Don Wallace’s The French House: An American Family, a Ruined Maison, and the Village That Restored Them All is engaging and well-written and will make even non-Francophiles yearn for a trip to France.
This memoir tells the tale of Wallace and his wife Mindy’s purchase and renovation of a house on a small French island. Like many an expat tale, it includes stories of difficulties in construction (including cash flow!) and unique neighbors, but it’s far from cliché thanks to Wallace’s writing. You’ll find yourself rooting for the couple as they scrap and save and persevere, transforming their ruin into a lovely home — over the course of decades.
This book charmed me from the opening chapter, written as if the reader is a guest arriving to stay in the French house. Wallace’s prose is open and conversational, and his storytelling is superb.
At its core, The French House is a story of wanting something so badly that no logic or reason can dare stand in the way; whether you’ve experienced this yourself or wish to do so someday, you will find inspiration as well as some laughs within its pages. The beautifully composed descriptions of the French landscape and lifestyle are added bonuses.
I just loved it and recommend it to anyone who likes memoirs, expat tales, being transported to faraway lands through words, property renovation stories, or simply good, solid writing.
** NOTE: I received a review copy of this book from NetGalley; the opinions expressed are my own. The links in the post above are affiliate links, which means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive an affiliate commission.