I'll Never Be French (no matter what I do) (Hardcover)
Living in a Small Village in Brittany
Atria Books, 9781416586876, 256pp.
Publication Date: November 4, 2008
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Tired of Provence in books, cuisine, and tablecloths? Exhausted from your armchair travels to Paris? Despairing of ever finding a place that speaks to you beyond reason? You are ripe for a journey to Brittany, where author Mark Greenside reluctantly travels, eats of the cr pes, and finds a second life.
When Mark Greenside -- a native New Yorker living in California, doubting (not-as-trusting-as Thomas, downwardly mobile, political lefty, writer, and lifelong skeptic -- is dragged by his girlfriend to a tiny Celtic village in Brittany at the westernmost edge of France, in Finist re, "the end of the world," his life begins to change.
In a playful, headlong style, and with enormous affection for the Bretons, Greenside tells how he makes a life for himself in a country where he doesn't speak the language or know how things are done. Against his personal inclinations and better judgments, he places his trust in the villagers he encounters -- neighbors, workers, acquaintances -- and is consistently won over and surprised as he manages and survives day-to-day trials: from opening a bank account and buying a house to removing a beehive from the chimney -- in other words, learning the cultural ropes, living with neighbors, and making new friends. I'll Never Be French (no matter what I do)
is a beginning and a homecoming for Greenside, as his father's family emigrated from France. It is a memoir about fitting in, not standing out; being part of something larger, not being separate from it; following, not leading. It explores the joys and adventures of living a double life.
Praise For I'll Never Be French (no matter what I do): Living in a Small Village in Brittany…
"One of the nicest of the trillions of books about France." -- Diane Johnson, author of L'Affaire, Le Mariage, and Le Divorce
"This tale of how one man accidentally becomes a thoroughly integrated member of a French village is funny, insightful, and winningly self-deprecatory. (My favorite character may be the nervous insurance agent.) And Mark Greenside's version of rudimentary spoken French is actually a good demonstration of how to communicate in a language you don't know!" -- Lydia Davis, author of Varieties of Disturbance: Stories and translator of In Search of Lost Time by Marcel Proust
"A light, lighthearted, occasionally very funny romp through a region of France not well represented in the travel literature. With his fresh eye and self-deprecating wit, Greenside sketches a wry, cautionary tale for all those of us who are tempted by adventures in foreign real estate." -- Michael Sanders, author of From Here, You Can't See Paris: Seasons of a French Village and Its Restaurant
"Mark Greenside has written a sweet, evocative book about the pleasures and perplexities of buying and owning a house in a small town in France. It's a funny, enlightening journey. Sit back, relax, and enjoy the trip." -- Richard Goodman, author of French Dirt: The Story of a Garden in the South of France