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A Life of Her Own: The Transformation of a Countrywoman in 20th-Century France Paperback – June 1, 1992


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A Life of Her Own: The Transformation of a Countrywoman in 20th-Century France + A History of Modern France (4th Edition)
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin Books (June 1, 1992)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0140169652
  • ISBN-13: 978-0140169652
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.7 x 8.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #150,290 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

First published in France in 1977, this autobiography vivifies the captivating Carles from her peasant origins in a tiny Alpine village through her work as a teacher, farmer, mother, feminist and political activist. Photos.
Copyright 1992 Reed Business Information, Inc.

Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

22 of 23 people found the following review helpful By Peter Durfee on January 9, 2006
Format: Paperback
This was a quick read (I finished it during a plane ride across the Pacific). Carles was born in 1900 in a peasant hamlet in one of the poorest regions of Alpine France. Rare for her time and place, she gained literacy and was successful enough in her studies to gain a teacher's license. She wrote her stories into notebooks for decades and, when the time came, began fashioning their contents into an autobiography. As sickness overtook her, she opted to tell her tale to a publisher, who worked the tapes and her books into this story.

It's worth reading. I've read bits and pieces of the history of isolated, medieval Alpine communities, mostly in books on mountain-climbing; this is a glimpse into the end days of such a community, with its harsh lifestyle, old traditions, and superstitions of its inhabitants. Carles was a woman who challenged many of those traditions and superstitions as she grew and learned.

Toward its end the book bogs down into political statements. Carles married a remarkably free-thinking man for the late 1920s/early 1930s, and his views meshed nicely with hers--pacifism honed by the loss of her brothers to the trenches of World War I and a socialist bent that wants to see the state offer real aid to poor communities like hers. I could have done without her (unrealistic in my opinion) stirring proclamations on the need for a four-hour work day and a return to a simple rural lifestyle. But this doesn't take away from the value of the book on the whole. It's an entertaining look at a strong woman who saw the twentieth century pass in a place that rarely gets written about.
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on June 4, 2001
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Emilie Carles started out her life the same as many of her neighbors in her predominantly peasant town in France. Unlike her neighbors, she went on to receive an education and break out of generations of grinding poverty and ingnorance. The very fact that she is able to chronicle her most unusual life is a testament to the power of the human spirit. Everyone interested in issues of class and gender influencing biography should read this excellent memoir.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on December 6, 2000
Format: Paperback
This is one woman's story of life in an age and place which has disappeared over the course of a century. The voice is powerful, although the translation from the French could have been better. Carles truly makes you feel what it was like to be a young peasant woman. This isn't sentimental trash or dry history. It's a very down to earth tale of "this is what it was like for me."
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