In 1996, Hilaire Tavenner and a small group of companions went to France from a city in Ohio named for Alsace Lorraine, France. Lorain, Ohio is the home of the Tavenner family for six generations. Her father, Robert Henderson Tavenner was a French Protestant and her mother, Mary Catherine Montgomery was an Irish Catholic. This was not an unusual combination for "the International City" on the shores of Lake Erie, famous for its eighty ethnic and church denominations! Lorain is also well known for its literary giants such as Helen Steiner Rice and Toni Morrison.
Dr. Tavenner had been in a convent in upstate New York for almost twenty years and has a lifetime of devotion to Saints of the Church. Her interest in and love for the Miraculous Medal took her to France with a plan to write of her experiences when she came home. The first half of France, 1996 contains most interesting true stories of St. Catherine Laboure and the Miraculous Medal, St. Vincent de Paul, Sr. Louise de Marillac, St. Therese of Lisieux, St. Margaret Mary Alacoque, St. Joan of Arc, as well as St. Bernadette and Lourdes and her travels to Taize and Cluny.
The book is written in hybrid fashion in that the first half is more expository than narrative. The second half of the book, "A Week in Paris" is more narrative than expository. It describes some of the most famous locations in the world and the "typically-tourist-yet-personal-and-unique experiences" she and her companions had while there! The reader cannot help but to glean some of the most fascinating historical events and landmarks of France as s/he reads through, "A Week in Paris". The book is really two books in one. You will laugh as you hear her tell of being "mooned" in front of the world famous Opera House and just as equally be amazed to hear her speak of this most remarkable French nation!
France, 1996 is a must-read for anyone planning to visit France. Dr. Tavenner has marvelous insights into pre-planning, places to stay and money-saving ideas! The book was originally written as a Christmas gift to her family in 1996, but soon became so popular, many more copies were made and sold to friends and strangers who proclaimed it a "most delightful, informative, and entertaining book." In fact, some readers responded with, "Too amazing to be true!" But it is.
France, 1996 is really a series of articles, many of which have already been published around the country. Dr. Tavenner is a well-known public speaker, educator and writer. Each story of this book begins exactly the same way--for the purpose of identifying chapters from this particular book.