1 EAGLETON NOTES: C'est La Folie



Sunday 7 September 2008

C'est La Folie

I never cease to marvel at CJ's blog A Book Every Six Days, not just because of its content (which so often fills me with enthusiasm that I never manage to convert into action) but also because of the fact that someone can read that many books. Having seen CJ read a book in the time that it takes me to do a crossword (I know, I've been told a million times not to exaggerate) I may not understand how he does it but I can at least sit and marvel at the feat. But it's not just the ability to read a book so quickly, it's also the ability to assimilate it and then comment upon it. Then I read Helen and Ian's Book Blog and was fired with more enthusiasm.

So I thought that for what will probably be the first and last time I would do a book posting.

Over the last few days I have read C'est La Folie by Michael Wright. The theme could lead one to believe that this is just another "ma première année essayant d'habiter en France/Italie...". Once I had managed to put Peter Mayle's A Year in Provence behind me I have enjoyed quite a few books on the theme.  However Michael who had a head start over the majority of Les Anglais by speaking French (rather than English loudly) has written a book not of Provence or the Dordogne but of a town not too far away from where I am staying.  The La Folie website says of the book that it is the true story of a jaded townie, fearful of Abroad and almost entirely ignorant about animals and plants, who gives up a successful media career to attempt to learn how to be a solitary peasant in the depths of rural France, accompanied only by a cat and a vintage aeroplane.

Actually I think that undersells it.  Like many people who write about their attempt at a new life in a foreign land Michael is searching to find a way of living comfortably with himself.   It is a book about a personal search to be a 'hero', a story with optimism and pathos and a raft of emotions.  But above all it is not patronising.   Even more than that, it is one of the few books that Sue and John and I have just read which made all of us laugh out loud - sometimes quite uncontrollably - on many occasions. 

Even the goldfish add to my social picture, in their dreamy, silent way, their three bright-orange shapes gliding in the depths of the pool, permanently searching for something they've already forgotten they've lost.  [Shades of The Drunken Goldfish methinks].

If, one day, I am to have a wonderful relationship with a woman, I first need to learn to be happy within myself, even when things are tough.  And if I am to be a wise old man, I need to live through some difficulties first.

And then I woke up one morning and found that I could play it (Widor's Toccata) myself.  It's amazing what the brain gets up to, while our backs are turned.

As far as I can tell the difference between flying in france and flying in Britain is that here in France pilots drink too much coffee whilst waiting around for the midday sun to cool, whereas in Blighty they drink too much tea whilst waiting for the clouds to lift.

It's difficult to be a hero when life keeps getting in the way.

And as the man in the paper-shop tells me, at least we're (Les Anglais) are not Parisians.

They (local ouvriers) earn what is needful to live, and ça suffit.  In England this might look like laziness.  Here it looks like contentment.

1 comment:

  1. Sounds brilliant - already added to my 'to be read' list. I demand more book blogs when you can!


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