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Mary-Lou Weisman
Playing House in Provence: How Two Americans Became a Little Bit French
The author and her husband love to travel, but they don't like being tourists. They want to explore on their own, at their own pace-- no playing follow-the-leader, plugs in their ears, their eyes trained on a hoisted umbrella. They want to live the authentic local life, shop for food, make friends, and be regulars at their small-town cafe. They want to become so French that even Americans won't like them. As tourists-on-the-loose in a foreign town, they can't resist pausing in front of a realtor's office to view the listings, choosing the house they like best, calculating the price of a one-month rental in dollars, and indulging their fantasy. Then they forget about it, and fly home to reality. But one day, while wandering through a lovely medieval town in Provence, they decide to transform their fantasy into reality. Follow them on their sometimes wonderful, sometimes humiliating, always hilarious pursuit, as they learn that feeling disoriented and stupid on a daily basis can be fun. \t
In this funny and candid account of four monthlong stays in Provence over four seasons, memoirist and biographer Weisman (My Middle Aged Baby Book) hoped to realize an old fantasy of becoming “so French that we wouldn’t like Americans either.” Trying to recapture her youth in late middle age, Weisman and her husband rented a house in the south of France in 2003 and anchored their “experiment in international living” around a routine of French lessons, excursions to the outdoor market, elaborate culinary exchanges with new local friends, and trips through the countryside. Weisman excels at identifying human foibles: during a dinner party for which they are furiously preparing, the couple realizes that cultural immersion will not change the pace of their life at home (“if we can’t relax in Provence, it’s unlikely we’ll be laid back at home”); shortly thereafter, the couple admits to themselves that “we would rather become French than learn French.” Throughout,Weisman enthusiastically shares with readers the “moments we live for”: good food, wine, and conversation. Particularly for the over-60 set with a penchant for “riding in the slipstream of our own childhoods,” this will be an enjoyable study in how to be at one’s “faux finest.” (BookLife)