Author(s): Adam Thorpe
Description: Adam Thorpe's home for the past 25 years has been an old house in the Cevennes, a wild range of mountains in southern France. Prior to this, in an ancient millhouse in the oxbow of a Cevenol river, he wrote the novel that would become the Booker Prize-nominated Ulverton, now a Vintage Classic. In more recent writing Thorpe has explored the Cevennes, drawing on the legends, history and above all the people of this part of France for his inspiration. In his charming journal, Notes from the Cevennes, Thorpe takes up these themes, writing about his surroundings, the village and his house at the heart of it, as well as the contrasts of city life in nearby Nimes. In particular he is interested in how the past leaves impressions - marks - on our landscape and on us. What do we find in the grass, earth and stone beneath our feet and in the objects around us? How do they tie us to our forebears? What traces have been left behind and what marks do we leave now? He finds a fossil imprinted in the single worked stone of his house's front doorstep, explores the attic once used as a silk factory and contemplates the stamp of a chance paw in a fragment of Roman roof-tile. Elsewhere, he ponders mutilated fleur-de-lys (French royalist symbols) in his study door and unwittingly uses the tomb-rail of two sisters buried in the garden as a gazebo. Then there are the personal fragments that make up a life and a family history: memories dredged up by `dusty toys, dried-up poster paints, a painted clay lump in the bottom of a box.' Part celebration of both rustic and urban France, part memoir, Thorpe's humorous and precise prose shows a wonderful stylist at work, recalling classics such as Robert Louis Stevenson's Travels with a Donkey in the Cevennes.
Review: A marvellously astute, wry and affectionate account of France and the French - mercifully free of whimsy - and, moreover, written in pitch-perfect English prose. A delight. * William Boyd * Part history and part memoir, Notes from the Cevennes is a marvellous evocation of the forgotten Languedoc, and an affectionate portrait of a country and a people. * Sigrid Rausing, Editor of Granta * Thorpe continues ... quietly wonderful. Though (and perhaps because) Thorpe lives in France, he is alert to every English linguistic twitch, every slippery folk-meme. He's a writer's writer. * Hilary Mantel (on Thorpe's novel Missing Fay; TLS Books of the Year, 2017) * A powerful story of cooperation and conflict, both between ourselves and Nature. Living in two places, the ancient pastoral retreat of the Cevennes, and the Roman cosmopolitanism of Nimes, Adam has all the gifts of novelist, correspondent, historian and poet. * Colin Greenwood, Radiohead *
Author Biography: Adam Thorpe is a bestselling novelist, non-fiction writer and poet. His recent book On Silbury Hill (2014) was Radio 4's Book of the Week and received wide praise. He has published many novels, including Ulverton (1992), now a Vintage Classic, and numerous collections of poetry. Adam was born in France, brought up in India, Cameroon and England and now lives in southern France, between the Cevennes and Nimes.