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The Most Beautiful Villages of Brittany Hardcover – September 1, 1999
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Also -- if anyone who enjoys this book has reading ability in French, I'd like to recommend "La Langue Gauloise", by P.Y. Lambert. It talks about the original language of France, "Gaulish", an early Celtic tongue, from before the days of Caesar and friends. I think that one of the intriguing things about Brittany is that this original, pre-Romance-languages tongue of the region was largely reinstated, in the 5th and 6th centuries A.D., by Celtic-speaking refugees when Britain was being overrun by the Germanic-speaking Angles and Saxons. I think it's interesting to look at the place names in Brittany, and try to learn whether they were named back in prehistoric times, or in the era since the 5th and 6th century. This is the kind of question that this book raises -- the concatenated sense of sedimentary century laid upon century, laid upon century, is absolutely enthralling.
As a coffee table book - just for flipping through the photographs - it's gorgeous. As a travel guide, it has plenty of useful information with the downside that the book is very large and heavy to be carrying around or packing in a suitcase.
But as reading material, the text is mostly very boring. There is a little info on local history and culture (especially in the introductory chapter), but mainly it's just the same architectural details over and over. For instance, "the church's beautiful 16th-century painted reredos" 16 times (each for a different village), or "the medieval half-timbered houses on the main street" 27 times. (I'm just making up the numbers to give you an idea of what the book is like.) I took a star away for the boring text - otherwise the book would rate 5 stars.
The entire book has a strong emphasis on Medieval and Renaissance architecture, which gives even the lovely photographs a kind of sameness after you've been looking at them for awhile. I would like to have seen more variety in them, such as photos of traditional musical instruments, foods (there are a couple of these in the introduction, but that is all), traditional clothing, gardens, natural features, and interiors of homes. And especially, many more photos of the prehistoric monuments for which the region is famous (there are only one or two in the book.)
The photographer clearly went to considerable effort to avoid having any people in most of his pictures, but I think that having people in them would make them much livelier.Read more ›
Well, all such angst aside I'm happy to report that Brittany is as beautiful as the pictures in this book! We were, I am happy to report, informed about Brittany, not set up. We were made ready, our senses honed, our hearts opened to the right pitch. Brittany is as beautiful as these photos lead one to believe. Our hope was not in vain!
So I heartily recommend this book for travelers who are preparing to go to Brittany, and I commend the work that went into the book: my travel hat is off to Hugh Palmer and James Bentley. Good work, guys! Ok, your camera is better'n mine, but rather than using it to deceive me, you've used it to raise my consciousness. Thank you!
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Prompt delivery. Small tear in back of dust jacket as advertised. Book in excellent condition. Great photos and informative textPublished 8 months ago by James Nusbaum
Book arrived with binding cracked wide open from first page. I will be sure to avoid future orders from betterworldbooks.Published 11 months ago by Greg Dimijian
After reading this book - and I did it in stages so that I could absorb the beauty - I am already planning my next trip to Brittany. Read morePublished on December 26, 2012 by Mary Jane McKitis