French Dirt: The Story of a Garden in the South of France and over one million other books are available for Amazon Kindle. Learn more
Qty:1
  • List Price: $13.00
  • Save: $1.78 (14%)
FREE Shipping on orders over $35.
Only 1 left in stock (more on the way).
Ships from and sold by Amazon.com.
Gift-wrap available.
FREE Shipping on orders over $35.
Condition: Used: Good
Comment: The item shows wear from consistent use, but it remains in good condition and works perfectly. It may be marked, have identifying markings on it, or show other signs of previous use.
Have one to sell? Sell on Amazon
Flip to back Flip to front
Listen Playing... Paused   You're listening to a sample of the Audible audio edition.
Learn more
See this image

French Dirt: The Story of a Garden in the South of France Paperback – April 5, 2002


See all 13 formats and editions Hide other formats and editions
Amazon Price New from Used from
Kindle
"Please retry"
Paperback
"Please retry"
$11.22
$0.76 $0.01
Audio CD
"Please retry"
12%20Days%20of%20Deals%20in%20Books


Frequently Bought Together

French Dirt: The Story of a Garden in the South of France + I'll Never Be French (no matter what I do): Living in a Small Village in Brittany
Price for both: $23.86

Buy the selected items together
NO_CONTENT_IN_FEATURE

Hero Quick Promo
12 Days of Kindle Book Deals
Load your library with Amazon's editors' picks, $2.99 or less each today only. Learn more

Product Details

  • Paperback: 203 pages
  • Publisher: Algonquin Books (April 5, 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1565123522
  • ISBN-13: 978-1565123526
  • Product Dimensions: 5 x 0.6 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (31 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #309,647 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

A few years back, escaping the sound and fury of New York, Richard Goodman moved to a small southern French farming town he calls by the alias St. Sebastian de Caisson, everything about which "suggests the uneventful, and the eternal." There Goodman found a tiny plot of streamside land and set about raising a copious vegetable garden, about as uneventful an event as a seasoned New Yorker is likely to experience. He writes lovingly of tilling the soil and watching his lettuce, tomatoes, and leeks spring from the ground, but at heart his book is about the generous people he met during his stay and what they have to say about life on the land. Armchair travelers, gardeners, and small-scale farmers alike will enjoy his charming memoir. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Publishers Weekly

Ostensibly about a garden kept by Goodman during a year spent in a tiny French village near Avignon, French Dirt is really an account of his response to living as an outsider in a tightly knit community. To make contact with the villagers and better understand their lot, Goodman first worked in a vineyard in exchange for firewood. The coming of spring and an epiphany in a local apricot orchard led him to borrow land, tools and expert but conflicting advice from resident gardeners for a vegetable garden of his own. The author's metaphor for gardening is that of love; he shares his initial out-of-control buying spree in the garden supply store, his devoted struggle to keep his plants watered without a hose or faucet and his raptures when the garden starts to produce. Unfortunately, this story of his short-lived affair with the garden (he left France at the end of August) is marred by self-indulgent writing and condescension toward the very villagers from whom he craved acceptance.
Copyright 1991 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

More About the Author

Richard Goodman is the author of French Dirt: The Story of a Garden in the South of France, The Soul of Creative Writing, A New York Memoir, and The Bicycle Diaries: One New Yorker's Journey Through 9/11. He has written on a variety of subjects for many national publications, including The New York Times, Harvard Review, Creative Nonfiction, Commonweal, Vanity Fair, The Writer's Chronicle, salon.com, Saveur, Louisville Review, Ascent, French Review and the Michigan Quarterly Review. Richard Goodman is an Assistant Professor of English at the University of New Orleans.

Customer Reviews

Insightful and poignantly written in a can't put down style.
Dennis McKay
Very boring story, if you like gardening then you may like it, but nothing else really interesting in the story line...
andrea moore
The book was easy reading and made me feel like I was with him on his adventure.
Jerilyn

