Wednesday, 11 March 2020

The Chaumussay Book Club


The Chaumussay book club is not a group of women who each read the same book and meet once a month to discuss it. Instead it is really a community library set up and run by local residents where you can go to borrow books (in French and in English) and hang out with friends while working on a jigsaw.

The book club was started by Maude some years ago. There are now hundreds of books available and they are stored in the former primary school, behind the church in this very small village. The books are organised according to language, author and theme. There are both fiction and non-fiction. All the books are donated, and anyone can turn up, borrow a book and stay for a chat or a cup of coffee. It is all completely informal, with no strict rules or regulations. Books must be signed out so they can keep track of them, and that's about it. Otherwise it is about friendship, companionship, sociability and sharing.

Maude (left foreground), Jane (fourth from left, in plaid shirt), and Marc (on right).
Gathering at a community library.  Indre et Loire, France. Photographed by Susan Walter. Tour the Loire Valley with a classic car and a private guide.

Maude's right hand woman, managing the English language section, is American born Jane. She's not the only American who attends either. Recently I met Laura, who tells me she started going just to borrow books, and started staying to sit with those doing jigsaw puzzles, chatting and playing games.

I ran into Jane ages ago at the blood test clinic and she encouraged me to come and see what they do, but it wasn't until Laura reminded me about the group that I did anything about it. I wanted to get myself into the habit of reading for an hour a day in French to improve my language skills in preparation for applying for French nationality and thought this would be a great way of finding some good books. Instead of just randomly choosing something from the public library shelves, at Chaumussay I can talk to others and find out what they recommend and liked.

Doing a jigsaw at a community library.  Indre et Loire, France. Photographed by Susan Walter. Tour the Loire Valley with a classic car and a private guide.

The first book I'm tackling, based on Jane's suggestion, is Les Noëls Blanc by Christian Signol. It's the first part of a family saga, based in the Corrèze and chronicling the lives of the Barthélémy family from 1900 to 2000. It is exactly the right level of French for me so I'm happy to be getting on well with it. I just have to be disciplined enough to put the time aside to read each day. It's still a bit of a chore, not the completely relaxed and natural process that it would be in English.

The book club is open every Saturday afternoon so check it out if you would like to borrow a book or help with a challenging jigsaw. Just turn up -- you will be made welcome. 

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6 comments:

Aussie in France said...

What a wonderful idea!

chm said...

La vie en milieu rural est tellement plus conviviale que celle des grandes villes!

sillygirl said...

You would have me there every day with the jigsaw puzzle!

Susan said...

Yes. I've never heard anyone who attends say anything but positive things.

Susan said...

I don't know that is necessarily true -- there are lots of clubs everywhere.

Susan said...

I like a bit of jigsawing now and then too.

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