FRENCH DIRT by Richard Goodman


The Story of a Garden in the South of France
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 A minor gardening classic, perhaps, crisp as a big head of lettuce--though Goodman's lettuces tended in reality to be sour and best for penned rabbits. Goodman (a New York free-lance copywriter) and his Dutch girlfriend Iggy (who have since parted) answered an ad in the classified section of Journal Francaise d'Amerique that offered a stone house in a southern French village near Nimes/Avignon/Uzes (pop. 211--but Goodman uses an alias for the village). Once there, they found that the town had no stores, no cafe. As time passed in their wonderful stone house, they could make no fiends among the insulated villagers, so Goodman hired himself out as a vineyard laborer, and this in turn led him to borrow a plot of ground for raising a garden. The garden soon became an obsession for both ``crazy'' visitors. But difficulties with it led to making friends among the town's gardeners, each of whom had his own ideas about when to plant what and how to water the garden. The book is largely about the weather and nursing the plants and eventually the cruel, hard summer (the worst in years), whose heat almost destroyed the garden, with warmhearted sidebars on the local citizens--who thought at last that Goodman did very well with his garden, for an American. The most amusing moment is watching the author belatedly water the garden by moonlight at 2:30 a.m. All the personal stuff- -which might have added a larger crackle to the book--seems reserved for some other work. A great gift book, deliciously hard to put down.

Pub Date: Sept. 1st, 1991
ISBN: 0-945575-66-1
Page count: 224pp
Publisher: Algonquin
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 1st, 1991


NonfictionAMERICAN TERROIR by Rowan Jacobsen
by Rowan Jacobsen