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

17 of 17 people found the following review helpful By Michael K. McKeon on April 15, 2002
Format: Paperback
"French Lessons" is a warm memoir of the author's year long sojourn in a rural village in Southern France. Unlike the recollections of other foreign visitors who have written of their experiences in France, Goodman gives scant attention to the region's food or wine.
Goodman's tale is primarily spiritual -- the satisfaction he derives from communing with nature as a gardener, and his persistent efforts to gain acceptance and approval from this close knit, closed community of French farmers. The book is reminiscent of Chris Stewart's "Driving Over Lemons" in the latter respect.
Goodman's passion about his gardening experiences does become a bit cloying, and is somewhat saccarine, with almost forced profundity. A passage where he describes getting emotional over cutting bamboo, for example, definitely makes your teeth hurt. Although I derive a considerable amount of satisfaction from gardening myself, I found Goodman's anecdotes somewhat breathless and gushing, particularly his striving to "measure up" in the eyes of a helpful, friendly, apparently very strong 20 year old named Jules.
This is a pleasant book; however, I expected more, in light of the potential. "French Dirt" is mostly a recollection of Goodman's spiritual journey devoting himself to a garden one summer.
Comment Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback. If this review is inappropriate, please let us know.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
10 of 10 people found the following review helpful By John Knight on July 16, 2002
Format: Paperback
Richard Goodman and his Dutch girlfriend Iggy rent a two hundred year old stone house in the south of France for a year. Located in a small village of about 200 without a cafe, store or any kind of city center, they have a tough time figuring out how to connect with the locals. They do make one set of friends--a Spanish couple also living the expat life there.
But finally Richard decides to trade his labor for some firewood. Through working in the fields he begins to mix with the villagers. He is very much struck by Jules, a handsome 25 year old, and through that relationship eventually secures a small plot of land and determines to grow a vegetable garden.
And that really is the focus of the book. A longtime city dweller, Richard harkens back to the Michigan gardens of his youth and enjoys discovering the adult joys of gardening. Sometimes the writing gets to be a bit much--pretty sappy. And, if the truth be told, Richard isn't really very good at growing his garden. But the rivalries among the other village gardeners, the disparate and conflicting advice he receives and the hours spent in the sun tending his garden make this a light, likable read. And truly any book set in the south of France makes for a relaxing summer read!
Comment Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback. If this review is inappropriate, please let us know.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Mary Downs on October 9, 2001
Format: Paperback
This delightful short novel explores the author (an American) and his girlfriend's endeavors to cultivate friends and fruit in the south of France. I found myself walking alongside Richard as he introduced himself to his first real friend, Monsier Vasquez, as he binged on plant buying, as he picked his first vegetable. His description of the prank in which one of the least likely villagers placed perfect red, ripe tomatoes in his garden in early June was hilarious. For anyone wanting to experience living in a small French village this book vividly plants you there!
Comment Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback. If this review is inappropriate, please let us know.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
12 of 13 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on May 19, 2000
Format: Paperback
... this book is a pleasure for the senses and a gentle adventure for the spirit, chronicling the author's year in Southern France and his dream of raising a garden there. It's part travelogue, part gardener's journal, part pilgrimmage and wholly enjoyable. A feast of a book!
Comment Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback. If this review is inappropriate, please let us know.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
11 of 13 people found the following review helpful By Matt Hetling on June 12, 2008
Format: Paperback
This book is a prime example of a first-person account gone wrong. The main problem is that Goodman is just too self-aware to give us any unfiltered view of his experience.

Goodman agonizes over his gardening decisions, and tries to present himself as a humble student of the people of the village. But beneath a thin layer of humility lies a gargantuan ego that rears its head on every page.

By his own account, Goodman pesters locals for help, advice, and affirmation at every turn. After prevailing on a couple of new friends and acquaintances for a lot of help, he abandons the effort and moves back to America before the season is even completely over. He doesn't even seem to recognize that this might be unfair to the people who have helped him in various ways.

More importantly are the glaring omissions and gaps. Goodman's relationship with girlfriend Iggy is probably the most important thing in his life during the time the story takes place, but we never get a sense of how that relationship progresses from seemingly functional to rocky to over. He's happy and willing to speculate on the gossip surrounding the locals, but he won't share the dirt on himself. Indeed, some passages read like a passive-aggressive appeal to his now-ex, either wooing her back or shifting blame away from himself.

Goodman does do one thing right, and that is to give a very interesting window into the life and people of the tiny French village. But too often, that window is spoiled by the images of Goodman fawning over the locals, practically begging them for affirmation that he is a member of their little community (which, of course, he isn't).

So, I can't really recommend this book. The writing is not honest, the protagonist is not likable, and the garden itself is too transient to accumulate any weight.
Comment Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback. If this review is inappropriate, please let us know.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again

Most Recent Customer Reviews