100 books like A Gift from Brittany

By Marjorie Price,

Here are 100 books that A Gift from Brittany fans have personally recommended if you like A Gift from Brittany. Shepherd is a community of 10,000+ authors and super readers sharing their favorite books with the world.

Shepherd is reader supported. When you buy books, we may earn an affiliate commission.

Book cover of Fields of Glory: A Novel Fields of Glory

Mark Greenside Author Of (Not Quite) Mastering the Art of French Living

From my list on the magic of Brittany France.

Why am I passionate about this?

Mark Greenside has been a civil rights activist, Vietnam War protestor, anti-draft counselor, Vista Volunteer, union leader, and college professor. He holds B.S. and M.A. degrees from the University of Wisconsin and his stories have appeared in numerous journals and magazines. He presently lives in Alameda, California, where he continues to teach and be politically active, and Brittany, France, where he still can’t do anything without asking for help.

Mark's book list on the magic of Brittany France

Mark Greenside Why did Mark love this book?

This is the first book of a fictionalized family history, starting with the omniscient narrator’s maternal grandparents and paternal aunt, who are all born in the late 1880s: the World War I generation. The story takes place near Nantes, which until 1956 was part of Brittany, but then was administratively moved to a new department, the Loire Atlantic—though most people in Nantes and Brittany continue to believe the Nantois are Breton. As with many things French, the issue is far from settled.

Rouaud creates character through vignettes—and they’re wonderful: grandpa smoking; grandpa driving; grandma complaining about grandpa smoking and driving; their car—the infamous, uncomfortable, 2CV, deux chevaux—in the rain, the wind, on hills, having to wipe the windshield by hand to see, clearing grandma’s side, not grandpa’s, whose vision is blocked by pouring rain, streaking mud, and cigarette smoke. The rain leaks through the windows, the vents, and canvas roof.…

By Jean Rouaud,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Fields of Glory as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Through a family chronicle - some three generations of a middle-class family living on the French Atlantic coast - Rouaud evokes the lingering heartache of a whole nation: the period is the interval between the two wars, but the slaughter of World War I dominates. Winner of the Prix Goncourt.


Book cover of The Price of Water in Finistère

Mark Greenside Author Of (Not Quite) Mastering the Art of French Living

From my list on the magic of Brittany France.

Why am I passionate about this?

Mark Greenside has been a civil rights activist, Vietnam War protestor, anti-draft counselor, Vista Volunteer, union leader, and college professor. He holds B.S. and M.A. degrees from the University of Wisconsin and his stories have appeared in numerous journals and magazines. He presently lives in Alameda, California, where he continues to teach and be politically active, and Brittany, France, where he still can’t do anything without asking for help.

Mark's book list on the magic of Brittany France

Mark Greenside Why did Mark love this book?

In 2000, angry at the state of the world, a fifty five year old acclaimed Swedish writer, sells her home and most of her belongings, leaves her homeland, and drives west with no destination in mind. She’s alone, but not lonely, searching for peace and freedom and a break with the past. She stops where the land ends, at the end of the world, Finistère, Brittany, where she buys a house, meets Madame C, and plants a garden. 

“It’s so wonderful here that one should write a book about it,” she tells Madame C, and spends the rest of the book refusing to write it, because to do so, she says, will diminish, simplify, and transform everything she loves about her new home. She’s like the banker who thinks money is filth and saves it; she’s the writer who distrusts words and writes—a memoir.

She writes about planting, tending, thinking,…

By Bodil Malmsten,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Price of Water in Finistère as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

'In the same way as there's a partner for every person, there's a place. All you have to do is find the one that's yours among the billions that belong to someone else, you have to be awake, you have to choose.'

With this conviction in mind, acclaimed Swedish writer Bodil Malmsten abandons her native country at the age of fifty-five and settles in Brittany.

At the heart of this memoir is the conviction that the happiness to be found in Finistere will not allow itself to be, cannot be, expressed in writing. Embroidered around this seeming paradox are poignant,…


Book cover of Memoirs of a Breton Peasant

Mark Greenside Author Of (Not Quite) Mastering the Art of French Living

From my list on the magic of Brittany France.

Why am I passionate about this?

Mark Greenside has been a civil rights activist, Vietnam War protestor, anti-draft counselor, Vista Volunteer, union leader, and college professor. He holds B.S. and M.A. degrees from the University of Wisconsin and his stories have appeared in numerous journals and magazines. He presently lives in Alameda, California, where he continues to teach and be politically active, and Brittany, France, where he still can’t do anything without asking for help.

Mark's book list on the magic of Brittany France

Mark Greenside Why did Mark love this book?

