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
“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.”
“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.”
“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.”
“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.”
“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.