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A man of (tedious) letters
on 16 September 2008
This book isn't entirely awful - the jacket's quite pretty, and the section on Montpellier's recent history is interesting. But for the most part it is smug, self-centred and tedious.
It is presented as a series of letters to a relative of the author, most of which include an invitation to come and visit. The revelation, at the end of the book, that said relative never made it is mawkish, rather than moving, and frankly not that much of a surprise. Even as letters home, what is written here would not have been all that compelling.
In terms of insight into life in the modern Midi, there's very little. Such as there is concerns only the life of one privileged British expat. And given that most of the book is based on days out on bicycles or short trips on boats - little more than any tourist in the region might undertake - it is hard to see how any great understanding of the Languedoc or its natives can be expected. There may be a good book out there about the Languedoc, but this isn't it.