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EC Murray
A Long Way from Paris
EC Murray, author

Named one of KIRKUS BEST BOOKS of 2014. When Elizabeth hitchhikes to the south of France in 1980, she leaves behind a world of drugs, a lover, and an aimless life. Her hopes to become a famous writer in Paris dashed, she carves a life for herself herding goats, sheep, and an ornery cow at a mountain farm in the south of France. With no water, heat, and barely any electricity, Elizabeth ponders her fears, relationships, spirituality; as well as life at her elite New England prep school and her wilder days as an Oregon hippie. She shrinks under the harsh matriarch, but, befriending a shy Australian goatherd, transforms from obese city girl to strong hard-working farm woman. When tragedy strikes, Elizabeth emerges as the strong leader who leads her adopted family out of devastation. "Readers will laugh...readers will weep." Kirkus

Murray’s debut memoir updates the American-abroad story with amusing and philosophical reflections on a winter spent herding goats in the south of France. The concerns of a young, city-bred, privileged American dabbling as a goatherd are not subsistence, like the “back to nature” family with whom she lives, but rather self-improvement: getting over an ex, adjusting to significant weight loss, and learning to “believe in myself”. Though her lack of facility with the French language leaves many of her interactions with the locals as opaque to the reader as they were to Murray then, her sweetly energetic prose, blending poetic description with American slang (“Spain? Yahoo!”), brings to vivid, eye-popping life the rural landscape, the cold weather and the animals with whom she spends her days. As she learns how to milk a goat, darn a sock, ride a horse, and midwife farm animal babies, Murray grows in confidence and maturity, eventually coming to terms with painful relationships, her own past, and the loss that shadows both human and animal life. Rich with history, Murray’s literary and philosophical reflections give the memoir substance, and the journey of achieving peace with oneself is relatable even for those who don’t know where their goat cheese comes from. Photos. (Booklife)
Beth Corcoran, Lévis-Lauzon College, Quebec

“EC Murray brings the reader to the haunting, godforsaken beauty of the French Pyrenees…living a life stripped down to the basics, her senses, intuition, and heart must take over. It is a thoughtful, heartwarming journey…that leads…to the core of life.”

Carlene Cross, author of The Undying West, Fleeing Fundamentalism

“She beautifully explores her deep awareness of the land, an unfolding appreciation of hard work and the importance of family. The result is a fascinating journey filled with wisdom, grace and compassion.”


“A rich, lucid debut…Murray writes with grace, complexity and humor . . . readers will weep … they’ll also laugh. With compassion and candor, she vividly paints the strong personalities of the farm’s family members…These interactions are fraught with cross-cultural misunderstandings…But they’re also interwoven with kindness, humor, simple pleasures and the joy of shared work. Murray provides both bleak and beautiful descriptions of the climate and landscape, along with meditations on her spiritual transformation.” 

Langdon Cook, author of The Mushroom Hunters, winner of 2014 Pacific Northwest B

“Murray is both a sharp observer of the local color and a cartographer of her own internal geography, making A Long Way from Paris as richly textured as fromage de chèvre.” 

Theo Pauline Nestor, author of How to Sleep Alone in a King-Sized Bed and Writin

“Anyone who's struck out on the road to find themselves (and those who've wanted to!) will surely see themselves in E.C. Murray's lovely and nicely rendered A LONG WAY FROM PARIS.” 

Bellingham Herald: Two Local Memoirs Charm Readers with Stories of Paris, Beyond

“A Long Way from Paris” recounts her jarring transformation from footloose vagabond to live-in, language-deficient goatherd for a family in the mountains of Languedoc.

The year and a half of immersion in a culture so different from her own forces Murray to confront her insecurities and grow beyond them. Gradually, she learns not only how to speak French and tend goats but how to deal with life and death up close. Flecked with humor and bittersweet candor, this account captures the essence of coming of age.