THE HOUSE IN FRANCE by Gully Wells

THE HOUSE IN FRANCE

A Memoir

KIRKUS REVIEW

Memoir of the author’s mother and stepfather and the luminous social and intellectual circles in which they moved.

Remembering her mother, American journalist Dee Wells, and stepfather, Oxford philosopher A.J. Ayer, Condé Nast Traveler features editor Wells flits from decade to decade and celebrity to celebrity without too great a concern for chronology. Dee Wells and Ayer were two of the original 20th-century bohemians/hippies/free spirits. Dee in particular was terribly gratified when the ’60s finally caught up with their lifestyle. In her debut memoir, the author chronicles the many relationships—social and (mostly) sexual—of their set; the anecdotes are remarkable for their vivid attention to detail. All the tangential lives came together at La Migoua, the eponymous home which absorbed the characteristics of any and all who were welcomed there; the house reflected the spirit of Dee and her nonconformist outlook on life. The stories of Wells’ mother and Ayer are a delight to read and revealing when dealing with the captivating personalities of their generation, which included, among many others, Christopher Hitchens, Alan Bennett, Bertrand Russell, Iris Murdoch and Martin Amis. However, the author’s tendency to dwell on her own tiresome, personal tales, such as her quest to give up her virginity, slow the narrative and detract from the far more interesting story of Wells’ parents and their friends.

Too much teenage angst and not enough of the vibrant intellectual society that Wells illuminates in many of the chapters.

 

Pub Date: June 22nd, 2011
ISBN: 978-0-307-26980-5
Page count: 320pp
Publisher: Knopf
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15th, 2011




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