Second Harvest

Jean Giono, Author, Henri Fluchere, Translator, Geoffrey Myers, Translator Harvill Press $13 (112p) ISBN 978-1-86046-266-5
First published in France in 1930, Giono's lush tale of love and loss is being reissued in a new translation and illustrated with 12 provocative woodcuts by L.W. Graux. Giono (1895-1970) was French-born, of Italian origin, and wrote such beloved stories as The Man Who Planted Trees and Horseman on the Roof. He sets his succulent novel in the nearly abandoned Proven al village of Aubignane, home to three people: 80-year-old Gaubert, who soon leaves, seeking solace in his old age with his son in a neighboring village; a widow still grieving the loss of her husband and baby son, and seemingly growing more unstable; and 40-year-old Panturle, a huge, gruff and isolated hunter. When Mameche, the widow, disappears, Panturle grows nearly wild in his solitude. As he's on the edge of deep despair, a woman, Arsule, happens along. Arsule's story being a sad one, she happily leaves the man she's traveling with, who works her like an animal, and moves in with Panturle. Soon she's making clothes and redecorating the home, while Panturle finds himself with renewed faith in love and life, anxious to begin planting wheat and harvesting the earth's bounty. Giono invests his prose with stunning descriptions of the countryside and lyrical evocations of the majestic seasons (""Spring clung to his shoulders like a big cat""). The couple's romance is practical and their partnership utilitarian, but Giono renders their love lavish as they make a life where the air smells of lavender and where ""such a passion has seized the earth... such a passion!"" (Nov.) FYI: Giono was awarded the Prix Mon gasque in 1953 for his collective work.
Reviewed on: 08/30/1999
Release date: 09/01/1999
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