Mademoiselle Benoir (Hardcover)

By Christine Conrad

Houghton Mifflin, 9780618574797, 230pp.

Publication Date: January 4, 2006



Tim Reinhart enters a wondrous new world the moment he buys a farmhouse in the country of France, region of Quercy, department of Lot. Or, in his marvelous words, From the moment I saw this property, I had a bead on it. I can’t completely explain why, but I had an intense feeling of belonging.” He has given up his teaching life in New York and begun working as the artist he’s always wanted to be.

Letters written to his family back home sweep the reader up in Tim’s schooling in, and awakening to, the pastoral French lifestyle. From the attention to food (meals seem to Tim a semireligious rite) to the delightfully quirky neighbors who appear to spring straight out of a Balzac novel, we share Tim’s ever-growing pleasures and adventures.

But his enchantment with this foreign land becomes far more complicated when his drawingsand then Tim himselfcatch the eye of Mademoiselle Benoir, a beautiful, aristocratic woman twenty years his senior. Their decision to marry sets off a cluster bomb, uncovering incendiary layers of emotional and cultural complexity on both sides of the Atlantic, as his family tries to reason with him, her family declares war, and the villagers choose sides. Will tradition triumph over love?

Inspired by a true story, this is a delicious stew with something for everyone.

Christine Conrad has worked as the New York City film commissioner, as an editor in book publishing, as a screenwriter for motion pictures and television, and as an advocate for women's health. Her most recent book, Jerome Robbins, is a pictorial biography inspired by her long friendship with the choreographer.

Praise For Mademoiselle Benoir

"'A Year in Provence' meets 'Le Mariage' in this epistolary first novel....Mademoiselle Benoir combines middle-aged romance with lots of day-to-day detail about life in rural France...a pleasant excursion. Catherine Deneuve would be a perfect Catherine; and for Tim, who else but Ashton Kutcher?" The New York Times Book Review