In one of the most beautiful river valleys in Europe, in the region known as Périgord in southwest France, castles crown the hills, and the surrounding villages seem carved all of a piece out of the local stone. In 1985, in the shadow of one of these medieval castles, Betsy Draine and Michael Hinden fell in love with a small stone house that became their summer home.
Like any romance, this one has had its ups and downs, and Betsy and Michael chart its course in this delightful memoir. They offer an intimate glimpse of a region little known to Americans—the Dordogne valley, its castles and prehistoric art, its walking trails and earthy cuisine—and describe the charms and mishaps of setting up housekeeping thousands of miles from home.
Along with the region’s terrain and culture, A Castle in the Backyard introduces us to the people of Périgord—the castle’s proprietor, the village children, the gossipy real-estate agent, the rascally mason, and the ninety-year-old widow with a tale of heartbreak. A celebration of a place and its people, the book also reflects on the future of historic Périgord as tourism and development pose a challenge to its graceful way of life.
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Betsy Draine and Michael Hinden are professors emeritus of English at the University of Wisconsin–Madison. In addition to their scholarly writing, they have translated and edited The Walnut Cookbook by Jean-Luc Toussaint.From Booklist:
Several years ago this married couple, both professors of English at the University of Wisconsin at Madison, traveled through the Perigord, a ravishingly beautiful area of southwest France washed and backdropped by the lovely Dordogne River. Captivated by what they saw, they purchased a summer home in the particularly evocative village of Castelnaud, which is dominated by a castle built during the Hundred Years' War. The authors' recollections of their summers in the Perigord and, especially, their charming little house will delight any fan of the I-bought-a-house-abroad memoir. From remembrances of their dearest neighbor, Madame Boucher, to descriptions of local cuisine (featuring walnuts, foie gras, and truffles), to stories about the prehistoric cave paintings for which the region is well known, every one of their anecdotes is delightfully worth telling. Each detail of their account is a delicious morsel akin to the hearty fare served in every Perigord home and inn. Brad Hooper
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Book Description University of Wisconsin Press, U.S.A., 2002. Hardcover. Book Condition: New. Dust Jacket Condition: New. 1st Edition. NEW. Bookseller Inventory # 16JULERL1801
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