French Dirt: The Story of a Garden in the South of France

French Dirt: The Story of a Garden in the South of France

2.8 5
by Richard Goodman
     
 

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A story about dirt--and about sun, water, work, elation, and defeat. And about the sublime pleasure of having a little piece of French land all to oneself to till.

Richard Goodman saw the ad in the paper: "SOUTHERN FRANCE: Stone house in Village near Nimes/Avignon/Uzes. 4 BR, 2 baths, fireplace, books, desk, bikes. Perfect for writing, painting, exploring&

Overview

A story about dirt--and about sun, water, work, elation, and defeat. And about the sublime pleasure of having a little piece of French land all to oneself to till.

Richard Goodman saw the ad in the paper: "SOUTHERN FRANCE: Stone house in Village near Nimes/Avignon/Uzes. 4 BR, 2 baths, fireplace, books, desk, bikes. Perfect for writing, painting, exploring&experiencing la France profonde. $450 mo. plus utilities." And, with his girlfriend, he left New York City to spend a year in Southern France.

The village was small--no shops, no gas station, no post office, only a café and a school. St. Sebastien de Caisson was home to farmers and vintners. Every evening Goodman watched the villagers congregate and longed to be a part of their camaraderie. But they weren't interested in him: he was just another American, come to visit and soon to leave. So Goodman laced up his work boots and ventured out into the vineyards to work among them. He met them first as a hired worker, and then as a farmer of his own small plot of land.

French Dirt is a love story between a man and his garden. It's about plowing, planting, watering, and tending. It's about cabbage, tomatoes, parsley, and eggplant. Most of all, it's about the growing friendship between an American outsider and a close-knit community of French farmers.

"There's a genuine sweetness about the way the cucumbers and tomatoes bridge the divide of nationality."--The New York Times Book Review

"One of the most charming, perceptive and subtle books ever written about the French by an American."--San Francisco Chronicle

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Ostensibly about a garden kept by Goodman during a year spent in a tiny French village near Avignon, French Dirt is really an account of his response to living as an outsider in a tightly knit community. To make contact with the villagers and better understand their lot, Goodman first worked in a vineyard in exchange for firewood. The coming of spring and an epiphany in a local apricot orchard led him to borrow land, tools and expert but conflicting advice from resident gardeners for a vegetable garden of his own. The author's metaphor for gardening is that of love; he shares his initial out-of-control buying spree in the garden supply store, his devoted struggle to keep his plants watered without a hose or faucet and his raptures when the garden starts to produce. Unfortunately, this story of his short-lived affair with the garden (he left France at the end of August) is marred by self-indulgent writing and condescension toward the very villagers from whom he craved acceptance. (Sept.)
Library Journal
In this entrancing gardener's version of Peter Mayle's A Year in Provence ( LJ 4/1/90), Goodman, a Manhattan transplant, recounts the year he spent tending a small vegetable garden in the tiny Provencal village of St. Sebestien de Caisson (an alias). In addition to describing a neophyte's discovery of the joys of creating a vegetable garden, he portrays the village with its highly polarized partisans of night-vs.-morning watering and its generous, hardworking villagers. At times, Goodman's simple poetic prose style is slightly self-conscious, but not to the point where it interferes with the book's narrative power. Sometimes the repetition of French words (``I had no faucet, no `robinet' '') irritates. Robinet means faucet. The drawings at the chapter heads are perfect: simple, childlike, humorous. This is an enjoyable read, quietly compelling, for anyone who loves the south of France or the making of a garden. For gardening and travel collections.-- Sharon Levin, Univ. of Vermont Lib., Burlington

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781565127401
Publisher:
Algonquin Books of Chapel Hill
Publication date:
02/13/2012
Sold by:
Barnes & Noble
Format:
NOOK Book
Pages:
203
Sales rank:
9,478
File size:
3 MB

Meet the Author

Richard Goodman has written articles for the New York Times, Vanity Fair, Commonweal, Garden Design, the Michigan Quarterly Review, Creative Nonfiction, and Salon.com. He has twice been the recipient of a MacDowell Colony Residency. He created, wrote, and narrated a six-part series about New York City for public radio in Virginia. He lives in New York City.

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French Dirt: The Story of a Garden in the South of France 3 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 3 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I liked the authors image of France and the people there. It is different from other books I have read on the subject because he was in such s small village. It made me want to go live in the same house and grow my own veggies.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
If you like Peter Mayle's France then stick with him. This author is far too enamored of his own thoughts to write a book that is an enjoyable read for the public. Not worth the money or the reading time.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago