Advertise Now
Europe Attractions
Travel Companies
  Home > Europe News > Christine Conrad's Mademoiselle Benoir: A foreigner's life and love in a French village

Christine Conrad's Mademoiselle Benoir: A foreigner's life and love in a French village

January, 2005 — Tim Reinhart’s life changes the moment he purchases an old farmhouse in the country of France, region of Quercy, department of Lot, city of Cajarc, commune of St.-Jean d’Olt. This rural, completely un-touristy setting is the backdrop for the winter’s most unexpected love story, Mademoisele Benoir (Houghton Mifflin, January 4, 2006) by Christine Conrad.

It is impossible not to be enchanted by Tim’s descriptions of the Lot Valley: the rituals of food, the quirky neighbors (“right out of Balzac,” Tim’s mother says), and Mademoiselle Benoir, the beautiful, aristocratic French woman twenty years Tim’s senior.

Tim and Catherine Benoir form a close friendship based on their common appreciation for art, and over time this friendship grows into love. When they decide to marry, her family is outraged, his family is shocked, and the entire town is disrupted. Tradition and culture are at odds with love — and the artistic couple is right at the center of the maelstrom.

“Love is the ‘glue’ of life and its greatest mystery,” says Christine Conrad. She continues, “Who can say why we fall in love, or why we choose what to others can seem the most unlikely of mates?” Her characters Tim Reinhart and Catherine Benoir would certainly agree — despite the incendiary layers of emotional and cultural complexity that their love for each other and decision to marry has uncovered.

Conrad effectively transports the reader to the French countryside in her vivid description of the tastes, smells, and sights that Tim and his neighbors experience. Composed in epistolary style, the novel allows the reader to develop an intimate relationship with each of the characters as their emotions and intentions are revealed through letters. Mademoiselle Benoir is a delightful book that is both thoughtful and moving.

Back to Europe News

Europe Destinations
Europe News