Wednesday, March 16, 2016

M.F.K. Fisher: Map of Another Town and A Considerable Town

My biggest regret about reading Map of Another Town and A Considerable Town by M. F. K. Fisher is that I didn't discover her earlier.  She's one of those writers who feels like a friend.

M. F. K. Fisher

Born in 1908, she was one of the great food writers.  Compared with the other food writers I enjoy, she is more approachable than Elizabeth David, and more serious than Julia Child. She writes about her own foibles and struggles in an endearing way that makes you wish you could talk to her in person.


Map of Another Town is a memoir of her years living in Aix, Provence, as a single mother, during the fifties and sixties.  This book is no hilarious tale about buying a farmhouse like A Year in Provence.  Fisher simultaneously felt like an outsider, while also forging deep relationships with the Aix natives.  The people of the region were still reeling from the Nazi occupation and there are some heartbreaking incidents involving people who were so traumatized by the Germans that they can no longer function.


A Considerable Town is Fisher's memoir about Marseille, which she first visited as a young woman, and where she lived for a while after the time of Map of Another Town.  Of the two books, I prefer the first one, but A Considerable Town is still an interesting portrait of Marseille.  And now, of course, I really want to visit both Aix and Marseille.  Either of these books would be a good choice if you're into travel or memoirs.

13 comments:

  1. On topic about books, but not MFK Fisher--I'm just rereading the Cazalet Chronicles by Elizabeth Jane Howard. I know you like her. Five books of deliciousness!

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    1. Awesome! They are such good books. EJH is one of my favorite authors now.

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  2. I love memoirs! And food writing! Why have I not read her? I'll need to fix that.

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    1. Her first book, How to Cook a Wolf is in our public library's collection, although it is currently checked out. I also got these books at the library. They are included in one volume, but I can't remember what the title is.

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  3. Oh, following your blog and book choices will be MY RUIN. Of course I'll have to order these two now - good memoirs, food, France. May I humbly suggest you read Doris Lessings memoir Under My Skin and Walking in the Shade if you haven't already done so. Rhodesia, not so much food as booze. Horrifying, compelling, joyous, frantic.

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    1. I have never read those two books, but I did enjoy The Diaries of Jane Somers, which I believe she may have published under a pseudonym. I'll add these two to my list!

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  4. Ha! Found the one about Marseille in the main library here in Stockholm!

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  5. I love MFK Fisher but have never read these two. Thanks for the recommendation!

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  6. I loved both these books so much, and Aix, and Marseille. I'm aching pretty hard to go back. I have an old hardcover copy of How to Cook a Wolf. The table of contents are a scream: How to Be Sage without Hemlock, How to Catch the Wolf, How to Distribute Your Virtue, How to Boil Water, How to Greet the Spring, How to Not Boil an Egg, etc....Should I send it down?

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  7. ^ This is Danielle, btw, I can't remember my blogger sign-in haha

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  8. I only thought she wrote about food. What a cool thing to learn about this other book! We read a lot of WWII stuff in our book club (just happens--it's not planned) and we recently discussed how it would be cool to read a book about directly after and how people adjusted from war back to peace. I think you just recommended that read!

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  9. I recently borrowed a book of MFK Fisher essays and shorter works. I only got to read a few sentences (was heavily involved in other required reading) before I had to return it to the library. But those sentences were quite delicious! I hope I will be able to return to MFK. I'm attracted to reading about Provence, because I did a study-abroad there. It would be interesting to read about it from the perspective of someone much more observant than my young-adult self.

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