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The House in France: A Memoir
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Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group 2011
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Set in Provence, London, and New York, this is a daughter's brilliant and witty memoir of her mother and stepfather—Dee Wells, the glamorous and rebellious American journalist, and A. J. Ayer, the celebrated and worldly Oxford philosopher—and the life they lived at the center of absolutely everything.
Gully Wells takes us into the heart of London's lively, liberated intellectual inner circle of the 1960s. Here are Alan Bennett, Isaiah Berlin, Iris Murdoch, Bertrand Russell, Jonathan Miller, Martin Amis, Christopher Hitchens, Robert Kennedy, and Claus von Bülow, and later in New York a completely different mix: Mayor John Lindsay, Mike Tyson, and lingerie king Fernando Sánchez. We meet Wells's adventurous mother, a television commentator earning a reputation for her outspoken style and progressive views, and her stepfather, an icon in the world of twentieth-century philosophy, proving himself as prodigious a womanizer as he is a thinker. Woven throughout is La Migoua, the old farmhouse in France, where evenings were spent cooking bouillabaisse with fish bought that morning in the market in Bandol, and afternoons included visits to M. F. K. Fisher's favorite café on the Cours Mirabeau in Aix, with a late-night stop at the bullfighters' bar in Arles. The house perched on a hill between Toulon and Marseille was where her parents and their friends came together every year, and where Gully herself learned some of the enduring lessons of a life well lived.

The House in France
is a spellbinding story with a luminous sense of place and a dazzling portrait of a woman who "caught the spirit of the sixties" and one of the most important intellectual figures of the twentieth century, drawn from the vivid memory of the child who adored them both.
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Format:
Adobe EPUB eBook, Kindle Book, OverDrive Read
Street Date:
06/21/2011
Language:
English
ISBN:
9780307596826
ASIN:
B004GB0NVK
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Citations
APA Citation (style guide)

Gully Wells. (2011). The House in France: A Memoir. Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group.

Chicago / Turabian - Author Date Citation (style guide)

Gully Wells. 2011. The House in France: A Memoir. Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group.

Chicago / Turabian - Humanities Citation (style guide)

Gully Wells, The House in France: A Memoir. Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group, 2011.

MLA Citation (style guide)

Gully Wells. The House in France: A Memoir. Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group, 2011. Web.

Note! Citation formats are based on standards as of July 2010. Citations contain only title, author, edition, publisher, and year published. Citations should be used as a guideline and should be double checked for accuracy.
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        Gully Wells was born in Paris, brought up in London, educated at Oxford, and moved to New York in 1979. She is a features editor at Condé Nast Traveler magazine. She lives in Brooklyn with her husband and children.

      • name: Gully Wells
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Knopf
publishDate
2011-06-21T00:00:00-04:00
isOwnedByCollections
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title
The House in France
fullDescription
Set in Provence, London, and New York, this is a daughter's brilliant and witty memoir of her mother and stepfather—Dee Wells, the glamorous and rebellious American journalist, and A. J. Ayer, the celebrated and worldly Oxford philosopher—and the life they lived at the center of absolutely everything.
Gully Wells takes us into the heart of London's lively, liberated intellectual inner circle of the 1960s. Here are Alan Bennett, Isaiah Berlin, Iris Murdoch, Bertrand Russell, Jonathan Miller, Martin Amis, Christopher Hitchens, Robert Kennedy, and Claus von Bülow, and later in New York a completely different mix: Mayor John Lindsay, Mike Tyson, and lingerie king Fernando Sánchez. We meet Wells's adventurous mother, a television commentator earning a reputation for her outspoken style and progressive views, and her stepfather, an icon in the world of twentieth-century philosophy, proving himself as prodigious a womanizer as he is a thinker. Woven throughout is La Migoua, the old farmhouse in France, where evenings were spent cooking bouillabaisse with fish bought that morning in the market in Bandol, and afternoons included visits to M. F. K. Fisher's favorite café on the Cours Mirabeau in Aix, with a late-night stop at the bullfighters' bar in Arles. The house perched on a hill between Toulon and Marseille was where her parents and their friends came together every year, and where Gully herself learned some of the enduring lessons of a life well lived.

The House in France
is a spellbinding story with a luminous sense of place and a dazzling portrait of a woman who "caught the spirit of the sixties" and one of the most important intellectual figures of the twentieth century, drawn from the vivid memory of the child who adored them both.
reviews
      • premium: True
      • source: Publisher's Weekly
      • content:

        March 7, 2011
        While the title of Wells's memoir suggests an homage to the country, the debut book by the features editor of Condé Nast Traveler is an engaging tribute to her mother, journalist Dee Wells, and her own peripatetic and privileged lifestyle as she was raised by London insiders (including her stepfather, philosopher A.J. "Freddie" Ayer) during the turbulent 1960s. Dee Wells bought "La Migou" in the south of France in 1962, and for Wells all roads lead back to her mother's summer cottage, which saw her family through a number of boyfriends, affairs, children, and deaths. Wells does an excellent job with her portrayal of her mother as a force to be reckoned with, and, despite her flaws, says she was "a mother who was more fun than anybody else on earth." Those familiar with the writings of Martin Amis, Harry Crosby, and Hugh Gaitskill will be pleased with this walk down memory lane.

