“While bringing alive this redolent Gallic chapter of his boyhood (baguettes from the boulangerie; inkwells and laborious handwriting exercises at school), Mr. Carhart also resurrects the mood and mores of a particular window in time: the 1950s of Ike and Elvis’s America, and postwar France. . . . Like the castle, his memoir imaginatively and smoothly integrates multiple influences, styles and whims.”–The New York Times
For a young American boy in the 1950s, Fontainebleau was a sight both strange and majestic, home to a continual series of adventures: a different language to learn, weekend visits to nearby Paris, family road trips to Spain and Italy. Then there was the chateau itself: a sprawling palace once the residence of kings, its grounds the perfect place to play hide-and-seek. The curiosities of the small town and the time with his family as expats left such an impression on him that thirty years later Carhart returned to France with his wife to raise their two children. Touring Fontainebleau again as an adult, he began to appreciate its influence on French style, taste, art, and architecture. Each trip to Fontainebleau introduces him to entirely new aspects of the chateau’s history, enriching his memories and leading him to Patrick Ponsot, the head of the chateau’s restoration, who becomes Carhart’s guide to the hidden Fontainebleau.
What emerges is an intimate chronicle of a time and place few have experienced. In warm, precise prose, Carhart reconstructs the wonders of his childhood as an American in postwar France, attending French schools with his brothers and sisters. His firsthand account brings to life nothing less than France in the 1950s, from the parks and museums of Paris to the rigors of French schooling to the vast chateau of Fontainebleau and its village, built, piece by piece, over many centuries. Finding Fontainebleau is for those captivated by the French way of life, for armchair travelers, and for anyone who has ever fallen in love with a place they want to visit over and over again.
The son of an air force officer, Thad Carhart grew up in a variety of places, including Washington, D.C.; Fontainebleau, France; Minneapolis; Amherst, Massachusetts; and Tokyo. After graduating from Yale, he worked for the State Department as an interpreter. He is also the author of The Piano Shop on the Left Bank and Across the Endless River, a historical novel. He lives in Paris.