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The House in France: A Memoir Paperback – 7 Jun 2012

4.0 out of 5 stars 23 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Paperback: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Bloomsbury Paperbacks (7 Jun. 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1408822253
  • ISBN-13: 978-1408822258
  • Product Dimensions: 12.9 x 2.1 x 19.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (23 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 335,006 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

Review

'A superbly entertaining memoir full of delicious anecdote, witty portraiture, and unexpected pathos' (Zoe Heller)

'Travel, celebrity, infidelity - and a generous dose of Provence. Charming and fascinating' (Peter Mayle, author of A Year in Provence)

'Gully's writing is like her marvellous figure: lean, provocative and built for humour' (Rupert Everett)

The cast of characters in Gully Wells's memoir is certainly entertaining ... exquisitely delivered (Sunday Times)

So extravagantly entertaining are the opening chapters that you feel this might possibly be the most generous book ever written. Wells piles our plates high (Frances Wilson Times Literary Supplement)

Book Description

A vivid, funny and moving memoir about growing up in an astonishing family; a love-letter to a mother and to an extraordinary house

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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
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.
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Format: Hardcover
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.
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Format: Kindle Edition
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.Read more ›
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Format: Hardcover
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.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
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!
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