Long Way from Paris (Murray)

A Long Way from Paris 
E.C. Murray, 2014
Plicata Press
280 pp.
ISBN-13: 9780990310211

IIn this searing true story named one of KIRKUS BEST BOOKS of 2014, EC Murray discards her dream of being a famous writer in Paris and hitchhikes by herself to the south of France where she winds up herding goats on a remote mountain farm.

Living with a non-English speaking family (she speaks little French) she carves a life without running water, heat, and only two electric light bulbs. Struggling under the watchful eye of the harsh matriarch, this city girl fails at farm chores. She can’t carry buckets of water, milk goats, or work fast enough making goat cheese.

Murray recently lost sixty pounds, so her body is stiff and unused to the rigor of mountain life. Still, she feels a spiritual calling to this remote Languedoc farm, west of the Mediterranean, north of the Pyrenees. Life eases when a young English speaking shepherd joins the family.

Together, Murray and Randy laugh and eke fun where they can. He teaches Murray how to tend the goats, sheep, and ornery pregnant cow. As Elizabeth slides into her role as goatherd, she spends hours at a time alone with her animals, reading, meditating, and mulling over the classic books she never read in school—Anna Karenina, Pride and Prejudice, The Reivers.

Murray yearns for the boy she left behind, her first love. He captured her heart, but lived a self-destructive lifestyle. She remembers her days doing drugs and partying, and in contrast, relishes the clarity she finds up in the fresh air and open sky of the countryside.

Throughout this riveting book, Elizabeth reflects on her days at an elite New England prep school, her wilder days as an Oregon hippie, and her student days as a philosophy major. When tragedy strikes the family and the matriarch departs, Murray realizes her metamorphous as she runs the farm with new strength, confidence and competence.

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