alterations, the gardens they planted, their parties, weddings, funerals, communions, crises and pleasures, and the distinctive beauties of the countryside. This quiet book subtly catches the rhythms of life and the flavor of an American family at ease in another culture. Photos. (Jan.)
Reviewed on: 03/29/1999
Release date: 04/01/1999
Genre: Nonfiction
Paperback - 272 pages - 978-0-8050-5532-0
Open Ebook - 272 pages - 978-1-4668-7199-1
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