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
Rose Cafe: Love and War in Corsicaby John Hanson Mitchell, Counterpoint Staff
In 1962, while he was a student in Paris, John Hanson Mitchell spent a luminous six months on the Mediterranean island of Corsica at the Rose Café, in Ile Rousse. Twenty-two, Mitchell spent his idyll hours there observing the lives of the people who frequented the place. These included a group of local card players (some with possible underworld connections)
In 1962, while he was a student in Paris, John Hanson Mitchell spent a luminous six months on the Mediterranean island of Corsica at the Rose Café, in Ile Rousse. Twenty-two, Mitchell spent his idyll hours there observing the lives of the people who frequented the place. These included a group of local card players (some with possible underworld connections) who visited each night, as well as colorful continental types and a younger crowd at play all spellbound by the lush charms of the island.
In the polished prose that has made his other books so distinctive and well-loved, Mitchell captures the rhythms and intrigues of a life lived elsewhere, bringing us an insider's portrait of the light and dark shadows that loomed over postwar Corsica. He reveals in the process the island's magic at work on his own life how it cultivated the bloom of his writing talent and shaped his sense of place.
- Counterpoint Press
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- Product dimensions:
- 5.40(w) x 8.20(h) x 0.80(d)
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