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FINDING FONTAINEBLEAU: An American Boy in France ~ Thad Carhart

Monday, July 11th, 2016

“Long before mass tourism and globalization, France was simple, soulful, and every inch stimulating.  Carhart knew it all and shares this with us with the deftness and insight of a master storyteller.”  (Cover:  Leonard Pitt, author of WALKS THROUGH LOST PARIS)

FINDING FONTAINBEBLEAU is a beguiling memoir of post war France with loving stories about baguettes and penmanship learned with quill pens and black ink.  I enjoyed every page and every story in this book and was sad when I turned the last page.  At age 4, Carhart’s military family was moved from the Virginia suburbs to Fontainebleau, France.  The family celebrated their move with trips all over the countryside and discoveries while attending French schools.  With five children and a big old “woodie” Chevy station wagon they explored.  The author captures a great deal about French culture and habits.  It is a remarkable story.

The Nazi invasion truly made a difference to the hearts and minds of the French and the subtle protections on the individual levels are recorded in the stories.  PBS is doing a series on the importance of NATO and this story talks about the beginnings of those treaties.  War changes so much.
About the Author

The son of an air force officer, Thad Carhart grew up in a variety of places, including Washington, D.C.; Fontainebleau, France; Minneapolis; Amherst, Massachusetts; and Tokyo. After graduating from Yale, he worked for the State Department as an interpreter. His first book, The Piano Shop on the Left Bank, appeared in 2000, published by Random House. Across the Endless River, a historical novel came out in 2009 with Doubleday. He lives in Paris. (AMAZON)

Thad Carhart Website
Thad Carhart Facebook
Thad Carhart Twitter

I was constantly thinking about who I wanted to share this book with and for what occasion.  Carhart has returned to France with his family as an adult and has been given tours by the architect who is refurbishing The Castle Fontainebleau.  The layers of tile, the roofing material, the commitment of the people of France to their historic sites and the damage done by millions of tourists as they visit is fascinating.  Then the stories of the Kings, Queens, Mistresses and how they changed the buildings and added on to the design, and how consistent and authentic the designs and repairs were to the original buildings – fascinating.

The author’s Mother and the recorded stories about the 5 siblings and their adjustments to a new house and country are loving and often humorous.  The word delightful just keeps coming to mind.

I just wrapped up my copy for the biking architect in my family as his birthday is tomorrow and he will so enjoy this story to the max.  It did make me want to visit France and particularly Fontainebleau.  I have been excitedly talking about the book at my book groups as even though it is a very different read, I think they will enjoy the look at the 50s and what it would be like to be transplanted, not knowing the language, as a child.

TLC Book Tours   sent this book to me for review and it is wonderful.

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THE EXILES: A Novel ~Allison Lynn

Friday, July 19th, 2013


To be in a state of EXILE one must be in a state or period of forced absence from one’s country or home according to Webster’s Dictionary.   It was interesting to be reading THE EXILES while our news is full of a young man, Ed Snowden, who is currently experiencing an exile on the global stage.

Nate, a middle range employee on Wall Street, and his girlfriend Emily are moving from the wealthy lifestyle in New York City to a position in Rhode Island and a house that they have purchased and believe they will be able to afford.  This is a young couple in financial exile and in shock about losing their dreams and friends.   They load up their Jeep to the brim with air mattresses, clothing, their financial papers and baby arriving in their new city on a holiday weekend in time to pick up their house keys.  When they exit the reality office with their key, baby, stroller, diaper bag, and cell phones they discover that the Jeep has been stolen.

The police are helpful but the “shocks” keep rolling in as they discover they have very little cash, no credit cards or bank money available and maybe no motel room available on this holiday weekend in October.  With an officer’s assistance and because Nate had stayed at one of the fancier hotels when he was job hunting; they were able to stay in a suite, raid the mini bar, and use their bit of cash for diapers and baby food.  The first steps towards finding home and ending THE EXILE experience.

Whenever we are in shock, humans need to search their history to find relief, to open the channels for recovery towards a future.  Much of Lynn’s story is the back story of childhoods of Nate and Emily. What were they hoping for, what are they giving up and how their future hinges on caring for baby Trevor.   Thus begins a secondary story about Nate’s father George, a fairly successful international, Chicago architect, who has distanced himself from his family because buildings are just more important to him and what they will say about him in his future.  George is also on the road heading to his father’s home in Rhode Island.  George has chosen his EXILE.

The author actually understands the finances of the practice of architecture, and I truly enjoyed reading about how the money flows in and out; that there are times of feast and the corresponding famine during the rhythms of any given year or season.  There was little mention of the CFO’s role in an architect’s life, I think it could have added more dimension to Nate’s character and his review of his mother’s experience.  I was happy I could read between the lines, interpret and maybe the reader does not need to make this connection, though it weighted my analysis into the plus column.

The novel is also about Huntington’s disease and how we all fear the loss of control or having our mind controlled.  How we do not want to pass any of our weaknesses on to our children and how those fears can propel our responsibilities and our outlook.    Too many secrets, which of course improved the telling of the story and the reader turning the pages; the writer is skilled at her craft.

I found myself on the third page hoping that this story would have a happy ending and as in the way of great storytellers I was satisfied with the last pages and wishing the characters well.   I enjoyed reading THE EXILES.

Allison Lynn Books  
About the Author page 

If you purchase anything from the site from Amazon or Powell’s I will receive a few blossoms in my bouquet.  Thank you.  Donations also welcomed.

tlc logo I received an uncorrected proof copy from TLC online book tours and Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishers.  I appreciated the good read and am pleased to share that there will be a giveaway copy of this book offered for a comment.  Yep!  A Free BOOK.

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