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The House in France: A Memoir Hardcover – Deckle Edge, June 21, 2011

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Knopf (June 21, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0307269809
  • ISBN-13: 978-0307269805
  • Product Dimensions: 9.4 x 6.7 x 1.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2.1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (27 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #806,097 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews


''Gully's writing is like her marvelous figure--lean, provocative, and built for humor.'' --Rupert Everett

''This is a superbly entertaining memoir full of delicious anecdote, witty portraiture, and unexpected pathos. I have been dining out for weeks on stories stolen from this volume.'' --Zoe Heller, author of What Was She Thinking?: Notes on a Scandal

''Travel, celebrity, infidelity--and a generous dose of Provence. Charming and fascinating.'' -- Peter Mayle, author of A Year in Provence

''Gorgeous, smart--indeed, brilliant--utterly captivating. And beautifully written. I can't think when I've enjoyed a memoir so much.'' --Christopher Buckley --This text refers to the MP3 CD edition.

About the Author

Gully Wells was born in Paris, brought up in London, educated at Oxford, and moved to New York in 1979. She is a features editor at Condé Nast Traveler magazine. She lives in Brooklyn with her husband and children.

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Customer Reviews

3.9 out of 5 stars
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See all 27 customer reviews
The actual house in France seldom appears in the book.
Constant reader in Oregon
Wells, is a very good writer, and I'm sure that most people will enjoy her charming, delightful memoir.
Kate Runyan
Damn she was good to be around (unless you were the target).
Richard & David

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

25 of 28 people found the following review helpful By Simply Luxurious on June 21, 2011
Format: Hardcover
With exquisitely beautiful and frank detail, author Gully Wells shares in her memoir The House of France the memories she has of her mother Dee Wells and her step-father Sir Alfred Jules "Freddie" Ayer as she grew up in London, Paris and in their summer home situated between Toulon and Marseille all amongst the royal, social and political elite.

Wells consistently paints images of a young girl coming to understand her mother through her writing, the eccentricities she observed and why it was her mother became the fierce independent woman who spoke her mind with such resolute conviction being the glamorous and often rebellious American journalist who wrote for The Guardian, The New York Times as well as authored a successful book titled Jane released in 1973. Explaining how her mother's wisdom clearly molded her into the woman she became, Wells giftedly tells a seemingly objective description that isn't always flattering, but always intriguing; however, throughout the entire piece there is an undercurrent of utter love and adoration that can't be contained in the last few pages as she writes about her return to her mother's house in France and how after six years following her mother's death she is finally able to return as she has never been without her mother present until at that very moment.

Beginning in Paris where her mother and father met and married, readers will be delighted, shocked, impressed and charmed by this wonderfully scripted memoir that is a traveler's dream and a daughter's reality.

Excerpt from the book: "'Take a chance' - this was the precept she had always lived by, the impulse that had propelled her forward, the belief she clung to as fervently as any of the pilgrims who worshipped at the shrine of Notre-Dame du Beausset-Vieux, in that tiny chapel on top of the hill, behind our house."
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21 of 24 people found the following review helpful By sponkerina on June 27, 2011
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
In the current flood of memoirs hitting the market, The House in France stands alone as a witty, wry portrait of an unusually clever and entertaining family. The book spans the life of Gully Wells from her childhood in the fifties through her coming of age in the sixties and her adulthood in contemporary New York City. She takes us on a breathless tour of literary London populated with many familiar names, not the least of whom, was her brilliant stepfather A.J.Ayer. Her mother, Dee Wells, was a journalist and television personality known for her "take no prisoners" conversational style.
The house of the title is an ancient, beloved farmhouse at the unfashionable end of the Cote d'Azur. It is here that the family shares their most delightful, outrageous and hilarious adventures with a cast of characters that would be impossible to invent. It is the single place they will all be forever drawn back to.

I can't recommend this book enough. It is not only highly entertaining, but laugh-out-loud funny, a perfect summer read.
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23 of 27 people found the following review helpful By Daisy on August 21, 2011
Format: Hardcover
I enjoy this kind of memoir and was looking forward to reading The House in France. What a disappointment! It was a struggle plodding on to the end, and the only reason I did was that based on the other, glowing, reviews, I thought at some point the book might get better. Nope, never did. Why it is of interest to anyone to read about these shallow, dysfunctional, artificial, and annoying people, is beyond me. The entire point of the book seems to be name-dropping. The author is repetitive, nay perseverative, in her zeal to tell us she knows anyone who is anyone. The author's mother comes across as an adulterous wife, negligent mother, and a vain, superficial person. The only thing this book proves is that people get to where they are in life based on their connections, certainly not on talent. As if we didn't know that already! My advice? Life is too short to waste on this book. Read Julia Child's "My Life in France" instead, much more enjoyable and written by someone who's actually contributed something.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Book Lover on May 1, 2012
Format: Hardcover
I first became aware of this book through an excerpt in Vogue magazine. Judging by the letters to the editor, the readers did not find the story of Gully losing her virginity to a much older, very oily, and very married Frenchman as amusing as the writer did. But no matter; the article was well written so I was curious about the rest of the story. Well....between all the infidelities, copious bottles of wine, great food and parties featuring intellectual and witty guests, everyone seems to having the greatest time. But are they really? Gully is at pains to say how great her unconventional mother and step-father were but every now and then, the mask drops and you see two enormously selfish people. At one point her mother moves to US with her lover and leaves her 16 year old son on his own in England with no arrangements for his care(he ends up staying with various friends). Later on Gully marries a terrific guy from the BBC and gets an offer to be an editor at Conde Nast Traveler, despite apparently never having worked as a journalist (yeah, I'm jealous). I found this book slightly irritating because everyone was so cool and bohemian and the only sin seemed to be being a bore; yet you get the sense there were some problems and hurt feelings and anger beneath the surface but these are quickly shoved under the rug with an off-the-cuff remark and we're on to another party. I give her props for not writing a "Mommie Dearest" kind of book but more perception would have been great. On the plus side, this is an engaging well-written book that will hold your interest. You'll either wish you could've been at one of these parties or be glad you only have to read about them.
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