Jean-Marie Déguignet is not your typical Breton peasant. He’s small and puny—and these people aren’t built that way. At nine, a bee caused him to fall and hit his head, leaving an ugly wound that oozed for years and left a deep indentation in his skull when it finally healed. The result was a lifetime interest in bees and a lonely life, as no one wanted to be near him.  

A curious and isolated lad, he becomes an auto-diktat, and like many auto-diktats has lots of disparaging things to say about those who are less educated and more successful and powerful than he—especially church and government officials, monarchists, and landlords: ignorant bastards he constantly fought (and lost) who controlled and ruined his life. He’s an anti-cleric in this most Catholic of lands. He’s a Republican in a time and place of monarchists. He understands the world as a scientist, through…

By Jean-Marie Déguignet,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Memoirs of a Breton Peasant as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A fascinating document of an extraordinary life, Memoirs of A Breton Peasant reads with the liveliness of a novel and bristles with the vigor of an opinionated autodidact from the very lowest level of peasant society. Brittany during the nineteenth century was a place seemingly frozen in the Middle Ages, backwards by most French standards; formal education among rural society was either unavailable or dismissed as unnecessary, while the church and local myth defined most people's reasoning and motivation. Jean-Marie Déguignet is unique not only as a literate Breton peasant, but in his skepticism for the church, his interest in…


Book cover of The Horse of Pride: Life in a Breton Village

Mark Greenside Author Of (Not Quite) Mastering the Art of French Living

From my list on the magic of Brittany France.

Why am I passionate about this?

Mark Greenside has been a civil rights activist, Vietnam War protestor, anti-draft counselor, Vista Volunteer, union leader, and college professor. He holds B.S. and M.A. degrees from the University of Wisconsin and his stories have appeared in numerous journals and magazines. He presently lives in Alameda, California, where he continues to teach and be politically active, and Brittany, France, where he still can’t do anything without asking for help.

Mark's book list on the magic of Brittany France

Mark Greenside Why did Mark love this book?

Pierre-Jakez picks up where Jean-Marie Déguignet left off. This book is essentially a continuation of the story, a 20th century account of peasant family life in an area not far from where Déguignet lived a century earlier—except this book celebrates and revels and respects Breton culture, life, people, music, food, history, etc. It was published in 1975 and is part of the world-wide movement of identity politics, when ethnic groups, genders, religions, and nationalities are discovering their roots, history, beauty, and genius.

This book is a paean to Breton life and culture, and Pierre-Jakez becomes a cultural icon and hero for writing it. By the end of his life (1914-95), he is honored throughout Brittany. I saw and heard (but couldn’t understand) him at the huge, (thousands of people) annual Festival de Cornouaille in Quimper, where he was the guest of honor. 

This book is a mirror image of…

By Pierre-Jakez Helias,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Horse of Pride as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

"A marvelous chronicle of Breton lives and life, seen largely through the eyes of a child grown old, remembering how it used to be, in the years between the two world wars. The memoirs are magnificent. . . . The affectionate and touching portraits are not just of one family. . . . but of a whole people. . . . Like that faintly sweet, strong apple liqueur, this book should be savored slowly-set aside and picked up again, chapters read and re-read."-Neil Pickett, The New Republic
"A rich and moving memoir. . . . We can see why this…


Book cover of The Dickens Boy

Julianna Boyer Author Of Sunni: The Life and Love of King Tutankhamun's Wife

From my list on historical fiction about lesser-known characters.

Why am I passionate about this?

I have a passion for Historical Fiction. It started when I was 12 years old. Before that, I never liked any kind of history. Then, in school, we started learning about King Tut, and I was fascinated. I started having frequent dreams that he would sit and tell me stories about our life together and he believed that I was his wife, Sunni. Into adulthood, I still had these dreams, so I decided to write about the stories that he would tell. Along with exhaustive research, I learned who Sunni (Anukshanamun) was. My book is based on facts mixed with my dreams.

Julianna's book list on historical fiction about lesser-known characters

Julianna Boyer Why did Julianna love this book?

I am actually only part-way into this book, but I love it so far. I have always loved Charles Dickens, and learning more about his family interests me. This book is about his 10th child, Edward. He was a difficult child and was sent to the Outback. He lived among the aborigines and mostly convicts. It is a life story about how he handled it and tried coming out on top. I recommend this book because it gives hope and encouragement to all people. Young and old.

By Thomas Keneally,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Dickens Boy as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

By the Booker-winning author of Schindler's Ark, a vibrant novel about Charles Dickens' son and his little-known adventures in the Australian Outback.

In 1868, Charles Dickens dispatches his youngest child, sixteen-year-old Edward, to Australia.

