Don and Mindy Wallace have always been Francophiles, so when they had the opportunity to buy a home on a small French island off the coast of Brittany, they jumped-sight unseen-into a crumbling mess that challenged their finances and their family.Read more...
Don and Mindy Wallace have always been Francophiles, so when they had the opportunity to buy a home on a small French island off the coast of Brittany, they jumped-sight unseen-into a crumbling mess that challenged their finances and their family.
But when the Wallaces arrived on the island they found a building in ruin, and it wasn't long before their lives resembled it. Plagued by emergency repairs, a stock market crash, and very exasperated French neighbors, Don and Mindy could have accepted their fate. Instead, they embraced it.
Redolent with the beauty and flavors of French country life, The French House is a lively, inspiring, and irresistibly charming memoir. Fans of Under the Tuscan Sun (Frances Mayes), Paris in Love (Eloisa James), and A Year in Provence (Peter Mayle) will be enchanted by this account 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.What readers are saying about The French House
"The French House is engaging and well-written and will make even non-Francophiles yearn for a trip to France."
"With hauntingly beautiful descriptions of a tiny French island and its inhabitants, this book will take you to a different place, and might even inspire you to reconsider your life and finally follow your dreams where you and your family can become whole."
..".charming and witty -- full of hope and despair about this crumbling structure they chose to inhabit and make a home."
"I was captivated from the outset and felt like I was on their island living it all with them. A great read "What reviewers are saying about The French House
"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
"Village life vignettes, the sensual celebration of island pleasures, eccentric neighbors, cuisine, beach life, natural history-readers will find a smattering of all that in these pages, but it's the story below, like the unshakeable foundations of the house itself, that makes this such a satisfying read."-Rain Taxi Review
"The French House is a darling book that mixes local history, memoir, quirky characters, architectural challenges (what will the village elders do if they add windows to the second floor?) and humor...It was a lovely adventure and perfect for a summer read."-Under a Gray Sky
"The French House is a detailed, delightful memoir of their journey to restore a dilapidated abode into a beckoning sanctuary in an idyllic coast French countryside.. I have thoroughly been devouring it, and I think you will too."-The Simply Luxurious Life
"Author Don Wallace shares the heartwarming story about his family's 30-year journey to restore a ruined cottage on the tiny French island of Belle Ile off the coast of Brittany... readers are privy to the charming true story of a family's journey to create the perfect home away from home."--E News
Finding joie de vivre with a little elbow grease
It’s easy to understand why Don Wallace and his wife Mindy were captivated by a beautiful French island called Belle Île. Don, who grew up in California, and Mindy, who was from Hawaii, were living in a cramped, dark Manhattan apartment. Belle Île’s sunshine and surf spoke to their soul.
Nonetheless, their decision to buy a dilapidated house on the small island off the coast of Brittany didn’t make financial sense, as Wallace readily admits in The French House. The purchase wiped out their savings, and the structure still needed major repairs (or more accurately, rebuilding). As this pair of writers struggled to make a living, they had neither the time nor money to return to Belle Île for years. When they finally did, they were met with surf and sun, but also a battered home with “dust, dirt, mold everywhere.”
Don and Mindy feared they had made a terrible mistake, a view bolstered by Don’s mother’s observation: “This isn’t at all like A Year in Provence!”
In the end, the 30 years needed to restore the house did fill the family’s soul. Along with the dust, dirt and construction, they encountered a village full of kind (and sometimes crusty) characters. Mindy, Don and their son, Rory, spent idyllic weeks and months on the island, roaming its paths, enjoying picnics and Breton delicacies, watching shooting stars and soaking up the sun. They added their own touch to island life, teaching their friends and neighbors to surf. Despite their brief stays each year, they became part of the village.
The French House is a wonderful summer read, a spirited mixture of joy and nerve-wracking nitty gritty. No, it may not be A Year in Provence, but it’s the heartfelt story of a 30-year love affair with an unforgettable place.