I’m trying to catch up on posts I left in draft. This is pretty pathetic because I started this one in September 2004 and it is now March 2010. Needless to say, I remember almost nothing about the book, but I made a number of notes and copied some quotations. My stubborn nature won’t let me abandon it. OK: Greene rehabs a presbytery into a house in rural France. Not the South—although one might have thought at some point that every single publisher needed to release a book about expats in Provence—in Rogny, a town in the Puisaye region of Burgundy. I do not need to read the book again to know that it costs more and takes longer than he thought. During the course of the rehab/book, he marries Mary, devoting an excessive 3 chapters to the wedding. They do get the best wedding present ever: a meteorite. We have the requisite colorful neighbors—Madame Savin, Coco, Pere Jo—and at least one pointed observation: “Nothing brightens French spirits more than explaining the right way to do something.”
A few jarring details: some of the French is translated, but some is not; we get a bit of sex with enough specifics to feel out of kilter with the rest of the book (“Mary had her bare bottom against the cold, dusty plastic”); when Greene’s mother comes to visit, we get strong foreshadowing of her death, which luckily doesn’t occur; we hear the details of furniture buying, which isn’t particularly interesting.
Finally, I copied off this quote:
…they went about their hard-core and undoubtedly hard-earned vacationing, setting lines and tossing balls of meal into the opaque water to attract carp, a Hungarian favorite in soup, with paprika.
I don’t remember who “they” are, but I do love the way that sentence falls into a heap at the end—especially the paprika.