In 1960, Marjorie Price left her comfortable life in the Chicago suburbs to spend some time in Paris sketching and immersing herself in the French art world. She was twenty-eight, unmarried, and traveled alone, making her either brave or foolhardy, depending on what you thought about independent women in the days before the modern feminist movement.
What Marjorie didn't expect to find was love and a new home. From the moment she first saw Yves and his paintings, she was smitten. Other girls may have dreamed of a knight in shinning armor, but she wanted an artist with a studio.
The early years of their relationship--when Marjorie was still learning French and Yves was building his portfolio--were almost perfect: They had a beautiful daughter, discussed art, socialized with gallery owners and painters, and were very much in love. But when Yves decided to buy half a hamlet in Brittany, their lives changed in profound ways.
In A Gift from Brittany, Marjorie Price shares not only the sadness of her crumbling marriage and of personal betrayals but also the unexpected friendships, peace, and self-awareness she gained from her years in the village of La Salle. Throughout, Marjorie found her anchor in her nearest neighbor, Jeanne.
Although Jeanne was old enough to be her mother, could not read, and had never traveled farther than she could walk, the two women were true soul mates. The love and support between them grew strong, enriching both their lives. As Marjorie said:
My life is divided in two: before I knew [Jeanne], and after. Before I met her, I didn't know that women like her existed. Before I knew her, I had no idea how hard a woman's life could be or how brave and resilient a woman had to be to survive. Or how someone so intertwined with nature and centuries past could show me the kind of love for which I had always yearned. (p. 242)I too have been touched by the story of Jeanne and Marjorie.
To see some of Marjorie paintings and to see photographs of Jeanne and of La Salle, visit her website.
Please be sure to come back tomorrow for a guest post from Marjorie Price that includes one of Jeanne's traditional recipes. I am so excited to be able to share this with you.
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Published by Penguin Group/Gotham Books, 2009
Challenges: Women Unbound, New Author, 100+
Source: Review (see review policy)