Subtitled Rediscovering the Art of Living in the Heart of France, McAdams pens an interesting and honest memoir of a newly married couple renovating a home in a French mountain village.
I was surprised at some of the poor reviews on Goodreads. Perhaps some people are continually looking for another version of Frances Mayes’ Under the Tuscan Sun. This is a narrative about a couple who hopes to get away for a real honeymoon, and ends up committing themselves to endless months of stress. Along the way, there is beauty and good food and new friendships. But there is also a glimpse at a struggling marriage, attempts at communication when the author speaks little French, and a culture that in surprising ways is quite alien to our American way of living.
One of the aspects of the book that fascinated me was the blue collar work life. The owner of a small business explains to McAdams how his workers are guaranteed six weeks paid vacation, numerous required holidays, long lunch hours and short work days. This means, he explains, that owners like him can never take a vacation or even a day off, and the state taxes them to death to pay for the all the health and retirement benefits France guarantees. McAdams seems convinced that this type of security eliminates the desire for ambition or money, but I’m not so sure. I’d definitely like to read more on the subject.
Another interesting part of the book involved an elderly woman named Madame Fontaine, who told of her involvement with the Resistance during World War II. McAdams asked her how she felt about the people of this region putting their lives on the line while many Parisians collaborated with the Nazis. She explained the Paris is not France is their eyes, and Parisians are not French. I found that perspective fascinating and found it eerily reminiscent of today’s America being divided by the patriotic mid-America and the elite urban centers of the coasts.
I enjoyed this book very much and hope that others will love it as much as I did.
4 stars (out of 5)
Published in 2010
Amazon Book Preview of Bon Courage