Synopses & Reviews
When Jeffrey Greene, a prizewinning American poet, and Mary, his wife-to-be, a molecular biologist at the Pasteur Institute in Paris, discover a moss-covered stone presbytery in a lovely village in the Puisaye region of Burgundy, they know they have to live there. With an unabashed joie de vivre, they begin the arduous process of procuring their slice of paradise amid the wild beauty of the French countryside -- a place of gentle farmlands and dense forests, of rivers and lakes, of stunning fields bursting with the color and heady scent of wildflowers.
French Spirits is the magical tale of their odyssey to become not just homeowners but Burgundians. In lush, lyrical prose, Greene recalls their experiences turning the three-hundred-year-old stone building -- a "château in miniature," which the locals believe houses numerous spirits--into a habitable refuge. He brings to life their adventures in finding wonderful bargains with which to furnish their new space, including a firm mattress and some rather suspicious "antiques" bought from the back of a van.
Greene offers the unexpected joys and surprises of village life, from celebrating his and Mary's simple backyard wedding to discovering summer fêtes from toiling in a verdant garden to trading insights with new neighbors. He shares the experience of surviving his mother's decision to move in and humorously introduces the locals -- both human and nonhuman -- who define his and Mary's new world. Woven throughout this luscious tale are the pleasures of rural France: wondrous food and wine, long-held rituals and feasts, dark superstitions and deeply rooted history. A memorable feast for the senses, French Spirits will entertain and enlighten all who succumb to its charms.
About the Author
Jeffrey Greene received his MFA from the University of Iowa and his Ph.D. from the University of Houston. He is the author of To the Left of the Worshiper and American Spirituals, which won the 1998 Samuel French Morse Prize. He was also the winner of the Randall Jarrell Prize and the Discovery/The Nation Award. His work has appeared in The New Yorker, The Nation, and many other journals and anthologies. He lives in Paris.