An exquisitely turned recall of a late fall spent at a pension in the suburbs of Marseilles in 1924, when with husband and small son the American author encountered some choice types and was in turn considered so by fellow boarders. The Chateau St. Barnabe was suspiciously well within their means -- it had a beautiful garden, indifferent furnishings, and dreadful food. It had a gardener, Jean, who benignly chaperoned Dee's play in his superlative domain. Then there was the saucy, flirtatious young Mme. Clark, her sly Maman, and at times her dogged English husband from off his ship. There were other ladies in black, the elderly pensionnaires who rushed with eager anxiety to the scene of the slightest accident to Dee -- and who were in their element when he was dragged by a trolley -- but the choicest and most piquantly intriguing was and Mme. Hongalet, an American who had been so long away from home that she could scarcely speak the tongue. Her story of a life spent longing for home throughout a girlhood spent in Jerusalem, through a fantastic chain of circumstances that saw a promised return perish in a ship aflame and a family debt paid in the coin of her marriage to a French captain leaving her forever adrift in France, forms the heart of the narrative. Captivating, with the richness and poignance of the season about it.