Finding Fontainebleau: An American Boy in France (Hardcover)
Those of you who read and loved The Piano Shop on the Left Bank will rejoice at Carhart's latest look at a bygone France. Those who are encountering Carhart for the first time are in for a delicious treat. No one, in my reading, describes and interprets the French, their culture, and their history with the same acute perception and nuance. In Finding Fontainebleau, Carhart combines a charming memoir of a large American family discovering France in the Fifties with a modern day revisiting of the chateau itself -- in many ways more interesting than its more famous and glamorous cousin, Versailles. So fasten your seatbelts and enjoy this first-class excursion with the best possible guide.— From Finding Fontainebleau
A beguiling memoir of a childhood in 1950s France from the much-admired New York Times bestselling author of The Piano Shop on the Left Bank "Like the castle, Carhart's] memoir imaginatively and smoothly integrates multiple influences, styles and whims."--The New York Times For a young American boy in the 1950s, Fontainebleau was a sight both strange and majestic, home to a continual series of adventures: a different language to learn, weekend visits to nearby Paris, family road trips to Spain and Italy. Then there was the chateau itself: a sprawling palace once the residence of kings, its grounds the perfect place to play hide-and-seek. The curiosities of the small town and the time with his family as expats left such an impression on him that thirty years later Carhart returned to France with his wife to raise their two children. Touring Fontainebleau again as an adult, he began to appreciate its influence on French style, taste, art, and architecture. Each trip to Fontainebleau introduces him to entirely new aspects of the chateau's history, enriching his memories and leading him to Patrick Ponsot, the head of the chateau's restoration, who becomes Carhart's guide to the hidden Fontainebleau.
What emerges is an intimate chronicle of a time and place few have experienced. In warm, precise prose, Carhart reconstructs the wonders of his childhood as an American in postwar France, attending French schools with his brothers and sisters. His firsthand account brings to life nothing less than France in the 1950s, from the parks and museums of Paris to the rigors of French schooling to the vast chateau of Fontainebleau and its village, built, piece by piece, over many centuries. Finding Fontainebleau is for those captivated by the French way of life, for armchair travelers, and for anyone who has ever fallen in love with a place they want to visit over and over again.
About the Author
The son of an air force officer, Thad Carhart grew up in a variety of places, including Washington, D.C.; Fontainebleau, France; Minneapolis; Amherst, Massachusetts; and Tokyo. After graduating from Yale, he worked for the State Department as an interpreter. His first book, The Piano Shop on the Left Bank, appeared in 2000, published by Random House. Across the Endless River, a historical novel, came out in 2009 with Doubleday. He lives in Paris.