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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.

Bridge Ladies
Alice In Bed
The Rivals Of Versailles

THE MOON SISTERS: a Wonderful Novel ~Therese Walsh

Wednesday, March 12th, 2014

I have never been hiking in West Virginia until I read THE MOON SISTERS, and yet I have encountered dreamers, sensible daughters, Polish grandmothers, handsome fathers, writer mothers, and violence against children.  THE MOON SISTERS is a Wonderful journey story of 2 sisters who are discovering their true selves, after the sudden death of their mother.  Suicide or Accident? They are sure they know the answer, the reason and they are bound up in each other’s story as they journey through the stages of death and their emotions.

I would just turn right around and read THE MOON SISTERS again; I am sure I could not capture all the symbolism and moments of truth.  My review schedule is too tight and full, I will have to reserve that pleasure for another read space.  When I do pick the book up again, I will pay more attention to references and a metaphor, such as the sun, dreaming, wanting, trees, trees of life, being stung, rail roads and highways right down to water, streams and bogs.

Olivia is 18,  partially blind, and is very spirited – “who can see sounds, taste words, and smell sights” – is certain beyond a doubt that she is to go to the Cranberry Bog, see will –o- the-wisps and complete her mother’s fantasy novel.  Jazz (22) is ready to move forward in her life and is shortly starting a new job; is practical, logical and full of anger.   Olivia sets out with her bag of her Mother’s ashes and the family insists that Jazz guide her sister through this journey of acceptance and understanding.

They encounter two other “characters”, train hoppers, as the sisters learn about other painful parenting problems which have been physically abusive and must proceed through their own journey of loss and recovery.  They are all on similar paths and stumbling through the forest of emotions together.  As they reflect emotions, the sisters are taking us into their lives and perceptions and figuring out new ways to proceed; – tasting emotions, seeing ideas, and smelling tomorrow.

“If you live your whole life hoping and dreaming the wrong things, what does that mean about your whole life?”

When you read THE MOON SISTERS take the time to think about what the Sun, Trees, Bogs, Blind Spots and Biscuits might be symbolizing – make wishes and learn from your dreams – take a walk to change your perspective and let others be themselves.   Learn about photisms and will-o’-the wisps, and take a few notes about the memories which come to your mind as you enjoy a cranberry biscuit and read until the wee hours.

I found it fun that Therese Walsh took the time to ask her Facebook readers to assist her in thinking up names for towns that could be found in West Virginia.  She researched lots of new terms and railroad talk, and had great local color in this fictional tale.   The author lives in upstate New York with her husband and two children.  She made this Tramp real.

tlc logoTLC Online Book Tours and The Crown Publishing Group sent me a proof copy of this delightful book and I was pleased to be on this tour – Nearly everyone I know would like reading THE MOON SISTERS.

Therese Walsh writers page on Facebook
Writer Unboxed

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My Mother’s Funeral
Step, Ball, Change 
The Isolation Door
So Far Away