When I first started reading Going Nowhere, I thought the title was appropriate, as the first half was an introduction to the French village of Lecul in the Lot district, a land that time, map-makers and tourist guides forgot. I’ve lived in very small towns, not in France, but much the same, where anyone who is not a fourth or fifth generation resident is an outsider, which is also true in this story.
A childless couple of English school teachers, Peter and Jennifer, get lost here, and on impulse after their fourth annual visit, decide to buy a quaint stone place and remodel it as a vacation home, a move that makes them feel less mundane and ordinary. They have various adventures as they try, mostly unsuccessfully, to fit in with the locals who good-naturedly take advantage of their lack of knowledge of French language, customs, and exchange rates. They have many adventures with country-style fun: a snail race, a billy-goat drinking contest, and a trip to watch cemetery swamp-gas lights.
Things speed up a bit when the French government re-discovers the village as a site for construction, a point that is kept secret from the English and other non-locals. But Peter and Jennifer are privy to a secret about the village as well, one they might share if they were in the loop. Tension ensues.
This is fun, if very leisurely, and has a number of author comments about both the foibles of the French and the English. The characters are drawn in broad strokes, as works best in comedy, and most of them are sympathetic, representative of types expected in any village.
The author, Roderick Craig Lowe, is familiar with the landscape of the village, having lived in France since 2003. His sense of humor is understated and subtle. The writing is enjoyable and perfect for a few relaxing afternoons.