Customer Reviews


16 Reviews
5 star:
 (8)
4 star:
 (3)
3 star:
 (3)
2 star:
 (1)
1 star:
 (1)
 
 
 
 
 
Average Customer Review
Share your thoughts with other customers
Create your own review
 
 

The most helpful favourable review
The most helpful critical review


12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Delighful and funny memoir
The blurb above gives a good overview of the interesting characters who pepper this lively memoir but what it fails to do justice to is the humour and insight which permeate the book throughout. I had never heard of Gully Wells before or a good half of the people described - many are long dead and I am probably the wrong generation (or ignorant!). But it doesn't matter...
Published on 2 July 2011 by Annabel B

versus
3.0 out of 5 stars A coming-of-age love affair with a French Farmhouse
I really enjoyed this. It isn't like other French memoir books written by expats whose sole focus is their penny-pinching ways, the fear they'll move back to the UK, crap artisans, the faux pas they make with the language - rather this one is very much a holiday home. Consequently the author doesn't just describe halcyon days beneath the French sunshine (of which they are...
Published 6 months ago by S Winspur


‹ Previous | 1 2 | Next ›
Most Helpful First | Newest First

12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Delighful and funny memoir, 2 July 2011
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
The blurb above gives a good overview of the interesting characters who pepper this lively memoir but what it fails to do justice to is the humour and insight which permeate the book throughout. I had never heard of Gully Wells before or a good half of the people described - many are long dead and I am probably the wrong generation (or ignorant!). But it doesn't matter. Wells brings the unusual and rich world of her past wonderfully alive and I laughed out loud at some of the events described. Her relationship with her mother Dee is also marvellously and movingly portrayed. Highly recommended.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


19 of 20 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Part travelloge and part family history, 28 Jun 2011
By 
Jill Meyer (United States) - See all my reviews
(TOP 500 REVIEWER)    (REAL NAME)   
Gully Wells has written a wonderful memoir that deals frankly with both family history and dynamics in relation to her mother's holiday home in Provence. Wells, editor and writer at Conde Nast's Traveler, is the British born-and-raised daughter of two Americans who separated after her birth. She was raised in London by her mother and step-father, the noted philosopher A.J. Ayer. She also spent time with her father, an American in the diplomatic service. But the main emphasis - and the second lead character - is on Gully's mother, Dee Wells Ayer.

Dee Wells moved to London in the mid-1950's - young daughter in tow - after divorcing her husband. Dee and the ex split up on very good terms and remained friends and active in each other's lives until Dee's death. In fact, almost everyone in Gully's life were on good terms with everyone else. Former girlfriends and lovers mixed with current and future ones and the crowd Dee and Freddy (Ayer) ran with were amazingly, say, "lenient" in their morals. But they were a creative and intellectual bunch - Martin Amis, Bertrand Russell, Christopher Hitchins were among the few in the Ayers/Wells "crowd". Gully was given an education along the way and ended up at Oxford. She eventually married and settled with her - one and only - husband in the US.

But along the way, Gully Wells had fun. Fun in London, Oxford, Paris, the South of France, and New York. She had many friends - both male and female - but her closest friend was probably her mother, Dee. By turns loving, mercurial, perplexing, and other ying/yangs, Dee had a profound influence on Gully. And no where was that felt more than in Dee's house near Toulon. Dee entertained at the house and there were always visitors and adventures, both at home and at the restaurants and beaches in Provence. Meals, no matter where taken, were always treats in culinary adventures. Gully Wells name and place drops on almost every page, but rather than sounding like braggadocio, her stories are always interesting. Two degrees of separation between intellectual and artistic giants, and all that, all in Dee and Gully's lives and homes.

