Celestine: Voices from a French Village

On a visit to Chassignoles, a village south of the Loire in the Berry region of France, Gillian Tindall came across a small cache of letters, in various hands, dating from the second half of the 19th century. After deciphering their ‘very odd’ French, she discovered that all but one of them were letters of courtship addressed by a variety of suitors to Célestine, the daughter of the local innkeeper. Tindall uses these letters as the starting point for a meticulous recreation of life in the village during the years when its near-medieval isolation was being threatened and finally swept away by the levelling forces of modernity.

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