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Letters from My Windmill
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Letters from My Windmill

3.71  ·  Rating details ·  4,926 ratings  ·  138 reviews
Alphonse Daudet's novels established him as the most successful writer in France by the end of the XIX century; but it was the LETTERS, first published in book form in 1869, which remained his favourite creation and has proved his most lasting.

Throughout his working life in Paris Daudet never lost his almost umbilical attachment to Provence. These tales of that region are
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Paperback, first paperback edition of this tranlation, 224 pages
Published June 29th 1978 by Penguin Classics (first published 1869)
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Anastasia Fitzgerald-Beaumont

There are places I like to revisit. There are books I like to revisit also, rich with the memory of past places. I first read the wholly delightful Letters from my Windmill by Alphonse Daudet when I was on holiday with my parents in Provence, in Avignon, to be exact. It was from there, the city of the popes, that we explored the surrounding countryside; from there we discovered the charm and magic of this special part of La France profonde – deep France.

I’ve also managed to recapture the time
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Jim
Apr 22, 2010 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 19th-century-lit
Letters from My Windmill is a bit of a misnomer, as letters are not involved. What Daudet gives us, instead, is a series of short sketches mostly set in Provence around Arles, though there are a couple set in Algeria. Some of the sketches are obviously contemporary, while others are set in the Middle Ages or the 17th century.

It is interesting to see Daudet refer to characters from novels by his contemporaries. One essay addresses Pierre Gringoire, the poet from Victor Hugo's Notre Dame de Paris
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Raul Bimenyimana
Read this in French, to help me with learning the language and getting to a better level than the one I"m currently in. Good anecdotes related to country life with bits of advice here and there. Wish I could trust my French in such a way that I could write parts of this review in French.
Jane
Jul 27, 2015 rated it really liked it
I am given to understand that Alphonse Daudet's novels established him as the most successful writer in France by the end of the 19th century, and yet I must confess that I hadn't heard of him until a few weeks ago, when I spotted this book.

I loved the title, and the premise intrigued me.

The book began with an extract from a bill of sale:

"To Mr Alphonse Daudet, poet, living in Paris, here present and accepting it:

A windmill and flourmill, located in the Rhône valley, in the heart of Provence,

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Brian
Aug 04, 2009 rated it really liked it
Shelves: read-2009
Reading this book is like taking a little vacation in southern France in the mid 1800's. Not a bad place or time to be. Daudet had the ability to make the countryside come alive in his pages. His descriptions of the environment and his surroundings were beautifully rendered. This is a book of observations, folk tales, daily comings and goings as told from his windmill.

If you have ever passed the night in the open under the stars, you will know that while we are sleeping a mysterious world
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Caroline
Whimsical stories and legends set in Provence, supposedly related by the denizen of a windmill no longer used to grind wheat; in fact one of the stories is about how the coming of the steam-driven mill drove the windmills out of business and left the village in a pitiful state. The French and English are en-face, in fact it is one of a series intended for long-ago students of French to brush up their skills, which is perfect as I am Paris-bound next month.

So I read it in French, with the
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Mike
Jan 14, 2016 rated it liked it
Shelves: books-owned
Daudet, known as "the Dickens of France," was on par with Flaubert in his time, but has since fallen off the radar outside France. My interest in his writing stems from Zola and James, both of whom claimed him as a favorite writer. This collection of melancholy, pastoral tales of the Provence region of France has a promising concept: our narrator takes up residence in a small, dilapidated windmill, from which he writes tales, responds to letters, and relates local legends, always making a stark ...more
Arcadius
Oct 16, 2011 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: a-classics

Once among France's leading literary lights, Daudet is largely forgotten today. This collection of stories and sketches, almost all set in Provence or neighbouring territories, contains nothing very earth-shattering, but it is an easy read, big on charm and local colour, and the illustrations by Edward Ardizzone in this edition make a nice bonus. The distinctive culture of Languedoc (as opposed to France) was still just alive at the time Daudet was writing, as we can glimpse from time in stories
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Alik
Feb 14, 2010 rated it really liked it
Goodness may be extremely irritating in a book. In this book the effect is somehow minimized. Read it in Russian.
Sophiebird
Aug 15, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: lovers of the peace and tranquility rarely found today
I read this as a download from prusing Gutenberg, not sure why exactly. The letters as it seems are pretty much letters to the reader of memorable happenings,mostly short musings of bits of daily life in Provence, no major drama or such, but so refreshing to pick up for a quick de-stressor and be transported to another time and another mentality. The descriptions of the countryside completely place you there without a lot of wordy fluff - no bejeweled carpet, or such.

"Come January, thousands of
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Frumenty
Dec 24, 2013 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I'm a little at a loss to explain why anyone bothers to read this book any more. Maybe there are cultural factors at work that I'm not aware of. Daudet appears to have written this book in much the same way I sometimes read the less engaging books that I embark on. He begins with flourish, then quickly runs out of enthusiasm (and ideas); from the fact that he sets off on a quite different tack I infer that he has picked it up after a longish hiatus; then another hiatus is apparent since he gets ...more
Harperac
Nov 06, 2013 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: victorian, france
This was a cute but not entirely substantial book I picked up somewhere. In the dollar bin of my local bookstore, not knowing anything about the book, I liked the Van Gogh on the cover...

