Friday, September 21, 2007
I read Susan Loomis' memoir On Rue Tatin a few years ago and remember really enjoying it and recommending it to people. It is the story of how Loomis and her family come to live in France and find their home and their way in a small town in Normandy. Therefore, it was with great excitement that I noticed she had published another memoir, Tarte Tatin, in 2003 and eagerly awaited its US release - which never came. Enter Bookcloseouts where I was thrilled to procure a copy earlier this year and waited for just the right moment to read it.
I enjoyed the first few chapters very much which told of Loomis' decision to host lunches, then eventually cooking classes in her home. I read the tale of how Loomis' husband built her a beautiful new kitchen with pleasure. Then came a chapter about the town's weekly market. Wonderful, I thought, I love reading about this sort of thing. Loomis wrote about the vendors she liked and what they sold. Yet she also wrote about the vendors she didn't buy from, how they included rotten produce in her bag, or their bread didn't taste very good. She named names, and described where their stand was located at the market. Perhaps it is my Midwestern sensibility, but I found this rather bold, to disparage people she will continue to see, who will presumably hear tales of what she's written about them. The book continued in this vein. Her earlier memoir felt more cohesive to me, proceeding in a linear way; this one was more a series of essays on different aspects of life in France. Other topics she covered included: a smelly dog they adopted, getting one's French driver's license, children playing sports, French childcare and several others. There continued to be negativity throughout the book - in the chapter dealing with her daughter's childcare she names caregivers and describes incidents she was not happy about. There was quite a bit of praise of her own family, specifically how intelligent, clever, and talented her children are. I think we all know who finds our own children most interesting - we do! I didn't need to know her daughter's pronunciation of Paris - repeatedly. The book ends with a chapter about the September 11 attacks on the US. I will say only that her very dramatic and egocentric response was disconcerting.
I did enjoy reading about life in France, the many challenges and differences Loomis faced. I was left, though, with an overall bad taste in my mouth about this book that I just cannot shake. I wondered if perhaps I shouldn't post my thoughts on this book. I know that some only write about books they enjoy and recommend, but part of my doing this blog was to keep a record of what I read and what I feel about it. So while I don't enjoy posting a bad review, for me, it's about being honest about my relationship with the books in my life.
I'm currently dipping into Apples for Jam and Time Out's 1000 Books to Change Your Life. I'm reading Chatterton Square by E.H. Young and began Barbara Vines' Asta's Book yesterday - which I am really, really enjoying so far.
Have a great weekend - I'll be at work!