A Long Way From Paris

E.C. Murray. Plicata (plicatapress.com), $16 trade paper (280p) ISBN 978-0-9903102-1-1
Murray’s debut memoir updates the American-abroad story with amusing and philosophical reflections on a winter spent herding goats in the south of France. The concerns of a young, city-bred, privileged American dabbling as a goatherd are not subsistence, like the “back to nature” family with whom she lives, but rather self-improvement: getting over an ex, adjusting to significant weight loss, and learning to “believe in myself”. Though her lack of facility with the French language leaves many of her interactions with the locals as opaque to the reader as they were to Murray then, her sweetly energetic prose, blending poetic description with American slang (“Spain? Yahoo!”), brings to vivid, eye-popping life the rural landscape, the cold weather and the animals with whom she spends her days. As she learns how to milk a goat, darn a sock, ride a horse, and midwife farm animal babies, Murray grows in confidence and maturity, eventually coming to terms with painful relationships, her own past, and the loss that shadows both human and animal life. Rich with history, Murray’s literary and philosophical reflections give the memoir substance, and the journey of achieving peace with oneself is relatable even for those who don’t know where their goat cheese comes from. Photos. (Booklife)
Reviewed on: 07/06/2015
Release date: 11/01/2014
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