Daudet is an excellent prose-poet. His descriptions of settings form the best parts of the book, and some of the chapters like "oranges" or "at Camargue" are devoted almost completely to this. He's luxurious, piling adjective upon adjective, detail on detail. Unfortunately, when he ventures towards narrative, he
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Jeslyn
Mar 04, 2010 rated it it was amazing
Daudet's collection of short stories depicting Provencal life is enthralling (I can't figure out how to add the correct "c" for "Provencal" - my apologies!) - this is one of the first times I've really been struck by the art of translation, and it is gorgeously done here. Though each story is quite short, they truly transport the reader to Daudet's world, whether salty sea spray, orange groves, brandied cherries, or windswept fields, these stories are a sensory delight. The Christmas dinner ...more
Janith Pathirage
Jul 04, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
It's not one of the greatest books I've read, the story is very modest and simple but reading few pages of it can bring you back in the mood no matter how bad the day is. I felt it in every single page.. and I would give anything to live in that mill !. Surrounded by pine woods, fresh air , bird songs ... what more can someone wish for !. (Just got an idea what I should ask from Santa for this Christmas :D ). Alphonse Daudet's writing style is quite unique, it reminds me of 'The Decameron' a ...more
Czarny Pies
May 25, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Lovers of Provence
Recommended to Czarny by: Peter Mayle
Shelves: french-lit
My French side of me adores this delightful little collection of tales. However, it is not easy to explain its charms to the Anglophone world. Alphonse Daudet and his father Lucien were both fast friends of Marcel Proust so the work provides the reader with a taste of the conversation at the salons of Mme. Guermantes. Catholic readers are sure to love the story 'Three Low Masses' which is also my favorite.

The collection also contains L'Arlesienne that inspired the orchestral suite by Bizet and
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Will
May 27, 2015 rated it really liked it
This is a series of short vignettes mostly describing provincial (of the Provence region) life in France. The stories are based on both Daudet's own experiences and local folktales. Daudet was born in Provence but later settled in Paris. Letters From My Windmill was written for a Paris readership to expose them to the charms of country life.

While less culturally and socially relevant today, the book paints a nice picture of the French countryside. His characters and descriptions give the reader
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Maan Kawas
Dec 21, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A light-hearted book of Provençal stories by Alphonese Daudet that reflects the spirit of the French Provençal life. These short stories basically narrate funny and entertaining tales to the French reader, nevertheless many of these tales convey meanings and lessons, with universal implications. Two stories in particular I appreciated the most, namely, “The Pope’s Mule” and “Master-Miller Cornilles’ Secret”, were addressing personal dignity and self-image. The translation is readable, smooth, ...more
Lisett
Jun 12, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition

This made me - rather intentionally by the author, no doubt - yearn for the fields of Provence, the trees and the mountains, the long rows of lavender and the thick midsummer heat.



Its strong sense of place almost transports you there physically - a trait that is common to some of my favourite "life abroad" books, notably Gerald Durrell's Corfu trilogy.



In addition, the stories themselves are beautiful in their simplicity, and seem like they would hold up well to a reread.



Overall, loved it &

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Faith Weldon
Jan 01, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Alphonse Daudet was a writer originally from Paris who spent time in Provence. He rented an old, converted windmill (un moulin) and lived there while writing stories to send to his editors in the capital. I enjoyed the various tales he told of life in Provence and the characters who lived there. He even included a couple of stories about a short trip to Morocco, which goes to show today's reader that human nature doesn't change much over the years. People enjoy experiencing a different culture ...more
Kitty
Oct 08, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Ah... chaque fois que je vais en Provence, j'ai envie de le re-lire! Cher Bruno, merci de nous avoir donné ce livre -- surement, on en avait parlé, mais j'oublie le contexte.

So, dear English-speaking francophiles... do learn enough French to enjoy this in the original. You will smell the lavender, rosemary, taste the cheese the goats make-- except for Blanquette, listen to the old windmills at the foots of the Alpilles singing the old proverbs.

Re-read for the occasion of returning to Provence:
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Dodo
Jul 13, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A wonderful book, well worth reading and re-reading and translating.
It is more than just interesting; it is pure and kind-hearted, which is more than could be said of many a book, even most popular bestsellers.
I prefer the funny stories, like Les Trois Messes basses or L’Élixir du révérend père Gaucher, but the sad ones are good as well.
And don`t try to tell me the book is obsolete. Books like that might be moss-grown, but they cannot be outdated. This kind of timeless moss is wholesome, you
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ren
May 20, 2014 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I think Alphonse Daudet was a good writer, but too much of his writing tires me out. I had to skip several parts in this novel because it got, well not exactly repetitive, but boring and no matter how great of a writer he was I couldn't keep on reading a beautifully written book with a mediocre plot. When I was done with it I was just glad that the book was finally over. It was interesting and very intriguing at first but then the appeal just slowly faded as I continued.
Wreade1872
A writer gets away from the bustle of Paris and stays in an old mill to do some work. This is a sequence of short stories, actually calling them stories doesn't feel accurate, tableau's might be a better description.
Each piece paints a little picture of life. Many are quite cheery although it does get dark in places. Its really quite good and the writing can be quite beautiful. Towards the end however things become a bit political and historical and its not quite as much fun.
Yahya
Sep 15, 2016 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
What a wonderful trip with Daudet from France especially from Provence to Algeria and back to France.. The most stories/letters I love is "Le portfeuille de Bixiou" and "La legende de l'homme a la cervelle d'or" .. And I found out the origin of some things that my culture use but I didn't know from where they are.
Pedja
Jul 01, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition

