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M.F.K. Fisher's Provence

ISBN: 9781619025943 | 1619025949
Format: Hardcover
Publisher: Counterpoint
Pub. Date: 11/10/2015

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The book highlights her strong sense of place - Fisher’s Celtic eye for detail - with a comparison of Aix-en-Provence, a university town, the site of an international music festival and the former capital of Provence, and Marseille, the port town.

Fisher’s description of the sights and smells belonging to an Aix bakery shop window is her Platonic ideal of a bakery shop to be found anywhere in France, for example, with its “delicately layered” scents of “fresh eggs, fresh sweet butter, grated butter, vanilla beans, old kirsch and newly ground almonds.”

Then, there is her portrayal of the sounds of Aix’s fountains mixed with the music of Mozart during the town’s festival, leaving her bedazzled. She would return again and again to stroll the narrow streets of Aix with two young daughters who “seemed to grow like water-flowers under the greening buds of the plane trees.”

It is the quality of Fisher’s writing that inspired photographer Aileen Ah-Tye to look for her Provence. In a letter to Fisher, Aileen would report back from Marseille: “The eels and the prickly rascasse were exotique to my San Francisco eyes, the smells as pungent as you can get, and . . . miracle of all miracles . . . the men and women on the docks were exactly as you described them.”

Thus, began a collaboration that illustrates Fisher’s passion for life and all its sensual pleasures that nourish the soul.


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