Considerable Town

Fisher, M.F.K. A Considerable Town. New York: Alfred A Knopf, 1978.

Reason read: Dual reasons: April is food month and Fisher is a food writer. Also, does anyone know the song, April in Paris? Need I say more?

The first thing you need to know about A Considerable Town is that it is not a travel or guide book. The first time Fisher visited Marseille the year was 1929. She is back again…only it’s 1976 (yes, you read that right). A Considerable Town was published in the same year but is full of observations of a city Fisher had obviously fallen in love with. Reading this in 2016, some sixty years later, felt a little dated and left me wondering how much, or how little, Marseille had changed in all that time. Fisher noted changes between her 1929 and 1976 visits.
The other thing you need to know about A Considerable Town is that Fisher takes you on a journey that is both thoughtful and thought-provoking. Her observations of people, places and events bring Marseille alive so much so that she accomplishes the opposite of a tour/guide book. Instead of preparing the reader to visit the region, she makes the reader feel as though he or she has already been there.
Probably the most touching part of A Considerable Town was towards the end when Fisher is trying to make her two young daughters feel at “home” in Marseille at Christmas time. Decorating the tree was especially poignant.

Quotes to quote, “During the market hours there, men sold their catches too, but it was the women who dominated, at least in decibels” (p 67), “Sobriety is a rare and dubious virtue, if that at all, with people under heavy stress like cabbies, cooks, and even politicians” (p 115) and “Every kitchen and winery has its own share of idiots, rascals and wretches” (p 120).

Author fact: Fisher spent some time at the University of Dijon in France.

Book trivia: A Considerable Town and Map of Another Town make up Two Towns in Provence. Don’t be disappointed but there are no pictures of Marseille in A Considerable Town.

BookLust Twist: from Book Lust To Go in the chapter called “Florence and the South of France” (p 187).

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