At Home in France

At Home in France

by Ann Barry

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"As beguiling and delectable as France itself."

*Mimi Sheraton

"Ann Barry tells her tale directly and clearly, without cloying artifice or guile, so that it has the warmth, honesty, and force of a long letter from an old friend. She makes her reader a welcome house guest in her much-loved little cottage in the heart of France."

*Susan… See more details below


"As beguiling and delectable as France itself."

*Mimi Sheraton

"Ann Barry tells her tale directly and clearly, without cloying artifice or guile, so that it has the warmth, honesty, and force of a long letter from an old friend. She makes her reader a welcome house guest in her much-loved little cottage in the heart of France."

*Susan Allen Toth

Ann Barry was a single woman, working and living in New York, when she fell in love with a charming house in Carennac in southwestern France. Even though she knew it was the stuff of fantasy, even though she knew she would rarely be able to spend more than four weeks a year there, she was hooked. This spirited, captivating memoir traces Ms. Barry's adventures as she follows her dream of living in the French countryside: Her fascinating (and often humorous) excursions to Brittany and Provence, charmed nights spent at majestic chateaux and back-road inns, and quiet moments in cool Gothic churches become our own.

And as the years go by, and "l' Americaine," as she is known, returns again and again to her real home, she becomes a recognizable fixture in the neighborhood. Ann Barry is a foreigner enchanted with an unpredictable world that seems constantly fresh and exciting. In this vivid memoir, she shares the colorful world that is her France.


*The New Yorker

"DELIGHTFUL . . . BARRY WRITES ENGAGINGLY. . . . [She] is very much at home in such fine company as M.F.K. Fisher's Two Towns in Provence, Robert Daley's Portraits of France, and Richard Goodman's French Dirt.

*St. Louis Post-Dispatch

From the Trade Paperback edition.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Not every writer who owns a house in France publishes a book about its pleasures and pains. Even among such owners, Barry, a food and travel writer and former editor at the New Yorker and the New York Times, is exceptional, because she does not actually live in her house in Carennac, a village in southwestern France near the Dordogne; she only visits it for two or three weeks a year. When she is there, she reads, jogs, cooks, hosts friends from home and explores the nearby regions. Because her visits are so short, her experiences in her village seem confined to finding a neighbor to keep her keys for her and someone to garage her car while she's away, and food shopping at wonderful country markets. She writes grippingly about her search for the best bread and vividly profiles familiar native types with whom she is acquainted. Her writing skill makes much of little. (Mar.)
Library Journal
Barry, the former travel editor at The New Yorker and the New York Times, describes her experiences as a homeowner in the Lot region in southwestern France. With no intention of moving permanently to France, she was pleased to have her own base of operations in a country she loved to visit several times a year. The usual attractions of provincial France are here: food, wine, local markets, reserved French locals, and a sense of time passage unfamiliar to a fast-paced New Yorker. Not quite the charmer of Peter Mayle's Year in Provence (LJ 4/1/90), Barry's account does not offer food as delicious nor the French neighbors and tradespeople as quirky as in Mayle's best seller, but the same attraction to the French provinces by the English-speaking foreigner appeals in Barry's work. Recommended for general travel collections.-Mary Ann Parker, California Dept. of Water Resources Law Lib., Sacramento
Brad Hooper
Barry has a full-time job in New York; she also owns a house in southwestern France, even though she's able to spend only two weeks there twice a year. Clouds of envy will swirl around Francophiles as they read her delicious book, and they will understand all too well her sentiment that "France stirred the dreamer and romantic in me." Comparisons with Peter Mayle's Provence books are inevitable, and Barry's doesn't pale, for it's a richly textured account of her experiences during her cherished, twice-yearly vacations, woven from her love of things "francais", a sense of humor about the human condition, and, not least, excellent writing skills. Marketing and cooking, friends visiting from the U.S., countryside jaunts, quirky but lovable neighbors--all provide grist for this delightful sharing of people and places.
Kirkus Reviews
A potentially charming memoir cum travelogue that never fulfills its promise.

Former New Yorker editor Barry became the propriétaire of a small stone cottage in southwestern France when she was in her mid- 40s. Though single, she was tied to New York City by her career, her apartment, her cats. The only time she could spend in her new hometown of Carennac was the few weeks of vacation she took annually. And she spent some of that precious little time exploring Carennac's outlying regions, traveling for days to areas as far- flung as Brittany. The result was that Barry never delved much beyond the experience of the average tourist, even in her own house. Her insights are, therefore, the stuff of travel magazine articles. And she often spreads her confusion to readers rather than enlightening them. For example, the episode of the mysterious guest who occupied her house one winter in her absence: Barry wanders around the cottage with her French caretaker inspecting the caca (the Frenchman's word) of some animal who is never identified. And as for her experience trying to get a table made to fit her terrace—would the carpenter's incompetence have been even vaguely quaint if he hadn't been speaking a foreign language? The book does have some redeeming aspects. For one, Barry is never condescending toward the French locals, something that immediately gives her an edge on the Peter Mayles practicing the genre. And Barry's French countryside is somewhat more exotic to Americans than Mayle's Provence.

Barry does leave the reader aching to own a house in the French countryside—if only to prove how much better he could do.

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Random House Publishing Group
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