Wells is a very good writer. You might not know all the people she writes about - most are gone now - but you'll probably wish you did, after reading her memoir.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Love and Laughter, 27 Jun 2011
Gully Wells has the uncommon gift of bringing love and laughter to the story of her life. This is a memoir in which everything shines - the characters that surrounded her as she grew up, many famous in their day, and regarded as glamorous by those who knew them only from TV or the printed page, but seen here in all their "warts and all" glory, from a precocious child's eye view. With great affection, and a wonderfully well developed caricaturist's gift, she skewers the adults she knew in the 60s and 70s like some adolescent Levi-Strauss or Jane Goodall dissecting her world of chimps. Her ferociously rude and mordant mother, the American journalist and self-invented adventuress, Dee Wells; her brilliant but hapless and comically impractical step father, the Oxford philosopher, A.J. Ayer. The latter philandered his way obsessively through London, Paris and New York,like a pear shaped Don Juan, but was barely able to tie his shoe laces or boil an egg, apparently. On page after page, the book -- which in no way depends on the reader knowing who any of these once-illustrious people were -- is "laugh-out-loud" funny. In a life lived in constant motion, punctuated by adultery betrayal and divorce, the little summer house that belonged to her mother in the hills of Provence -- a magical place painted by Cezanne and van Gogh, and here brought deliciously to life by Wells in words -- was her still point in a whirligig world. It was here, in an old Provencal mas, among the vines and olives that grow on ancient terraces all around, that she had her first kiss, her first glass of (Rose de Bandol) wine, lost her virginity to the local hairdresser (hilariously described), learned to cook bouillabaisse, and boef en daube, lounged in bed all day with her latest lover, studied the the foibles of the unlovely half-naked French bourgeoisie on the local beach, and much later, brought her children to meet their grandmother each summer. In the end she buried Dee Wells' ashes on the terrace by the kitchen. There is no remorse here, no sentimentality no retribution. "The House in France" is a beautiful, clear-eyed, generous, forgiving book about lives well lived. I have rarely enjoyed a memoir more.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars La vie de boheme., 18 Jun 2011
By 
Mrs Curzon Tussaud (London, U.K.) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
Gully Wells's book is an account of her mother's life, with the "hook" of the family home in France forming the backbone. Her writing style is natural and easy, and the characters who appear in the story are mostly familiar ones from the world of publishing and journalism over the past 30 years or so. Far from the misery memoirs which clog up bookshops, this is a delightful story, well told, about interesting and loving people.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An unexpected gem of a book., 10 Feb 2012
By 
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
I expected, on starting this book, which my wife had bought for her Kindle, to enjoy a story about Brits settling in France, and all their experiences with the locals. Froth, in other words, nothing deep and serious. And so what a VERY pleasant surprise I had on starting to absorb a fascinating life story, with a host of both famous and memorable characters. The charismatic, but domineering and dizzy mother; the philosopher/philanderer step-father. The famous boyfriends. Life in the fast-lane in the Swinging Sixties.
Gully Wells' writing reminds me of Nancy Mitford at her very best-penetrating, moving, acerbic and very witty-some of her descriptions had me laughing uncontrollably. Especially about the man in charge of the local beach.

Please, Gully, go on to write a novel, or several!
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A pleasure, 12 Dec 2012
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: The House in France: A Memoir (Paperback)
Wonderfully told memoir of the authors youth, her mother and the world they inhabited. Captures a sense of time and place convincingly and is both funny and ultimately very moving
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


5.0 out of 5 stars Fantastic read, 16 Jun 2014
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: The House in France: A Memoir (Paperback)
I absolutely adored this book. Read it while on holiday in France - perfect timing indeed. Highly recommended to all.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


3.0 out of 5 stars A coming-of-age love affair with a French Farmhouse, 25 Jan 2014
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
I really enjoyed this. It isn't like other French memoir books written by expats whose sole focus is their penny-pinching ways, the fear they'll move back to the UK, crap artisans, the faux pas they make with the language - rather this one is very much a holiday home. Consequently the author doesn't just describe halcyon days beneath the French sunshine (of which they are plenty) she also paints an equally rich tapestry of life back in the UK too (celebrity alert: Nigella Lawson's mother also makes an appearance as the author's father's mistress). There are the obligatory renovations of the house, the trips to the food markets and the endless days out on the beach (the author loses her virginity with a local and it is so so brilliantly described!). The affluent background of the author makes it a sort-of fabulous read.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


4.0 out of 5 stars Enjoyable, 2 Oct 2013
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
A fascinating insight into family relationships. Interesting references to well known people. I would recommend this book for a holiday read.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


4.0 out of 5 stars A good read, 30 Jun 2013
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
I originally heard part of this book on radio 4. I enjoyed the book, a fascinating picture of eccentric people and a house in France - and a recipe for boulliabaise.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


‹ Previous | 1 2 | Next ›
Most Helpful First | Newest First

This product

The House in France: A Memoir
The House in France: A Memoir by Gully Wells (Paperback - 7 Jun 2012)
5.59
In stock
Add to basket Add to wishlist
Only search this product's reviews