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Instructions for Visitors Life and Love in a French Town

Stevenson, Helen

Verlag: Doubleday, London, 2001
ISBN 10: 0385601670 / ISBN 13: 9780385601672
Gebraucht / Hardcover / Anzahl: 1
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Titel: Instructions for Visitors Life and Love in a...

Verlag: Doubleday, London

Erscheinungsdatum: 2001

Einband: Hardcover

Zustand: Very Good

Zustand des Schutzumschlags: Very Good


Good to very good in dust jacket -clean copy-no markings ; 8.58 X 5.67 X 1.02 inches; 249 pages. Buchnummer des Verkäufers 39361

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Inhaltsangabe: "Le village" is a small town near the southernmost tip of France, nudging the border with Spain, between the mountains and the Mediterranean sea. Here the author fell in love with France, the French and one Frenchman in particular. She writes about life in "le village".

Rezension: Instructions for Visitors describes life and love in a village in southwestern France as seen through the eyes of British novelist Helen Stevenson. Fortunately, her eye is a discerning one as she settles into everyday living. Her writing captures the sense of bustling village culture; shopping, eating and café society are high on the agenda, as is art--not surprising in a place where the light and scenery are so beautiful that the village has, over the years, attracted Picasso and Matisse, among others. This beauty is not lost on Stevenson ("this part of the world is like a colour wheel") and her imagery is poetic and striking: "…each house looks like a children’s dressing-up trunk that has been plundered, contents spilling out into the sun".

Not surprisingly, in this setting romance seems almost inevitable and the recently divorced Stevenson embarks on an affair with charismatic local artist, Luc, who is also the village dentist. She is mesmerised by him and the book follows their relationship, allowing for some wonderfully atmospheric passages--for example, their horse-ride in the mountains--as she describes the ups and downs of their life together. Through Luc she also meets other local, eccentric characters and writes about them sensitively and entertainingly so that Instructions for Visitors is enriched by the glimpses into their lives too.

As her relationship progresses, it’s clear that Luc is charming but complicated and very much his own man: "It is as if God wrote lots of little instructions at the beginning of the world, like 'build cities', 'make maps', 'invent printing press' … Luc had taken the one that said 'sit under tree and watch spider.'" Other women from Luc’s colourful past make fleeting appearances; one of his ex-girlfriends, the middle-aged Gigi, runs the local village dress shop and takes Stevenson under her (style) wing as she advises her on her clothes.

Stevenson is not unhappy, however, with this lifestyle and uncertain relationship. There is a distinct sense that she is walking away from her previous life and that her final destination is not yet clear "This is not my life, it’s wonderful but it’s not my life", she says--is she herself perhaps the "visitor" of the title?

Instructions for Visitors is about living and loving in a village in a beautiful part of the world and it describes this admirably and poetically. However, Stevenson has also convincingly conveyed, sometimes enigmatically, the sense of an inner journey that people who travel and who seek to find new lives also experience en route. --Christina McLoughlin

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