The House in France

The House in France

A Memoir

Book - 2011
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Set in Provence, London, and New York, this is a daughter's brilliant and witty memoir of her mother and stepfather--Dee Wells, the glamorous and rebellious American journalist, and A. J. Ayer, the celebrated and worldly Oxford philosopher--and the life they lived at the center of absolutely everything.

Gully Wells takes us into the heart of London's lively, liberated intellectual inner circle of the 1960s. Here are Alan Bennett, Isaiah Berlin, Iris Murdoch, Bertrand Russell, Jonathan Miller, Martin Amis, Christopher Hitchens, Robert Kennedy, and Claus von B#65533;low, and later in New York a completely different mix: Mayor John Lindsay, Mike Tyson, and lingerie king Fernando S#65533;nchez. We meet Wells's adventurous mother, a television commentator earning a reputation for her outspoken style and progressive views, and her stepfather, an icon in the world of twentieth-century philosophy, proving himself as prodigious a womanizer as he is a thinker. Woven throughout is La Migoua, the old farmhouse in France, where evenings were spent cooking bouillabaisse with fish bought that morning in the market in Bandol, and afternoons included visits to M. F. K. Fisher's favorite caf#65533; on the Cours Mirabeau in Aix, with a late-night stop at the bullfighters' bar in Arles. The house perched on a hill between Toulon and Marseille was where her parents and their friends came together every year, and where Gully herself learned some of the enduring lessons of a life well lived.

The House in France is a spellbinding story with a luminous sense of place and a dazzling portrait of a woman who "caught the spirit of the sixties" and one of the most important intellectual figures of the twentieth century, drawn from the vivid memory of the child who adored them both.
Publisher: New York : Knopf, 2011.
ISBN: 9780307269805
Characteristics: 307 pages, 16 unnumbered pages of plates : illustrations ; 25 cm


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Jun 22, 2013

This is a very flat memoir, with the author's approach to life as "everything is good". If her parents and the people in their circle were indeed intellectuals, there is no sharing of what they thought about or talked about. Many of the main characters are unknown to-day. Many of the people whose names are still known seem to have been merely acquaintaines or neighbours, so there is no insight provided about their lives. Wells' mother seems to have been a truly awful person whom Wells describes without emotion or judgement. Disappointing.

debwalker Oct 07, 2011

Such interesting lives in such a beautiful place.

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