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A Castle in the Backyard

In one of the most beautiful river valleys in Europe, in the region known as Perigord in southwest France, castles crown the hills, and the surrounding villages seem carved all of a piece out of the local stone. In 1985, in the shadow of one of these medieval castles, Betsy Draine and Michael Hinden fell in love with a small stone house that became their summer home.
Like any romance, this one has had its ups and downs, and Betsy and Michael chart its course in this delightful memoir. They offer an intimate glimpse of a region little known to Americans--the Dordogne valley, its castles and prehistoric art, its walking trails and earthy cuisine--and describe the charms and mishaps of setting up housekeeping thousands of miles from home.
Along with the region's terrain and culture, "A Castle in the Backyard introduces us to the people of Perigord--the castle's proprietor, the village children, the gossipy real-estate agent, the rascally mason, and the ninety-year-old widow with a tale of heartbreak. A celebration of a place and its people, the book also reflects on the future of historic Perigord as tourism and development pose a challenge to its graceful way of life.
Winner of the 2002 August Derleth Nonfiction Award, awarded by the Council for Wisconsin Writers
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About the Author

Betsy Draine and Michael Hinden are professors emeritus of English at the University of Wisconsin - Madison. In addition to their scholarly writing, they have translated and edited The Walnut Cookbook by Jean-Luc Toussaint.


Draine and Hinden (English, Univ. of Wisconsin, Madison) have charmingly recounted their past 15 summers establishing a summer home in the Dordogne valley in southwest France. With wonderful detail, they have created a colorful picture of their search for and purchase of an old stone house in the hilltop village of Castlenaud-la-Chapelle. Similar to Michael Korda's tale of relocation in Country Matters and Peter Mayle's best-selling A Year in Provence, this charming memoir brings to life the history, character, and beauty of the authors' new culture, their rural surroundings, and their quirky fellow villagers. The book includes a list of further readings for those interested in more information about the Dordogne valley, but after reading A Castle in the Backyard, you may not need the extra information it may feel as if you've already been to the south of Franceand loved it. Highly recommended for travel collections in all public libraries. Mari Flynn, Keystone Coll., La Plume, PA Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information.

"A charming account of village life in the Dordogne valley." - ForeWord magazine "Wonderful detail...Charming memoir...Highly recommended for travel collections in all public libraries." - Library Journal "Each detail of their account is a delicious morsel akin to the hearty fare served in every Perigord home and inn." - Booklist"

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