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The Chateau by William Maxell

To get in the mood for my trip to Paris I bought the book The Chateau by William Maxwell. I was quite satisfied with the story.

The simple summary is:

It is 1948 and a young American couple arrive in France for a holiday, full of anticipation and enthusiasm. But the countryside and people are war-battered, and their reception at the Chateau Beaumesnil is not all the open-hearted Americans could wish for.

The first third of the book is Harold and Barbara's stay at the chateau. The most of the rest of the book takes place in Paris, where they continue the relations they formed in at the chateau. The book is full of the thoughts and doubts one has when trying to establish acquaintances in a foreign land and in a foreign tongue. Some of the problems when “trying to live like a local”.

I found the story very interesting, and there were a few situations where I felt the same as Harold. Beyond the story, it was fun to observe the way they traveled. Harold and Barbara took one suitcase full of sugar, coffee, toilet paper, and American cigarettes. And what didn't American Expess do?

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Thank you for the info, dlindstrom. This sounds like an enjoyable book. Having not yet read it, I have to ask, was the supply of American cigarettes for their personal use, just for a holiday? Just how many packs of Luckys, Camels, or Pall Malls did they haul with them? Guess they didn’t want to get stuck with Gauloises or Gitanes. And I guess it was the ‘40s after all. Now I avoid smoking at every opportunity!