Marjorie (Midge) Price always dreamed of painting in Paris. In 1960 she did something that no twenty-eight year old woman should do: she bought a transatlantic ticket to Paris, alone. Her family was up in arms, no respectful young lady travels alone, let alone across the Atlantic, but Midge was a dedicated artist and living in Paris was her dream.
Shortly after she arrived, she met a native artist, Yves. They fall in love and marry after a mere six months. They have a daughter, and soon dream of owning a cottage in the country to get away from the hustle and bustle of Paris life. Yves soon announces that he has found the perfect place. It’s not just one cottage, but an entire hamlet. Yves insists that Midge see this place for herself. When she arrives, she sees a hamlet in ruins, requiring major repair. But Yves insists on purchasing, ignoring her concerns.
The restoration required is tremendous. They are forced to live in another small home until the work is complete. It’s definitely not the city life that Midge was used to.
Midge soon meets their neighbors, and instantly forms a bond with Jeanne, a peasant woman nearing her seventies. Jeanne takes her under her wing and begins to treat her as the daughter she never had. When Ives’ personality begins to change, turning into a raging, abusive husband, Jeanne becomes her support system and helps her survive this turmoil in her life. Slowly, the city-girl side of Midge soon evaporates and she is transformed into a genuine “country” girl.
A Gift from Brittany is a beautiful, yet sometimes heartbreaking, coming-of-age story. Midge’s transformation takes place alongside the transformation of the hamlet, both are tremendous. It is also a story of friendship, one that transforms culture and generations. Two women who at first glance having nothing in common form a bond that cannot be broken. Price’s writing itself is a form of artwork, it’s beauty and detailed descriptions paint a portrait of a woman’s life before your eyes. I became completely wrapped up in the book within the first several pages. It is a profound piece of writing that will stay with you for some time.
Here is what others are saying about A Gift from Brittany. Click on the link to their blog to read the entire review:
Nicole from Linus’s Blanket states: “this was a wonderful glimpse into the lives of not only a strong and lively community of villagers, but of deep friendship, the lives and struggles of artists, and how one artist in particular has to find a way to claim her voice.”
Amy from My Friend Amy states: “I loved the relationship between her (Midge) and Jeanne because I love knowing we can find friendship where we least expect it.We don’t really have to have any of the surface things in life in common to connect at the heart level and this book was a great reminder of that.”
Carey from The Tome Traveller’s Weblog states: “This is a story that is at once heartwarming and heartbreaking. Here is a peek at a European way of life that endured for centuries and then completely died out in a few decades. It is one of the best memoirs that I have ever read and I highly recommend it. It would be an excellent choice for book clubs.”
Be sure to come back tomorrow to read a guest post by the author and enter to win copy of this outstanding book!
Tags: coming-of-age, Historical Non-Fiction, Marjorie Price, Memoir, Memoir, painting