THE FRENCH HOUSE

DON WALLACE

  • Paperback: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Sourcebooks (June 3, 2014)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1402293313
  • ISBN-13: 978-1402293313

 

About the Book*from Amazon*

June 3, 2014

“On a tiny French island, a couple of American dreamers redefine their lives by restoring a ruin—which in this lovely, shimmering story becomes a parable of a saner, greener, more sustainable path that we all can follow if we will but listen to the wisdom of the villagers the way the Wallaces did. The French House moves to a soulful, very funny rhythm all its own.”—Meryl Streep

“A brave, insightful, and very amusing memoir about a fantasy that many of us have had but not dared to attempt.”—Jane Smiley

When life hands you lemons, make citron pressé.

Shortly after Don and Mindy Wallace move to Manhattan to jump-start their writing careers, they learn of a house for sale in a village they once visited on a tiny French island off the Brittany coast. Desperate for a life change, the Wallaces bravely (and impulsively) buy it almost sight unseen.

What they find when they arrive is a ruin, and it isn’t long before their lives begin to resemble it—with hilarious and heartwarming results.

Redolent with the beauty and flavors of French country life, The French House is a lively, inspiring, and irresistibly charming memoir of a family that rises from the rubble, wins the hearts of a historic village, and finally finds the home they’ve been seeking off the wild coast of France.

“Don Wallace has crafted a delicious French bonbon of a book…full of humor, hope, and lessons on how to live a life full of meaning.”—Dani Shapiro, bestselling author of Devotion and Still Writing

The French House isn’t a memoir. It’s a vacation. Charming, gorgeous, perceptive, it is peppered with unforgettable characters and steeped in the deep red wine of long-term friendship, showing us how a remarkable place can make a life worth living.”—Jennie Fields, author of The Age of Desire

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About the author…

DON WALLACE has written fiction and non-fiction, journalism, films, reviews and opinion pieces, even the odd poem and song. He writes about a number of diverse environments: France, surfing, military history, business and entrepreneurs, the boating world, bass fishing, high school football, civil rights and Hawaiian music. He has been a magazine editor at Time Inc, Hearst, the New York Times, and Conde Nast and was most recently Film Editor at The Honolulu Weekly. From Long Beach, Calif, he attended Long Beach Poly, UC Santa Cruz, and the Iowa Writers’ Workshop; with his wife Mindy Pennybacker (The Green Guide, DO ONE GREEN THING) he lived in New York City for 27 years before returning to Mindy’s native Honolulu in 2009. Their son Rory Wallace lives in ManhattanDon’s new book is THE FRENCH HOUSE: An American Family, a Ruined Maison, and the Village that Restored Them All (Sourcebooks, June 3). It’s a memoir of over 30 years that he and his wife Mindy have spent on a tiny island off the coast of Brittany called Belle Ile. They first visited the island as wandering writers in 1980, and were lured by a siren (actually, a former college abroad professor of Mindy’s at Stanford)into buying a house in her village. It turned out to be a ruin. It nearly ruined their finances for 7 years, and yet–here they are, deeply enmeshed in rural village life on the Cote Sauvage, with friendships and more stories to tell than there is time. Meryl Streep calls it: “A lovely, shimmering story… The French House moves to a soulful, very funny rhythm all its own.
“Don’s last book was ONE GREAT GAME: Two Teams, Two Dreams, in the First-Ever High School National Championship Football Game (Atria, 2003; paper 2004; Kindle). It chronicled a year in the football life of Concord De La Salle of Northern California and Long Beach Polytechnic down South. De La Salle was undefeated for 11 seasons and coached by a legend, Bob Ladouceur; Poly, which as sent more players to the NFL than any high school, was coached by Raul Lara, a probation officer in his first season. These two high-contrast schools–De La Salle private and Catholic, mostly white, LB Poly public, located in the inner-city, the most diverse high school in America in the 2000 Census–jockeyed for position, trained and worried about a football game that was destined to go down in history. The path to the Oct 5, 2001 game is fascinating, but there’s more: a sociological study of public and private education, an inside story of how high school sports was being turned into a big business, and a moving personal account of kids, parents, teachers, coaches, fans and the author’s own family. When the tragedy of 9/11 alters ONE GREAT GAME’S trajectory–and, of course, America’s and the world’s–the story takes on added spiritual and human resonance. Finally, the game itself does not disappoint.

Don’s first novel, HOT WATER (Soho, 1991), is a comedy about a “rod and gun” marriage. Gar, the husband, wants to leave his job as a Coca-Cola bottling manager and become a pro bass fisherman. His mind is filled with the ways and wiles of the small-mouth bass. His wife, the formidable Virginia Roy, is bored with her life and filled with unformed ambition, thwarted by their provincial Southern life. A die-hard conservative, she turns to paintball, learns to love camouflage, and she decides her destiny is to be a mercenary. The genial put-upon Gar and the proto-Sarah Palin Virgina Roy are also a great love story, united above all by their devotion to each other–even if she does shoot him once in awhile (with a paintball gun).

Don has also written for The New York Times, Harper’s Magazine, Fast Company, Kirkus Reviews and many other publications. Along the way he has won awards such as the James Michener Copernicus Prize for a novel; the Pluma de Plata Mexicana for reporting about Mexico; and Author of the Year at Naval History Magazine. He attended the MacDowell Colony.

Don serialized a novel of the American Revolution for 3 years in Naval History Magazine: THE LOG OF MATTHEW ROVING (US Naval Institute Press), winning him Author of the Year honors in 2002.

Don is a featured subject in and contributor to WE WANTED TO BE WRITERS: Life, Love, and Literature at the Iowa Writers’ Workshop (Skyhorse, August 2011).

Don was the writer of a documentary about Hawaiian music, aired by PBS Hawaii, the Pacific Rim Film Festival in Santa Cruz and the Honolulu International Film Festival. THOSE WHO CAME BEFORE: The Musical Journey of Eddie Kamae, aired on July 28, 2011.

Don has worked, among others, as Executive editor at Time Inc and at The New York Times Magazine Group; as senior editor at Conde Nast and at Hearst; he has founded and created magazines, including Traveler’s Advantage and Golf Digest Woman. He has experience in all types of publications, including business, sports, women’s, travel, literary/general, environmental. He is a specialist in start-ups and custom publishing.

CONNECT & SOCIALIZE!

BLOGS: don-wallace.com; donwallacefranceblog.tumblr.com; A Salty Blog, at www.asaltydog.blogspot.com.

On the topic of “What It Means to Be a Writer Today” on wewantedtobewriters.com

WEBSITE: www.don-wallace.com


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