Posted to a remote sheep station in New South Wales, Edward discovers that his father's fame has reached even there, as has the gossip about his father's scandalous liaison with an actress. Amid colonists, ex-convicts, local tribespeople and a handful of eligible young women, Edward strives to be his own man - and keep secret the fact that he's read none of his father's novels.

Conjuring…


Book cover of Rites of Passage

Why am I passionate about this?

I’ve been fascinated by "sea stories" since I could read, maybe before. I was born in Liverpool, my dad was in the navy, my family ran an 18th-century inn named the Turk’s Head after a nautical knot, and I’ve directed or written more than twenty films, plays, and novels with the sea as their setting. But they’re not really about the sea. For me, the sea is a mirror to reflect the human condition, a theatre for all the human dramas I can imagine. More importantly, I’ve read over a hundred sea stories for research and pleasure, and those I’ve chosen for you are the five I liked best.

Seth's book list on books about the sea that aren’t just about sailing on it, or fighting on it, or drowning in it, but are really about the human condition

Seth Hunter Why did Seth love this book?

Golding will forever be remembered for Lord of the Flies, but I think this is better (and so did he, apparently, a lot better).

It’s the story of people on a seemingly endless voyage from England to Australia in the 19th century, but for me, it’s like a spaceship on a voyage to another planet, like the spaceship in Alien with its own monsters aboard, the social mores, the injustices, the class privileges and prejudices, the sexual hangups, and the guilty secrets they carry with them. Pity poor Australia!

For me, it demonstrates that the sea can be a metaphor for reading (and writing). You embark on a journey, and you want to get to the end, but in a way, you want it to last forever.

By William Golding,

Why should I read it?

3 authors picked Rites of Passage as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 8, 9, 10, and 11.

What is this book about?

Sailing to Australia in the early years of the nineteenth century, Edmund Talbot keeps a journal to amuse his godfather back in England. Full of wit and disdain, he records the mounting tensions on the ancient, stinking warship, where officers, sailors, soldiers and emigrants jostle in the crammed spaces below decks.Then a single passenger, the obsequious Reverend Colley, attracts the animosity of the sailors, and in the seclusion of the fo'castle something happens to bring him into a 'hell of self-degradation', where shame is a force deadlier than the sea itself.


Book cover of Comrades and Chicken Ranchers

Stuart Rojstaczer Author Of The Mathematician's Shiva

From my list on the immigrant experience.

Why am I passionate about this?

I’m the child of immigrants and my role in the family was to be my parents’ American expert and translator. I learned my expertise by living, of course, but my understanding of the interior life and thoughts of Americans often came from reading American novels. Immigration-themed novels are catnip to me because they remind me, often with warmth, of my own childhood and parents. 

Stuart's book list on the immigrant experience

Stuart Rojstaczer Why did Stuart love this book?

This book is a true labor of love, an oral history about a community of Eastern European Jewish chicken ranchers that lived in Petaluma, California for decades. The voices ring with the cadence and language of my own childhood although the era is older and the political leanings of those interviewed are different than those in my own neighborhood. What distinguishes this book from many is that the community has no wish to assimilate.

By Kenneth L. Kann,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Comrades and Chicken Ranchers as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Given its tumultuous history, one would hardly have expected Petaluma, California, to become transformed into the San Francisco bedroom suburb that it is today. It had been a small-town agricultural community, where Jewish chicken ranchers and radicals enjoyed a vigorous Yiddish cultural life, maintained intense political commitments, and took part in sharp conflicts among themselves and with the society beyond.

In this unique work of oral history, Kenneth Kann has ingeniously arranged and edited interviews with more than two hundred people, some of them telling their life stories in their own Yiddishized English. We meet an array of striking characters…


Book cover of Care Across Distance: Ethnographic Explorations of Aging and Migration

Michele Ruth Gamburd Author Of Linked Lives: Elder Care, Migration, and Kinship in Sri Lanka

From my list on migration and aging.

Why am I passionate about this?

My mom was an anthropologist, and when I was two, she took me to Sri Lanka, the island off the tip of India. After years of insisting that I wanted nothing to do with any social science, let alone anthropology, I ended up in graduate school studying… anthropology. Long story. Having taken up the family mantel, I returned to the village where I lived as a child and asked what had changed in the intervening years. Since then, my Sri Lankan interlocutors have suggested book topics that include labor migration, the use and abuse of alcohol, the aftermath of the Indian Ocean Tsunami, and the challenges of aging. 

Michele's book list on migration and aging

Michele Ruth Gamburd Why did Michele love this book?

The authors in this lively edited volume provide eight short, readable chapters about migration and aging that span the globe, from Vienna to Ecuador to Upstate New York. How do elders displaced from Tibet think about a “second exile” in the United States? Do Bosnian migrants’ remittances make up for their long absences, or would it be better to stay home but not provide financial support? These ethnographers offer riveting windows into intergenerational relations in transnational families around the world.  

