Friday, July 22, 2016

Review: Finding Fontainebleau by Thad Carhart

There's something incredibly appealing about moving overseas for a time, isn't there? I have friends who have done it and my husband and I have discussed the possibility of us doing it as well, especially now that our kids are older. Moving with small children, which we've done, is a challenge and I can't imagine all of the logistics involved in doing it with a house full of young children. I can see how those children would have wonderful memories of having lived abroad and would potentially want to revisit the sites of their childhood in adulthood though. Thad Carhart's wonderful new memoir, Finding Fontainebleu, recalls the three years not long after WWII when he and his family moved to France for his father's job as a military attache at NATO headquarters as well as interesting tidbits of French history centered around the chateau of Fontainebleau, and his own visit, after moving back to France with his wife and young children, to the chateau as it underwent restoration.

Carhart's family moved to Fontainebleau, France in the 1950s when he was just starting school. He was the fourth of five children and he recounts his memories of the family's move and everyday life abroad. Even as a young child, he notices the differences between post-war France and the post-war US they've moved from. He details his daily life, his schooling, and what it was like to live in France as an American child. Woven in with these reminiscences, he recounts his visits to Fontainebleau as an adult where he is privileged to be taken inside the chateau beyond the areas open to tourists in order to see the restorations going on in this venerable once royal residence. He speaks with the chief of restorations and comes to appreciate the exactitude of the decisions made and the dilemmas presented by a chateau added to and changed by many different monarchs throughout the ages. As he describes the work on the chateau for the reader, he also has the opportunity to pass on fascinating pieces of French history and the royals, including several Louises and two Napoleons, who inhabited this wonderful, eccentric place.

The tone of the memoir is accessible and pleasing. Carhart pokes fun at the French and at his family in equal measure, with a fondness for both that definitely shines through. The three different pieces of the narrative weave together comfortably and without a hitch, each adding depth to the others. Carhart's memories are surprisingly full given his age when he lived in France but certainly some of the more unusual happenings were probably seared into his memory. This charming memoir is a warm and appealing read, especially for those who have a thing for France but it will be equally engaging for readers who enjoy reading a portrait of a different time and place. Wouldn't we all love to visit Carhart's Paris and his Fontainebleau?

For more information about Thad Carhart, check out his web page like his Facebook page or follow him on Twitter. Check out the book's Good Reads page, follow the rest of the blog tour, or look at the amazon reviews for others' thoughts and opinions on the book.

Thanks to Lisa from TLC Book Tours and the publisher for sending me a copy of this book to review.

1 comment:

  1. It is funny how memories of certain childhood events can be so vivid and others can simply fade away.

    Thanks for being a part of the tour!


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