The House in France

The House in France

by Gully Wells
3.6 6


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The House in France by Gully Wells

Set in Provence, London, and New York, this is a daughter’s brilliant and witty memoir of her mother and stepfather—Dee Wells, the glamorous and rebellious American journalist, and A. J. Ayer, the celebrated and worldly Oxford philosopher—and the life they lived at the center of absolutely everything.

Gully Wells takes us into the heart of London’s lively, liberated intellectual inner circle of the 1960s. Here are Alan Bennett, Isaiah Berlin, Iris Murdoch, Bertrand Russell, Jonathan Miller, Martin Amis, Christopher Hitchens, Robert Kennedy, and Claus von Bülow, and later in New York a completely different mix: Mayor John Lindsay, Mike Tyson, and lingerie king Fernando Sánchez. We meet Wells’s adventurous mother, a television commentator earning a reputation for her outspoken style and progressive views, and her stepfather, an icon in the world of twentieth-century philosophy, proving himself as prodigious a womanizer as he is a thinker. Woven throughout is La Migoua, the old farmhouse in France, where evenings were spent cooking bouillabaisse with fish bought that morning in the market in Bandol, and afternoons included visits to M. F. K. Fisher’s favorite café on the Cours Mirabeau in Aix, with a late-night stop at the bullfighters’ bar in Arles. The house perched on a hill between Toulon and Marseille was where her parents and their friends came together every year, and where Gully herself learned some of the enduring lessons of a life well lived.

The House in France
is a spellbinding story with a luminous sense of place and a dazzling portrait of a woman who “caught the spirit of the sixties” and one of the most important intellectual figures of the twentieth century, drawn from the vivid memory of the child who adored them both.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780307269805
Publisher: Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group
Publication date: 06/21/2011
Pages: 320
Product dimensions: 9.26(w) x 6.60(h) x 1.16(d)

About the Author

Gully Wells was born in Paris, brought up in London, educated at Oxford, and moved to New York in 1979. She is a features editor at Condé Nast Traveler magazine. She lives in Brooklyn with her husband and children.

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The House in France 3.7 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 6 reviews.
SuzeJones58 More than 1 year ago
My reaction... Phenomenally good read. I was extraordinarily impressed by the lives led by the subjects of this book. I'd definitely recommend buying this book. Only shortcoming is I feel a little short-changed on personal details of Gully's life. She mentions in her Thank You's that she was glad for editor-readers who kept her from revealing the most embarrassing parts. What a tease! Do tell us more!
catwak More than 1 year ago
Ms. Wells' stepfather, a great admirer of Jeremy Bentham, shared Bentham's belief in "felicific calculus," which she characterizes as allowing "you to do all the things that made you happy, as long as you didn't hurt anyone else." This memoir is a long love letter to people who embraced that principle with enthusiasm and to the house where they spent their summers for some 40 years. Ms. Wells rightly points their foibles and the hurt they sometimes caused, but she is unfailingly kind. And she writes like Nancy Mitford reincarnated -- which I intend as a huge compliment.
DrewMAW More than 1 year ago
I enjoyed this book from beginning to end. Very real.
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