An American in Provence: Art, Life and Photography

Simon Element. Nov. 2022. 320p. ISBN 9781982186951. $40. TRAV
Photographer Beck transports readers to the Terre de Lumière, or Land of Light, as Provence is called by the French, in this beautiful light-filled book that celebrates the transformative power of the Provençal landscape, food, and culture. The author bought a one-way ticket to France after a frightening plane experience capped her deep dissatisfaction with her hectic Manhattan lifestyle. Determined to change and enjoy her life, she arrived and found that the restoration of her soul and creativity mirrored the seasons around her. Her miniscule knowledge of French forced her to explore the countryside, to interact with the locals in creative ways as her language skills blossomed, and to trust her instincts when cooking her own meals from scratch. The sections in this book are divided by the seasons and contain full-page, still life photographs reminiscent of Dutch realism paintings. Each section also contains short essays documenting her journey of self-discovery, and those are sprinkled with stylized self-portraits (some are based on famous paintings), dazzling landscape photographs, seasonal recipes and photography tutorials.
VERDICT An exquisite pictorial and travelogue that’s also part memoir and cookbook. It also contains a glossary of French words that many readers will find helpful.
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