Tuesday, 28 October 2008

Discovering France

While in France, I read Graham Robb's excellent The Discovery of France, about the various means by which people have travelled about France, the old routes and paths which are still there, hidden away as forest and other tracks, or as the IGN maps of France calls them , "chemins d'exploitation"; the railways, the branch lines which are now cycle routes or walks, the canals and so on. He mentions Roman roads, of which France probably had many, and those are still there in the imaginations of the present day people, as one of the older residents of the village where we have a house explained that the road through the valley was a Roman road. The village is certainly very old, (there is a brief history here) and although many of the houses look as if they were built about a century or so ago, the site has been occupied for centuries, and apparently even had a chateau at one stage. Graham Robb's book is an interesting read for anyone who thinks they know France, as they will almost certainly learn things they never knew. The accompanying picture shows Le Vaulmier at the start of the 20th century.

Sunday, 12 October 2008

Recent reads

Although away in France, in Le Vaulmier ostensibly doing some work on the house, I have managed to finish Kate Mosse's Sepulchre, which I started several weeks ago. I kept putting it aside to read other things, or do something. It's a long book anyway, but at last completed and sort of enjoyed. I think I preferred her Labyrinth, which I read a couple of years ago, while on holiday in the south of France. The switching back and forward in time from late 19th century to the present day worked well, although I found the use of some American language a bit awkward. The characters of the two girls Leonie and Meredith seemed believable, at least while reading. Some books that I take a while to read like this one, I never get back to and finish, but somehow, I wanted to find out how the author reconciled the plot.
Another read while here in France has been Deborah Moggach's These Foolish Thngs, which I found a rattling good read, despite the author's rather bleak view of life for older people in Britain in the 21st century. The idea of setting up a retirement home in Bangalore is intriguing, and the descriptions of life there for the residents from Britain, and the characters of those residents is beautifully done. Since our retirement from paid employment, we have taken on a neglected house in the middle of what one of the local residents describes as the most beautiful valley in France, we have been kept failrly busy; although we don't live here all the time, we visit about four times a year at different seasons. So far this autumn visit has proved successful, as we have done some more work on improving the house, decorating and mainataining the interior and exterior. We have had some glorious weather, with wonderfully warm and sunny days, when we have gone for little walks through the local woods, all now rapidly changing from green to golden yellow. Splendide!

google tracker