• Various/Onna Carr

The Boss Dog: a Book in Review Part 1

This September, I read The Boss Dog by M.F.K. Fisher, and I found the book to be a fascinating look at Provencal France through the writer's use of vignettes, particularly of Aix and its people, and these vignettes were lovely indeed.

For example, Aix is described as, "One of the rare towns that improve. The more you know it, the better and finer and rarer and more satisfying it grows, like . . . people, wines, cheeses, and books. (Page 45) and its Cours Mirabeau is depicted as, "the most beautiful main street in the world. A great many people have said so, in prose and verse and even poetry, for hundreds of years, and have seldom been contradicted, except perhaps on the dueling field." (Page 13) .

I liked how the three travelers, a mother and her two young daughters, had a wonderful journey, "Most people who wander together have good things happen to them." (Page 1) . Also, I enjoyed that over the course of the small novel, the family went from being strangers to part of the community and at home in their new surroundings, "They felt at home, which is a fine way to feel in any country or language." (Page 6) . "I've always felt completely at home in this charming little old citadel,' Anne went on." (Page 111) . The author continues in the same vein as she describes a restaurateur and her friendliness toward the family, "She rushed toward them with a shriek of uncalculated friendship: they were, she was in the habit by now of reassuring her faithful customers, her foreigners. And the children liked her because she was so honest about it and about that one ear which apparently had a big bite or slice or hunk out of it, which she did not attempt to hide under her hair. (Page 77) . "'Gone, you can't go. You just came,' Madame said, looking sternly at them. 'You are my foreigners.'" (Page 110) .

I enjoyed how the book ended with fond memories of Aix as the travelers left, "and even the gay sound of the four dolphins and of all the other fountains splashing under the silken whisperings of the millions of plantain leaves in the golden air of Aix could not drown and cover the laughter of the three travelers who had stayed there as long as they could . . .." (Page 114) .

I found it interesting that, in real life, M.F.K. Fisher moved with her daughters from California to France, where they lived on-and-off for five years in Provence because of the quality of education, which went through until evening; but also, included a two-hour lunch break that she was able to share with her daughters. If you find the wonderful and it works, then stay with the wonderful!

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