The travelogue is OK; I'll be rereading the chapter on the cowboys of the Camargue as the Tour passes through the south. The short stories are absolutely fantastic, in a way almost alien to US moral scope. Best Halloween story ever (yes, I know it's really set at Christmas).
Patricia Ll. R.
May 16, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Typical book you read for school, ECS! not bad at all, in fact, when I read again some books I have readed without pleasure when I was younger I found them totally different, but Lettres de mon moulin is really difficult to understand.
Eska
Mar 24, 2014 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I was bored throughout the entire thing. I can definitely see it's charm, but it wasn't for me. Reading it in the original French was also really tough, much harder than reading the Stranger. Good for the experience, but the stories? Meh.
Carolyn
Oct 11, 2013 rated it did not like it
Daudet casts a pleasant and tender aura over his beloved countryside. However, his pastorals wax bland. I found myself nodding off, to some extent, in the directionless nature of a few of these tales.
Anny
Aug 15, 2012 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I was reading it in estonian language
Stephen
Jul 23, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A House of Our Own. July 2012
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Bouquins en Francais: French Classics 5 45 May 25, 2013 11:38AM  

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Alphonse Daudet (13 May 1840 – 16 December 1897) was a French novelist. He was the younger brother of Ernest Daudet. He was married to Julia Daudet and the father of Léon Daudet, Lucien Daudet and Edmée Daudet, all writers.

Aphonse Daudet was born in Nîmes, France. His family, on both sides, belonged to the bourgeoisie. The father, Vincent Daudet, was a silk manufacturer — a man dogged through life
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“Et comme j’essayais de lui expliquer ce que c’était que ces mariages, je sentis quelque chose de frais et de fin peser légèrement sur mon épaule. C’était sa tête alourdie de sommeil qui s’appuyait contre moi avec un joli froissement de rubans, de dentelles et de cheveux ondés. Elle resta ainsi sans bouger jusqu’au moment où les astres du ciel pâlirent, effacés par le jour qui montait. Moi, je la regardais dormir, un peu troublé au fond de mon être, mais saintement protégé par cette claire nuit qui ne m’a jamais donné que de belles pensées. Autour de nous, les étoiles continuaient leur marche silencieuse, dociles comme un grand troupeau ; et par moments je me figurais qu’une de ces étoiles, la plus fine, la plus brillante ayant perdu sa route, était venue se poser sur mon épaule pour dormir..” 7 likes
“Mais oui, maîtresse... Tenez ! juste au-dessus de nous, voilà le Chemin de saint Jacques (la Voie lactée). Il va de France droit sur l’Espagne. C’est saint Jacques de Galice qui l’a tracé pour montrer sa route au brave Charlemagne lorsqu’il faisait la guerre aux Sarrasins. Plus loin, vous avez le Char des Ames (la Grande Ourse) avec ses quatre essieux resplendissants. Les trois étoiles qui vont devant sont les Trois Bêtes, et cette toute petite contre la troisième c’est le Charretier. Voyez-vous tout autour cette pluie d’étoiles qui tombent ? Ce sont les âmes dont le bon Dieu ne veut pas chez lui... Un peu plus bas, voici le Râteau ou les Trois Rois (Orion). C’est ce qui nous sert d’horloge, à nous autres. Rien qu’en les regardant, je sais maintenant qu’il est minuit passé. Un peu plus bas, toujours vers le midi, brille Jean de Milan, le flambeau des astres (Sirius). Sur cette étoile-là, voici ce que les bergers racontent. Il paraît qu’une nuit Jean de Milan, avec les Trois Rois et la Poussinière (la Pléiade), furent invités à la noce d’une étoile de leurs amies. Poussinière, plus pressée, partit, dit-on, la première, et prit le chemin haut. Regardez-la, là-haut, tout au fond du ciel. Les Trois Rois coupèrent plus bas et la rattrapèrent ; mais ce paresseux de Jean de Milan, qui avait dormi trop tard, resta tout à fait derrière, et furieux, pour les arrêter, leur jeta son bâton. C’est pourquoi les Trois Rois s’appellent aussi le Bâton de Jean de Milan... Mais la plus belle de toutes les étoiles, maîtresse, c’est la nôtre, c’est l’Etoile du Berger, qui nous éclaire à l’aube quand nous sortons le troupeau, et aussi le soir quand nous le rentrons. Nous la nommons encore Maguelonne, la belle Maguelonne qui court après Pierre de Provence (Saturne) et se marie avec lui tous les sept ans” 2 likes
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