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The Oysters of Locmariaquer

3.45 of 5 stars 3.45  ·  rating details  ·  71 ratings  ·  23 reviews
On the northwest coast of France, just around the corner from the English Channel, is the little town of Locmariaquer (pronounced "loc-maria-care"). The inhabitants of this town have a special relationship to the world, for it is their efforts that maintain the supply of the famous Belon oysters, called les plates ("the flat ones"). A vivid account of the cultivation of Be ...more
Paperback, 240 pages
Published May 9th 2006 by Harper Perennial Modern Classics (first published 1964)
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Aaron Kent
This book is the OG of "history of a food" books (I think Mark Kurlansky even writes the preface). I learned a great deal from this book, and I really would love to proclaim my love for it, but it just doesn't seem to be the case. What gives? Eleanor Clark is a sparklingly beautiful woman of the mid twentieth century; whip smart, inquisitive and with an amazing lust for life. She's done more than her homework on the subject and even inhabited one of the locales lovingly described in TOOL. For al ...more
B. Rule
Oh, how I wanted to like this book. It's a microhistory of a place, animal, and foodstuff that wears its literary pretensions on its sleeve, which all sounds wonderful. There are brief passages that are beautifully written and very evocative of the tiny area in Brittany that is the subject of the book. However, the bulk of the book is a mishmash of unfinished anecdotes, flip literary and historical allusions, arch half-jokes, and cruel excoriations of the Breton peasants Clark allegedly encounte ...more
Alisa
Believe it or not, I've finally finished this book! I began it in November of 2006 and, partly because it's nonfiction, read it in fits and spurts between then and now. Clark's writing is astonishing (every time I picked it up again, I was amazed to hear this woman from the 1950s still speaking loud and clear in her own voice) and she weaves together the history of Breton with the life cycle of the delicious Belon oyster (les plates)
Carol Harrison
The idea of the book sounded promising: a glimpse of the life of a small village in Brittany and the importance of oysters to that life. I made it almost through the whole book, but just couldn't handle another chapter's worth of digressions and ramblings. It isn't that I don't enjoy the occasional ramble, and I'm sure the author must have been a most interesting person to talk to, but these ramblings all too often seemed to say to me, "Look how much I know about obscure topics--I'm sure you mu ...more
Peggy
A little more information about the history, mystery, farming, harvesting, growing, range of, names of, etc. information about oysters than I was really expecting.
There are amusing and sometimes hilarious brief stories interwoven, along w myths, obvious lies, and folk tales...I just wish there had been MORE of THOSE and quite a bit LESS of the pedantic stuff.
But you know, even the pedantic stuff was quite readable, often amusing, frequently presented w tongue-firmly-in-cheek, such as this gem:
"I
...more
Elizabeth Quinn
An odd but charming little book which won the National Book Award in 1965. Clark's book is an elegy for the Belon oyster of Brittany, facing extinction along with traditional lifeway of the rural, impoverished Bretons who once nurtured the prized delicacy. Part travelogue and part treatise on the oyster, Clark's book in no way resembles similar works being penned today. There is little reportage -- no interviews with experts, no marshaling of facts and figures, no reader-friendly overviews. Read ...more
Ronald Wise
The sometimes humorous account of the European flat oyster (Ostrea edulis) and its cultivation in the Gulf of Morbihan at Locmariaquer in the Bretagne region of France. A charming combination of fact and myth regarding the Bretons, sealife, and megalithic monuments found there. The tasty Ostrea edulis, once plentiful along the coasts of Europe, was an early example of human-generated distruction through over-exploitation, pollution, habitat destruction, and the commercially-motivated introductio ...more
Jim Booth
"Anyone who reads Eleanor Clark's classic The Oysters of Locmariaquer will come away from the book convinced of two things: 1) cultivating oysters is a complex and difficult task that might well suck the life out of one foolish enough to try to do so; 2) if the people from any place are up to the task of cultivating oysters, it is the Bretons."

See the entire review at www.thenewsoutherngentleman.wordpress... - link available at my Goodreads author page. Thanks for stopping by!
Suzanne
This book was written in the early 1960's about a small town in France that revolved around the oyster industry. Interesting look into post-war rural France. The most interesting parts to me were about the local people, their lives, and their livelihood, and I would have liked a more sustained following of the individuals mentioned. Just when I got interested in one of them, the book took an extended foray into the history or science of oysters or the characters in Breton history or mythology. A ...more
Elizabeth
My bird club book club read this book thinking that it was about nature and oysters. We were uninformed. It's more a travelogue of Brittany in the 1960s. Nevertheless, after I finally adjusted to the stream of consciousness style,I enjoyed many parts of the book. Clark was a terrific wordsmith. I especially enjoyed her comments about the Breton saints. The book won a National Book Award.
Lucille
I read this book in preparation for a short vacation in Brittany and now I want to spend more time there, but in the past, because I have the sense that a lot has changed in the 50 years since Eleanor Clark lived among the Breton people. Her amazing research and often witty presentation of area's history, legends, magical saints, and community life almost convinced me that I have lived among the hard-working people of Locmariaquer. If you choose to read this, pay attention to the people she ment ...more
Linda
May 22, 2015 Linda is currently reading it  ·  review of another edition
Can't give this book a rating because I haven't been able to get into it yet. This might not be the book for me. I need a book to catch my interest in the first chapter.
Peggy
Engaging, very charming in places.
Quirky and incapable of being put into a strict category, I'd say.
I would have likes a little less science and a few more anecdotes.
Michelle
This random book was picked up off the shelf at SW Welch based solely on the strength of its author photo. But what a photo! The book turned out to be amazing, charming and very imaginative for a non-fiction book. I think I would have liked this woman.
If you are curious at all about oysters, their lives, and the people who cultivate them, surely this must be the book to fit the bill!
Suzanne Auckerman
Elizabeth gave me this book. It was fascinating, but a diffcult read as many French terms were used. I know enough French to get through most books, but oystering terms were beyond me. So once looking a lot of terms. This book was published in 1998 and it will be interesting to see what is going on there today as the industry seems very fragile.
Mark
An extraordinary book that finds the entire universe in an oyster shell. Suffused with a sense of the dignity of labor, the complexity of human relationships to each other and to a place, and the mysteries of the natural world, which science explains and explains and makes more mysterious than ever. Poetic and surprising. Highest possible recommendation.
Aaron
A good book, particularly if you like oysters. I'm not a huge fan, but I have a greater appreciation for them now and the Breton coast has always held an appeal. There's a bit of romance, even among the muck and labor of oystering. Parts of it were a bit of a slog, but the vignettes about the Bretons were interesting and appealing.
Mary
I learned a bit about the biology of oysters, and the ways of oyster people in France. It is surprising how much work goes into raising oysters. I thought you just hauled them in! I can't wait to eat some, now.
Jessica
Can't get interested, which is rare for me. Very heavy prose and not enough story. I read almost half and gave it up.
Kristina Gibson
Amazing writer. I know a heck of a lot about oysters now.
Tim
I'm in the mood for oysters.
Lu
Feb 22, 2010 Lu marked it as to-read  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: france
Oysters; French town
Patti
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Jun 11, 2015
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“You are eating the sea, that's it, only the sensation of a gulp of sea water has been wafted out of it by some sorcery, and you are on the verge of remembering you don't know what, mermaids or the sudden smell of
kelp on the ebb tide or a poem you read once, something connected
with the flavor of life itself...”
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“Obviously, if you don’t love life, you can’t enjoy an oyster.” 1 likes
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