Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Review: A Gift from Brittany by Marjorie Price

I studied French for many years, went to France one summer during college, and did some ethnography and field cultural anthropology studies on the people of France. I love the culture, the food, the language, the history, and the art. So when I was approached to review this memoir of the time Marjorie Price spent in rural France, I jumped at the chance.

Marjorie went to Paris as a young woman in her twenties to explore the world of painting there. This is one of the things I liked best about the book, Marjorie's love for art and painting. During her time there, she met a dashing young French artist, Yves, who swept her off her feet. Soon they were married and she had a daughter. They had a dream of buying a studio by the sea, but instead they ended up buying half of a hamlet in the middle of nowhere. Still living in this area were people who spoke the local language and had never ventured outside of Morhiban.

Unfortunately, Yves starts to grow jealous of Marjorie's painting and quite controlling. This leads to problems in their marriage and Marjorie develops an extremely close relationship to a local woman, Jeanne. Their friendship defies language, cultural, and age barriers.

I enjoyed reading this story quite a bit, getting glimpses into a culture that no longer exists in France, and while I was saddened to read about Price's disintegrating marriage, the ways she found her own strength were interesting. Mostly I loved the relationship between her and Jeanne because I love knowing we can find friendship where we least expect it. We don't really have to have any of the surface things in life in common to connect at the heart level and this book was a great reminder of that.

Rating: 4/5
Source of Book: Provided for review
Publisher: Gotham


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