Castle in the Backyard

Draine, Betsy, and Michael Hinden. Castle in the Backyard: the Dream of a House in France. Madison, WI: University of Wisconsin Press, 2006. eBook Collection (EBSCOhost) Web 7-30 April 2015.

Before my husband and I bought our house in 2009 we spent a lot of time watching first-time home-buying shows on HGTV and the DYI network. True, we were fascinated with the process but truthfully, we were more than a little scared we would look like idiots when it came our turn to make an offer someone couldn’t refuse. Realtor aside, we had no idea what we were getting ourselves into. We had every reason to be afraid. Buying your first home is not a simple process by any stretch of the imagination even with the careful guidance of books and an expert real estate agent by your side. So, having said all that, I can only imagine what Draine and Hinden were feeling when they decided to buy a summer home in rural southern France. As a couple who got married later in life they didn’t have the opportunity to do a lot of those typical “first-time” things together, like buying a home (she moved into his). Castle in the Backyard is the romantic story of how one vacation turned into an adventure in buying French real estate. Draine and Hinden took almost a year and looked at 40 different properties before stumbling on the perfect “birdcage” of a home in Sarlat in the shadow of a castle, of course. Their retelling of the process is nothing less than perfect; dare I say cute? Even the sex (yes, there is sex) between them is sweetly implied. I loved the layers of humor (the Pepto Bismol was one of my favorites) and the seamless way Draine and Hinden took turns telling the tale.

As an aside, closing a house for the winter in Sarlat sounds not unlike closing a house on Monhegan. Lots of steps!
Biggest trivial take-aways: there is a “giant” Ikea near the Bordeaux airport, Sarlat was the foie-gras capital of France in 1995 and Draine and Hinden lived in “walnut country”.

Reason(s) read: First, there is the fact that April is a great time to visit France. Second, one of my favorite songs is “April in Paris” and my favorite version was sung by Billie Holiday (who was born on April 7th).

Author(s) fact: Draine and Hinden lived in the shadow of the castle for nearly 20 years. That must have been a beautiful time.

Book trivia: I read this an an e-book. I hope I didn’t miss out on much by not having the print and paper book in hand.

BookLust Twist: from Book Lust To Go in the oddly named chapter “So We/I Bought (or Built) a House In…” (p 211).

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