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Two Towns in Provence

3.92 of 5 stars 3.92  ·  rating details  ·  291 ratings  ·  26 reviews
This memoir of the French provincial capital of Aix-en-Provence is, as the author tells us, "my picture, my map, of a place and therefore of myself...just as much of its reality is based on my own shadows, my inventions." A vibrant and perceptive profile of the kinship between a person and a place.

A Considerable Town

M.F.K. Fisher scans the centuries to reveal the ancient s
ebook, 512 pages
Published September 14th 2011 by Vintage (first published 1964)
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It only took me 15 months to complete this lovely collection of (travel? life? food? philosophy? history?) of two short works detailing the time M.F.K. Fisher spent in Aix-in-Provence and Marseilles from the early 1930s to the mid 1970s. The amount that life changed over the course of the twentieth century is astounding, but in places as old as this (or, inhabited continuously as long as two or more millennia) there is much that stays the same. I love how opinionated and brave Fisher is. Life in ...more
I read this book during college when I was studying abroad in Provence. I fell in love with Fisher's writing and her ability to convey both emotionally and physically what it means to be a foreigner. I loved the book and am looking forward to reading it again. If you love food, or France, or just life in general than please read this book!
Beautifully written prose and thoughtfully constructed for a travel memoir, unlike many that are written today. I may be giving it more credit after having lived in Aix-en-Provence as an expat for several years; she was right on the mark and it was interesting to see how the town was during the 1950s and early 60s.
Beautiful! I read this on the airplane to and from Deutschland. I especially liked the one about Aix-en-Provence.
Goodreads has been bothering me to finish this book for over a year, so I am glad to finally get it finished. But I'm also glad because I really liked this.

The reason for the day is actually pretty easy to explain-- this book collects two separate manuscripts, one on Marseille and one on Provence. I read the shorter one, and was lukewarm enough about it to wait a year before diving into the second ms. But the thing is, the longer ms, the one I waited to read, is really great, and also points up
Bill Hammack
I found M.F.K. Fisher's Two Towns in Provence for a 50 cents at local library book sale. Her work had always been on my radar screen, but never really interested in her books focusing on cooking. I love travel writing, so this I tried this. This is two books combined: A Map of Another Town and A Considerable Town - the later about Marseilles. I had been to Marseilles and drawn exactly the conventional conclusions that she opens the book with: A port city that one should only pass through, a plac ...more
I was hoping that this book (really, two books) would be more like Peter Mayle's books, or like Under a Tuscan Sun, but it wasn't anything like. I enjoyed reading about Aix-en-Provence because I spent part of a summer there and loved the town, but the author was entirely too circumspect about the factors that were determining her comings and goings in France. Why were her daughters living apart from her during her first stay? She never explains. But at least the first book is a personal narrativ ...more
Margaret Pinard
Jul 31, 2007 Margaret Pinard rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: people with that love affair with france and things french
Shelves: on-travel
Even though parts were random and disconcerting, in general this book kept my attention with its stories of the author's wanderings with her children, encounters with French stereotypes, and musings on topics as diverse as history, sociology, and self-awareness. I especially liked how she compared the things she saw in Aix and Marseille at different times, since she visited them so often- 1929, 1950s, 1960s, 1970s. Very interesting, and made me want to go there even more!
Kathy  Petersen
Fisher is known best as a food writer. Maybe her food books are better, and maybe this unfinished rating is partly my fault. I was expecting a travel book about these two areas of France, not an introspective and self-focused section of a woman's life. It just couldn't capture enough of my interest to get through the second book (that is, the second town) included in this volume.
I finally finished this book. It has been a labor of love to finally finish this intrsopective on the areas on Aix-En-Provence and of Marseilles. Looking forward to having my own experiences there instead of reading about them. I am certain to visit the ancient destinations as well as enjoy the current dat vibrancy and food available much as is described in this book.
Erudite but ultimately self-absorbed: the lack of clear focus in these narratives leaves them wallowing a bit too much in Fisher's anomie. Still, not bad little sojourns to dip into now and again. Fisher is like a companion you grow fonder of the less frequently you see her.

Her culinary books sharpen her wit with more specific themes.

Another 4.5 stars. This is one of my reference books. I love her writing and this is about Aix and Marseille. I prefer the Aix but Marseille is seen in beautiful honesty. Also loved Long Ago in Dijon . . . the tone is like nothing I've read. I am almost scared to pick it up sometimes. I love Dijon.
Faith Justice
Trade paperback in very good condition. This was a gift from friends and read a couple of years ago. We traveled to Aix-en-Provence and Marseilles several years ago and enjoyed the book for the memories it evoked. Also loved Fisher's writing: descriptions, anecdotes. A mini-vacation!
Claire S
Hmm.. not sure this will fit given all the rest to read, unless I ever go to France again for instance, etc.. but in any case, here's a related link mentioned in Constant Reader:
In the midst of reading this now. I'm not particularly intrigued by it. It's very self-indulgent on her side, and I wonder what self-indulgence is involved in continually being too shy to interact with anyone.
Fisher's impressionistic style works well when she stays focused on food, but doesn't translate well to the memoir. In these writings she comes across as self-absorbed and effete.
Christina Sanantonio

Some lovely lines and wonderful descriptions. Interesting. Although sometimes her odd pronouncements about people lost me, she obviously had marvelous talent.
She was a wonderful wonderful writer, but a horrible novelist. Skip this and go to her memoirs (but read the recent biography to fill in her many many gaps)
I absolutely love the her writing ... I always feel as if I am right along side her. Her stories totally transport me to another place and time.
My first experience with MFK Fisher as an author. At first slow-moving, I came to enjoy Ms Fisher's style of storytelling.
Two books in one, I only read Map of Another Town. It was ok, a bit disjointed and I had no sense of her or what she was doing.
Having just been in one of these two towns, the writing is all the more vivid all these decades later
I think I need to have visited Provence to enjoy this book. Too bad I have to pay a library fine for it...
Map of Another Town, or Aix-in-Provence was 4 stars.
Feb 22, 2010 Lu marked it as to-read  ·  review of another edition
life after divorce; lots of food references
I have a life crush on the author
Jess marked it as to-read
Apr 22, 2015
LettheSea marked it as to-read
Apr 21, 2015
Katy is currently reading it
Apr 20, 2015
Kathy Sider
Kathy Sider marked it as to-read
Apr 15, 2015
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Mary Frances Kennedy Fisher was a prolific and well-respected writer, writing more than 20 books during her lifetime and also publishing two volumes of journals and correspondence shortly before her death in 1992. Her first book, Serve it Forth, was published in 1937. Her books deal primarily with food, considering it from many aspects: preparation, natural history, culture, and philosophy. Fisher ...more
More about M.F.K. Fisher...
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