Love among the Cheeses

Lidija Haas

  • The House in France: A Memoir by Gully Wells
    Bloomsbury, 307 pp, £16.99, June 2011, ISBN 978 1 4088 0809 2

What would it have been like to fall in love with the young Martin Amis, ‘the most fascinating man’ Gully Wells had ever met? ‘Only the most awful clichés,’ she tells us, ‘could possibly do justice to the way I felt.’ He was ‘very funny and very clever’; ‘he made me laugh and told me things I didn’t know.’ She is a bit more specific about his clothes: his skintight black velvet ‘strides’, snakeskin boots, or for the beach, ‘snug little pale blue shorts, a chiffon flower-patterned shirt, unbuttoned’. Wells’s memoir has more to say about cheeses: ‘a soupy Reblochon and a gamey Epoisses’; ‘Brie … drooling over the edge of the marble slab’; ‘more varieties of goat cheese than I knew existed: some smooth and blue with a hard crust, others covered in fresh herbs, tiny pyramids of sharp flavour, logs of creaminess, and none of them had travelled more than 20 kilometres to arrive at our table.’ To accompany them, ‘pink-and-white peaches with the complexion of a Boucher milkmaid’ and ‘figs so ripe their purple skins had started to split open, threatening to reveal their juicy, red, pornographic interiors’.

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