In 2009, six years after her mother's death, Gully Wells returns to La Migoua, the house in Provence which belonged to her mother - the glamorous, funny, unpredictable and furiously rude American journalist, Dee Wells.
Surrounded by the clutter of decades, Gully is taken back to her childhood, to her mother, her adored stepfather - the celebrated, brilliant, womanising Oxford philosopher, A.
J. Ayer - and to the rich, sensual memories that the house evokes. Gully's beautiful, rebellious mother Dee fled Boston when she was seventeen to join the Canadian Army, where she became a Sergeant Major.
She married, had Gully, divorced and moved to London where she would meet, and fall madly in love with, the icon of logical positivism, Ayer, who she would later persuade to marry her.
There they lived in an extraordinary, liberated and intellectual world, with friends and acquaintances including Bobby Kennedy, Mary Quant, Iris Murdoch, Jonathan Miller, George Melly and Bertrand Russell. In the turbulent and vibrant milieu of sixties London, Gully develops from a cautious only child to a studious teenager.
She has a childhood infatuation with the aristocratic homosexual Michael Pitt-Rivers, loses her virginity to a Provencal hairdresser and wins a scholarship to St Hilda's at Oxford, where she blossoms, studies French history under Theodore Zeldin, and falls in love with fellow student, Martin Amis.
But as the affair ends, Gully moves on, explores love and travel, eventually settling down in New York.
La Migoua, perched on a hill above Bandol, halfway between Toulon and Marseilles, is inextricably woven into Gully's existence.
Unsentimental and gloriously witty, The House in France is a vivid and moving love letter to a beloved mother, and a celebration of family, of growing up and of the spirit of a cherished house.
- Format: Paperback
- Pages: 320 pages
- Publisher: Bloomsbury Publishing PLC
- Publication Date: 07/06/2012
- Category: Memoirs
- ISBN: 9781408822258
- Hardback from £12.95
- EPUB from £6.14