From Publishers Weekly
In 1991, Greenside, a teacher and political activist living in Alameda, Calif., found himself at both the end of a relationship and the end of the world. The French world, that is: Finistère, a remote town on the coast of Brittany, where he and his soon-to-be-ex-girlfriend spend 10 weeks. Preternaturally slow to negotiate the ways of life in a small Breton village, he gets help from Madame P., his slow-to-melt landlady and neighbor. At summer's end (as well as the end of his relationship), his attachment to France became more permanent through the quasi-impulsive purchase of an old stone house, which was made possible with the help of Madame P. She figures prominently and entertainingly through the rest of the book, facilitating several of the author's transactions with the sellers and the local servicemen who provide necessities such as heating oil and insurance. At times the author's self-deprecation comes across as disingenuous, but his self-characterization as a helpless, 40-something leftist creates an intriguing subtext about baby boomerism, generational maturity and the relationship of America to France. Greenside tells a charming story about growing wiser, humbler and more human through home owning in a foreign land. (Nov.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
Writer and academic Greenside reluctantly goes to Brittany with his ladylove in 1991. Few words are spent describing the demise of that relationship, rather the love affair described is the one he has with Brittany itself. This part of France isn’t like anything he has experienced before. The generosity and fairness of the locals and the beauty and history of the place woo him until he finds himself borrowing money from his mother to buy a house. The sellers are honorable and upright as are all the repair and craftspeople it takes to maintain his new possession. But as the title of the book tells the reader up-front, this man does not exactly blend in. His language skills improve somewhat over the years, but his behavior never quite matches. No matter, he is always treated patiently and politely. There are few new insights here, but for those who love the move-to-a-foreign-country-and-survive genre, this is a fine addition to their collections --Danise Hoover