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Bettie's Books

A Stuga On the Cusp of the Orust Riviera, tucked away next to a hobbit hole in the woods.

The Price of Water in Finistère by Bodil Malmsten

The Price of Water In Finistère - Bodil Malmsten,  Frank Perry (Translator)

bookshelves: translation, sweden, france, paper-read, one-penny-wonder, nonfiction, published-2001, spring-2013, midlife-crisis, under-500-ratings, autobiography-memoir, gardening, history

Read from March 15 to 18, 2013


Description: 'In the same way as there's a partner for every person, there's a place. All you have to do is find the one that's yours among the billions that belong to someone else, you have to be awake, you have to choose.'

With this conviction in mind, acclaimed Swedish writer Bodil Malmsten abandons her native country at the age of fifty-five and settles in Brittany.

At the heart of this memoir is the conviction that the happiness to be found in Finistère will not allow itself to be, cannot be, expressed in writing. Embroidered around this seeming paradox are poignant, outraged and thought-provoking observations on the widest range of subjects: how not to buy plants, the elicit pleasures of bargain-hunting, the misery of writer's block, social democracy, racism, tulipomania, the stubbornness of bank managers, the controlling of moles and slugs, death, political hypocrisy, the delights of wild weather.

Malmsten's passion and humour shine through every episode she describes, however minor, offering the reader a window onto a solitary life at once touching, thought-provoking and, occasionally, hilarious.


Translated by Frank Perry.

Dedication: To my editor, Andrea Belloli

Opening: I'm in my garden in Finistère filling out change of address cards. It's an afternoon at the beginning of September 2000, a soft haze over the countryside. The Atlantic is breathing tides and seaweed, the reassuring sound of the warning bouy like an owl.

Finistère is the region furthest west in Brittany.

Self indulgent and at times a full-steam rant. High 2* rounded up.