A Gift from Brittany

A Memoir of Love and Loss in the French Countryside

This is Midge’s story—A young and footloose artist from Chicago travels to Paris in 1960 to paint. Dazzled by everything French, she falls in love and marries Yves, a handsome and volatile French painter. What happens next gives her adventure a deeper meaning.

Midge and Yves buy half of a remote hamlet, deep in the French countryside, called La Salle, where they plan to spend their summers and where the peasants (whose lives have changed little since the Middle Ages) still speak an ancient language named Gallo. There, Midge encounters a world she never knew existed. Stepping back in time, she finds herself surrounded by people who are more like her ancestors than her contemporaries. As Midge’s seemingly idyllic marriage begins to unravel, she turns to Jeanne Montrelay, an elderly peasant woman, who lives in the nearest farm across the road. Jeanne is 68, illiterate, and has three cows to her name. She dresses in black, wears the low, white lace coif of the Morbihan, and has never left the village. Midge’s and Jeanne’s differences are staggering, yet they forge a friendship and transform each others’ life.

A Gift from Brittany is about two memorable relationships: one that tests strength; another that restores it. It takes the reader into a world that was once the heart of rural France – a world that has disappeared – and brings it to life again.

paperback (2009), Gotham Books
hardcover (2008), Gotham Books