Warm, funny and full of heart.



A journalist and fiction writer’s account of how a crumbling house he bought on a French island became his family’s unexpected refuge and salvation.

Wallace (One Great Game: Two Teams, Two Dreams, in the First Ever National Championship High School Football Game, 2003, etc.) and his wife, Mindy, were two wayward surfer-writers with big dreams when they first saw Belle Ile. Their other island home, Manhattan, “was doing its best to shake [them] off, the way a dog does fleas.” A French professor friend named Gwened told them about a cottage that was for sale in the Belle Ile town of Kebordardoue. Broke but craving stability, the couple bought the house almost sight unseen. Only after they saw the cottage two years later did they realize how they had been lured into becoming property owners by the charmingly manipulative Gwened to help spare Kebordardoue from becoming a seaside tourist attraction. The cottage was unlivable and needed costly repairs they could not afford, and it was also located in a village that did not easily accept new residents, especially foreign ones with the idea of becoming absentee landowners. Monetary and logistical challenges threatened to derail the Wallaces’ restoration plans, but with pluck, humor and help from the indomitable Gwened, they made the ruined cottage livable again. They also learned to navigate the tricky social waters that separated them from their colorful, often eccentric neighbors. Over time, Wallace and his wife went from being the laughingstocks of Kebordadoue to beloved community members who helped popularize surfing on Belle Ile. Family, career and financial crises inevitably intervened along the way. But the “maison saine, ”or healthy house, that Gwened helped them rebuild to preserve a small island town became their own “sane” space of tranquility in the midst of life storms.

Warm, funny and full of heart.

Pub Date: June 3, 2014

ISBN: 978-1-4022-9331-3

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Sourcebooks

Review Posted Online: April 20, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 2014

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If the authors are serious, this is a silly, distasteful book. If they are not, it’s a brilliant satire.


The authors have created a sort of anti-Book of Virtues in this encyclopedic compendium of the ways and means of power.

Everyone wants power and everyone is in a constant duplicitous game to gain more power at the expense of others, according to Greene, a screenwriter and former editor at Esquire (Elffers, a book packager, designed the volume, with its attractive marginalia). We live today as courtiers once did in royal courts: we must appear civil while attempting to crush all those around us. This power game can be played well or poorly, and in these 48 laws culled from the history and wisdom of the world’s greatest power players are the rules that must be followed to win. These laws boil down to being as ruthless, selfish, manipulative, and deceitful as possible. Each law, however, gets its own chapter: “Conceal Your Intentions,” “Always Say Less Than Necessary,” “Pose as a Friend, Work as a Spy,” and so on. Each chapter is conveniently broken down into sections on what happened to those who transgressed or observed the particular law, the key elements in this law, and ways to defensively reverse this law when it’s used against you. Quotations in the margins amplify the lesson being taught. While compelling in the way an auto accident might be, the book is simply nonsense. Rules often contradict each other. We are told, for instance, to “be conspicuous at all cost,” then told to “behave like others.” More seriously, Greene never really defines “power,” and he merely asserts, rather than offers evidence for, the Hobbesian world of all against all in which he insists we live. The world may be like this at times, but often it isn’t. To ask why this is so would be a far more useful project.

If the authors are serious, this is a silly, distasteful book. If they are not, it’s a brilliant satire.

Pub Date: Sept. 1, 1998

ISBN: 0-670-88146-5

Page Count: 430

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 1998

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The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the...


Elie Wiesel spent his early years in a small Transylvanian town as one of four children. 

He was the only one of the family to survive what Francois Maurois, in his introduction, calls the "human holocaust" of the persecution of the Jews, which began with the restrictions, the singularization of the yellow star, the enclosure within the ghetto, and went on to the mass deportations to the ovens of Auschwitz and Buchenwald. There are unforgettable and horrifying scenes here in this spare and sombre memoir of this experience of the hanging of a child, of his first farewell with his father who leaves him an inheritance of a knife and a spoon, and of his last goodbye at Buchenwald his father's corpse is already cold let alone the long months of survival under unconscionable conditions. 

The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the sphere of suffering shared, and in this case extended to the death march itself, there is no spiritual or emotional legacy here to offset any reader reluctance.

Pub Date: Jan. 16, 2006

ISBN: 0374500010

Page Count: 120

Publisher: Hill & Wang

Review Posted Online: Oct. 7, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2006

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