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French Dirt: The Story of a Garden in the South of France Paperback – April 5, 2002
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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.
Top customer reviews
Irony in timing: I was working on reviving my own garden, and every break from the book, though few and short-lived, brought me to reflect on the peace, love, and tranquility I feel when I'm tending to nature.
No comparison to Peter Mayle's Provence tales, French Dirt nevertheless succeeds in its mission to take the reader on an exotic journey away from the bussling of the typical US city.
One source of that urge has to be my own times of living in another country for short periods--in my case, once for a year, two times for half that time--and imagining for a while that I had come to stay. The American as immigrant, a reversal of the usual flow, the searching for a new identity in an old place. In my case, and in my family's, we too found a symbolic dimension of the experience: skiing in Norway, biking in Denmark, and walking in Portugal. In each case, though not nearly as intensely as Goodman with his garden, we found an entry into the culture. And, in the end, perhaps that is the real reason I am drawn back, time and again, to his book. He never fails to help me better understand that we always need to find ways to cross those boundaries that keep us apart as cultures and individuals. For that, I thank him, one more time.