      • premium: True
      • source: Kirkus
      • content:

        April 15, 2011

        Memoir of the author's mother and stepfather and the luminous social and intellectual circles in which they moved.

        Remembering her mother, American journalist Dee Wells, and stepfather, Oxford philosopher A.J. Ayer, Condé Nast Traveler features editor Wells flits from decade to decade and celebrity to celebrity without too great a concern for chronology. Dee Wells and Ayer were two of the original 20th-century bohemians/hippies/free spirits. Dee in particular was terribly gratified when the '60s finally caught up with their lifestyle. In her debut memoir, the author chronicles the many relationships—social and (mostly) sexual—of their set; the anecdotes are remarkable for their vivid attention to detail. All the tangential lives came together at La Migoua, the eponymous home which absorbed the characteristics of any and all who were welcomed there; the house reflected the spirit of Dee and her nonconformist outlook on life. The stories of Wells' mother and Ayer are a delight to read and revealing when dealing with the captivating personalities of their generation, which included, among many others, Christopher Hitchens, Alan Bennett, Bertrand Russell, Iris Murdoch and Martin Amis. However, the author's tendency to dwell on her own tiresome, personal tales, such as her quest to give up her virginity, slow the narrative and detract from the far more interesting story of Wells' parents and their friends.

        Too much teenage angst and not enough of the vibrant intellectual society that Wells illuminates in many of the chapters.

         

        (COPYRIGHT (2011) KIRKUS REVIEWS/NIELSEN BUSINESS MEDIA, INC. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.)

      • premium: True
      • source: Library Journal
      • content:

        May 1, 2011

        In spite of the title, this first book by Wells (features editor, Conde Nast Traveler) is not another memoir about one person's recent summers in France, but a writer's reminiscences of decades ago--spent mostly in London--with a month spent every summer in France. From 1962, when she was 11 years old, into her adulthood, Wells annually spent summers in Le Beausset, France, in a house owned by her mother, Dee Wells, an American journalist, writer, and socialite; and her stepfather, British philosopher A.J. "Freddie" Ayer. Readers might not be familiar with Dee Wells and Ayer, but they'll be able to place one of Gully's first boyfriends, Martin Amis, and appreciate many cameos--e.g., Bobby Kennedy, William F. Buckley Jr., Claude Levi-Strauss, Claus Von Bulow--who demonstrate the milieu in which the Wells/Ayer family moved. Gully describes her coming-of-age and her family, friends, and lovers honestly and entertainingly, with plenty of gossipy details. VERDICT Readers hoping for A Year in Provence will be disappointed, but if they persevere, they'll be pleased with this light, engaging literary memoir.--Heidi Senior, Univ. of Portland Lib., OR

        Copyright 2011 Library Journal, LLC Used with permission.

      • premium: True
      • source: Booklist
      • content:

        Starred review from May 15, 2011
        Wells had the perfect childhood for her vocation as travel writer and features editor of Cond' Nast Traveler and the good sense to enjoy it, even though her mother was as vexing as she was scintillating. Wells is a breathtakingly frank, nimbly hilarious, and sensuously precise memoirist and portraitist, capturing the chimerical energy of her famously sexy and outrageous Canadian American expat mother. Dee was a controversial journalist, critic, television personality, and novelist as well as a glamorous yet raucous partygoer and hostess. After divorcing her young daughters diplomat father, Dee moved to 1960s London and corralled the renowned Oxford philosopher and notorious womanizer A. J. Ayer into marriage. Clever and funny celebrities, the couple lived carousel lives (assiduously observed by young Gully) in London and their funky old house in Provence, until their love affairs pulled them apart. Wells remembers intoxicating conversations and outrageous behavior in scenes worthy of Oscar Wilde, featuring the likes of Bertrand Russell, Iris Murdoch, and John and Robert Kennedy. She tells her own fascinating story, too, including her long-ago on-and-off romance with Martin Amis. Desire and ambition, creativity and fame, betrayal and love, all take on new dimensions in Wells sparkling and spiky look back at protean and brilliant iconoclasts.(Reprinted with permission of Booklist, copyright 2011, American Library Association.)

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Set in Provence, London, and New York, this is a daughter's brilliant and witty memoir of her mother and stepfather—Dee Wells, the glamorous and rebellious American journalist, and A. J. Ayer, the celebrated and worldly Oxford philosopher—and the life they lived at the center of absolutely everything.
Gully Wells takes us into the heart of London's lively, liberated intellectual inner circle of the 1960s. Here are Alan Bennett, Isaiah Berlin, Iris Murdoch, Bertrand Russell, Jonathan Miller, Martin Amis, Christopher Hitchens, Robert Kennedy, and Claus von Bülow, and later in New York a completely different mix: Mayor John Lindsay, Mike Tyson, and lingerie king Fernando Sánchez. We meet Wells's adventurous mother, a television commentator earning a reputation for her outspoken style and progressive views, and her stepfather, an icon in the world of twentieth-century philosophy, proving himself as prodigious a womanizer as he is a thinker. Woven throughout is...
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