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Rose Cafe: Love and War in Corsica

Overview

John Hanson Mitchell recounts his time in the isolated backcountry of Corsica in 1962. While working (illegally) at the Rose Café in Ile Rouse, Mitchell spent his days observing the lives of the regulars: a local group of card players, colorful reprobates from the continent, and a younger crowd of fellow students, all spellbound by the lush charms of the island. Depicting the pivotal role that his time in Corsica played in his own development as a writer, Mitchell captures the rhythms and intrigues of a life ...

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Overview

John Hanson Mitchell recounts his time in the isolated backcountry of Corsica in 1962. While working (illegally) at the Rose Café in Ile Rouse, Mitchell spent his days observing the lives of the regulars: a local group of card players, colorful reprobates from the continent, and a younger crowd of fellow students, all spellbound by the lush charms of the island. Depicting the pivotal role that his time in Corsica played in his own development as a writer, Mitchell captures the rhythms and intrigues of a life lived elsewhere.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly

Avoiding military service in Vietnam, American author Mitchell spent six months working in the kitchen of the Rose Café on the French Mediterranean island of Corsica, a season of which he recollects in this powerful memoir. A restaurant "at a remove from the village... where any local could retreat," the Rose Café is populated by a great number of characters-including owners Jean Pierre and Micheline; Mitchell's love interest, Marie; and a wealthy, mysterious foreigner called "Le Baron"-who don't do a whole lot: eat, drink, play cards, swim, argue, fall in love and share what they know of the island's history. What makes this story remarkable is the way Mitchell allows each character to reveal his or her experience of World War II, ended just 15 years before; some nights, Mitchell hears "a terrible scream from one of the upstairs rooms, [a guest] awakened by the all too real nightmare of the past war." The tale of a lone Nazi shot down in a friend's garden makes for one searing anecdote; others involve entertaining if dubious tales from French resistance fighters (as one Corsican woman tells him, " 'after liberation, all of a sudden half of the males in France were in the resistance' "). The juxtaposition of the beautiful island's vitality and the horrors it so recently survived are captured well in Mitchell's precise and evocative prose, making this well worth reading for fans of memoirs, Old World European culture and WWII narratives. (Mar.)

Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781582434452
  • Publisher: Counterpoint Press
  • Publication date: 11/25/2008
  • Pages: 256
  • Product dimensions: 5.40 (w) x 8.20 (h) x 0.80 (d)

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Sort by: Showing all of 3 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted October 27, 2007

    Writing Begins in Corsica

    John Hanson Mitchell 'JohnHansonMitchell.com' best known for his series of deep explorations of one square mile in eastern Massachusetts known as Scratch Flat 'see, for example, Ceremonial Time', has been wandering from his known territory in recent books. The Rose Cafe, his latest and, I think, his best, takes us to the sun-drenched island of Corsica in the Mediterranean where he lived for nine months in the early 1960s. It is, in part, a memoir of a pivotal time in Mitchell's youth that launched him into his writing career. In his lyrical style, Mitchell weaves a magic spell as he introduces us to the breathtakingly beautiful and fragrant land of Corsica, where an odd collection of local types --- dreamy, eccentric, troubled, lovely, some from the underworld --- frequent the charming, somewhat isolated cafe/auberge where Mitchell worked. In keeping with the subtitle, Love and War in Corsica, there is a lot of love in this book and much about the remnants of wars, World War II in particular. You'll also relish reading about delicious Corsican food and how it is cooked!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 25, 2007

    A reviewer

    John Hanson Mitchell has been called a natural storyteller and an inveterate discoverer, and his latest effort, The Rose Cafe: Love and War in Corsica, is sure to enhance his reputation. In 1962, while he was a student in Paris, Mitchell, slipped away from the City of Lights and spent six months washing dishes in a small, out-of-the-way cafe on the Mediterranean island of Corsica. The result is this poignant memoir of time and place that tells the tale of how the 22-year-old Mitchell began his life-time passion for observing and noticing people and landscapes, and laying the foundation for his later career as a writer. Part travelogue, part memoir, this is a book that brings to life the people and the place that was Corsica in the early 1960s. As always with Mitchell, the writing is superb and the observations fresh and sharp. I highly recommend it.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 6, 2009

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