By Azra Hromadzic (editor), Monika Palmberger (editor),

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Care Across Distance as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

World-wide migration has an unsettling effect on social structures, especially on aging populations and eldercare. This volume investigates how taken-for-granted roles are challenged, intergenerational relationships transformed, economic ties recalibrated, technological innovations utilized, and spiritual relations pursued and desired, and asks what it means to care at a distance and to age abroad. What it does show is that trans-nationalization of care produces unprecedented convergences of people, objects and spaces that challenge our assumptions about the who, how, and where of care.


Book cover of Mother's Century: A Survivor, Her People and Her Times

Irene Wittig Author Of All That Lingers

From my list on hard times and resilience in the World War II era.

Why am I passionate about this?

World War II has been the background of my life. My Viennese family fled the Nazi regime. My childhood was peopled with Holocaust survivors and other people displaced by war. My uncle was a refugee and was trained as a Ritchie Boy and sent to war. I have been inspired by how people can survive traumatic times and come out stronger and kinder.

Irene's book list on hard times and resilience in the World War II era

Irene Wittig Why did Irene love this book?

This biography of the author’s mother and role model is as much a portrait of an intelligent, cultured, resilient woman as it is a well-researched history of the hundred-and-one years she lived through. Born into a middle-class Jewish family in Vienna she lived through World War I, post-war depression, antisemitism, and the violent rise of Nazism. With courage and determination she found a way to escape the worst horrors of the Holocaust (although many in her family did not) and faced the challenges of building a new life in a new culture.

By Richard L. Hermann,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Mother's Century as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Mother’s Century: A Survivor, Her People and Her Times is the “bio-history” of Margarete Sobel Hermann, the author’s mother and role model, who lived 101 tumultuous and productive years. Her life spanned 95 percent of the twentieth century, during which she and her family experienced much of the good, the bad and the exceptionally ugly that marked that most violent of eras. Born into a middle-class Jewish family in Imperial Vienna, she survived the First World War, famine and starvation, runaway inflation, political turmoil that makes what we are undergoing today pale in comparison, discrimination, street violence, the Great Depression,…


Book cover of Alien Nation: Chinese Migration in the Americas from the Coolie Era through World War II

Kevin Kenny Author Of The Problem of Immigration in a Slaveholding Republic: Policing Mobility in the Nineteenth-Century United States

From my list on US immigration in the nineteenth century.

Why am I passionate about this?

I write and teach about nineteenth-century US history, and I am interested in immigration for both personal and professional reasons. A native of Dublin, Ireland, I did my undergraduate work in Edinburgh, Scotland, completed my graduate degree in New York City, moved to Austin, Texas for my first academic job and to Boston for my second job, and then returned to New City York to take up my current position at NYU, where I teach US immigration history and run Glucksman Ireland House. The key themes in my work—migration, diaspora, and empire—have been as central to my life journey as to my research and teaching. 

Kevin's book list on US immigration in the nineteenth century

Kevin Kenny Why did Kevin love this book?

Bridging the nineteenth and twentieth centuries in a sweeping, transnational history, Alien Nation provides a compelling account of Chinese migration to the Americas from the 1840s through World War II.

In vivid prose, Young tells the story of how Chinese laborers mined gold, built railroads, and harvested sugar cane; how anti-Chinese restrictionists demonized these workers as “coolies”; and how nationalist movements throughout the Americas enflamed anti-Chinese sentiment.

Alien Nation explains how different national governments borrowed from one other in crafting policies regulating and controlling Chinese immigration, but also how these policies clashed and diverged. Within this transnational framework, Elliott Young recovers the agency of Chinese migrants, facing exclusion, deportation, and segregation, who circumvented government policies to form vibrant communities that transcended national borders.

By Elliott Young,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Alien Nation as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

In this sweeping work, Elliott Young traces the pivotal century of Chinese migration to the Americas, beginning with the 1840s at the start of the "coolie" trade and ending during World War II. The Chinese came as laborers, streaming across borders legally and illegally and working jobs few others wanted, from constructing railroads in California to harvesting sugar cane in Cuba. Though nations were built in part from their labor, Young argues that they were the first group of migrants to bear the stigma of being "alien." Being neither black nor white and existing outside of the nineteenth century Western…


5 book lists we think you will like!

Interested in immigrants, France, and country life?

10,000+ authors have recommended their favorite books and what they love about them. Browse their picks for the best books about immigrants, France, and country life.

Immigrants Explore 166 books about immigrants
France Explore 883 books about France
Country Life Explore 52 books about country life