Archive for the ‘Ex-pats in France’ Category

If you’re a weekend Telegraph reader, you’ve probably come across Michael Wright. He’s one of the many Brits who’ve up-sticks and crossed the Channel in search of a better life, subsiding his new farm-country existence by writing a weekly column called C’est La Folie. The column is the inspiration for one of the most entertaining books about the transition to French life that I’ve come across so far, also named C’est La Folie.

The book starts out with entertaining anecdotes explaining why MW decides to leave London and his job as a theatre critic. We don’t need much convincing that he’s right to leave sunny Dulwich for a ramshackle house in need of his love and attention. La Folie, as it’s called, is suitably close to an aerodrome, so MW might be able to take his plane (if there’s ever an opening on the waiting list, that is), and there’s plenty of room for his beloved feline companion, with all the mouse-hunting opportunities that a country house provides.

C’est La Folie follows MW’s assimilation into the community of ‘Jolibois’, a false name for a real place, created in the interests of privacy. His quest for love pops up from time to time, we meet his neighbours, his visitors and the local pharmacist, who helps him with a sensitive medical issue concerning hens. An unexpectedly¬† important part is played by MW’s sheep. Dwarf-like with wool likened to Rastafarian dreadlocks, their personalities are as individual and vibrant as the people described in these pages. If you’re an animal person, you’ll be laughing one minute and close to crying the next as you work your way through this tale.

When I turned the last page of C’est La Folie, I immediately wanted to read the next instalment. For that, we’ll have to wait, but any curiosity regarding MW’s progress in France can be assuaged by tuning into his column. This is a self-deprecating character who has worked hard to fit into a very different lifestyle from the one he left behind in London. Unlike some other writers in the same vein, he is refreshingly un-snobbish about it. That’s what makes this book even more fun to read. Highly recommended.

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