The Trees and a Truffle Dog
Sniffing Out the Perfect Plot in Provence
by Jamie Ivey
2 stars - just don't like the guy
ALR Green - there's a dog in the book, but doesn't qualify as a dog book
I'm just going to quote from the dust jacket.
The plot of land was perfect, just what they'd been looking for, offering expansive views across the valley and within walking distance of the local village There was only one small problem: there was no house.
But Mr. Ivey and his wife didn't let that stop them and they set out to build their dream home on a plot of land in France. A plot that holds the promise of truffles (provided they could train a dog to locate the bloody things).
Seriously, this sounded like my cup of tea and it started off OK. We learn that Mr. Ivey and his wife are wine merchants who have relocated from England to France and dream of owning their own property.
But here's the deal. Something kind of irked me about Mr. Ivey's attitude. It wasn't until page 196 that he provided me with a quote which finally gave voice to what was rubbing me the wrong way.
There is an etiquette to supermarket shopping the world over. Everybody enters, trolley empty, list in hand, hoping to whizz in and out as quickly as possible, praying they don't meet anyone they know. The bright lighting, the claustrophobic aisles, the chill of the freezer cabinets and the mind-numbing wait at the checkout combine to create an unpleasant experience. The shorter it has to be endured, the better.
Speak for yourself. If only he had taken the time to put that sentiment in the first person. As in "I don't like the supermarket." He goes on to tell us that what annoys him is that the people in the tightly knit community he has chosen to make his home actually want to pass pleasantries with him when they meet at the market and that apparently annoys him to no end. I'm not passing judgement on either the chatters or the speed shoppers, but don't be all lumping everybody into your view of the world.
And then I realized what had been nagging me from the start. Mr. Ivey chooses to locate his family in the French countryside, but throughout the reader gets the impression that he's scoffing at the very culture he claims to embrace.
Of course he also poked at one of my sensitive spots with his endless discussion of "helpless land owner v. manipulative builders." None of the people in the book (including his wife and child) have much dimension at all. It's all about him.
What of the dog? He does buy a dog to assist him in locating truffles. In fact he buys a well bred dog from a good breeder (but paints the breeder as a total whack-a-do). Seems like the dog is happy, so there's that.
I suspect we are all supposed to chuckle along at the colorful characters, but I wasn't amused. They weren't people, they were cartoons.
Now then, this is the sixth book in the stack of twelve that I ordered from Bas Bleu on the promise that they were sending me a "top-notch mix of fiction and nonfiction, sure to please all kinds of bookworms." Honestly, I am tempted to drop the remaining six at the library without cracking them open because contrary to the alleged "mix" the books thus far have been painfully similar in style and subject matter. I believe out of the six, I enjoyed one, managed to work my way through two and had to drop the other three out of boredom. Heck, even the stuffy old Pulitzer Prize committee has a better track record choosing books I might like.