Coons, Nancy 1955-2007
Coons, Nancy 1955-2007
Born July 16, 1955; naturalized French citizen; died June 24, 2007, in France; married Mark Olson; children: Elodie and Alice. Education: Attended University of Michigan; studied voice under Ionel Pantea.
Writer. Also worked as editor of Stagebill magazine, horn player with Arkansas Symphony, and singer with the Ensemble Vocal du Luxembourg, La Psallette de Lorraine, and the Théâtre National du Luxembourg.
Fodor's Provence and the Côte d'Azur, Fodor's Travel Publications (New York, NY), 1999.
Escape to Provence, Fodor's Travel Publications (New York, NY), 2000.
Escape to the Riviera, Fodor's Travel Publications (New York, NY), 2001.
Fodor's Switzerland, Fodor's Travel Publications (New York, NY), 2002.
The Feasting Season: A Novel, Algonquin Books of Chapel Hill (Chapel Hill, NC), 2007.
Contributor of commentary to the National Public Radio program All Things Considered. Contributor to periodicals, including International Herald Tribune, Wall Street Journal, New York Times, and Saveur.
Raised in a musical family in Grand Rapids, Michigan, Nancy Coons majored in French horn and voice at the University of Michigan School of Music, then went on to play with the Arkansas Symphony for four years before leaving to edit Stagebill and work as a freelance writer. She traveled throughout Europe, writing, studying voice, and performing, before settling with her husband in a three-hundred-year-old French farmhouse to raise their two daughters.
During her writing career, Coons wrote for the International Herald Tribune, the Wall Street Journal, the New York Times, Saveur (an award-winning gourmet food, wine, and travel magazine), and contributed commentaries to National Public Radio's All Things Considered. Coons wrote four European travel guides for Fodor's Travel Publications before penning her final work, The Feasting Season: A Novel, which Sheryl Cornett of the Durham Independent Weekly heralded as a "sensuous, luscious read."
Coons's experience as a travel writer, food journalist, and American expatriate living in France culminate in The Feasting Season. This novel follows Meg Parker, an American travel writer living in a sprawling French farmhouse with her callous British husband and two small children. Meg is assigned a dream project writing an illustrated historical guide to France, and sent gallivanting through the countryside with photographer Jean-Jacques Chabrol, a gourmet from a noted wine family. Although initially quarrelsome, their mutual annoyance quickly turns to passion. By the novel's end, Jean-Jacques and Meg's husband confront each other in the fields of Agincourt (the famous site of English King Henry V's defeat of Charles VI of France), and Meg flees to finish her book in solitude and choose between passion and obligation.
Although The Feasting Season was generally well received, some critics took issue with the book's conventional characters and plot. In her review for ForeWord magazine, Beth Hemke Shapiro stated that Coons should "further develop her characters' personalities; here they are sometimes limited and predictable." Nonetheless, many reviewers praised the author for her detailed, accurate, and evocative descriptions of lush gourmet meals and the French countryside as well as her artful weaving of French history throughout the novel. According to PopMatters Web site contributor Leslie Joseph, "Coons employs every word and phrase to evoke responses from all the senses. The result is a rich, descriptive tale that can satisfy readers interested in a woman's experiences of marriage, romance, career, family, and her craft, all tinged with the delights of French culture."
Nancy Coons died on June 24, 2007, following a long illness.
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Booklist, May 15, 2007, Mark Knoblauch, review of The Feasting Season: A Novel, p. 20.
ForeWord, September-October, 2007, Beth Hemke Shapiro, review of The Feasting Season.
Independent Weekly (Durham, NC), December 26, 2007, Sheryl Cornett, review of The Feasting Season.
Kirkus Reviews, May 15, 2007, review of The Feasting Season.
Publishers Weekly, April 16, 2007, review of The Feasting Season, p. 28.
Intermedii Web site,http://www.intermedii.lu/ (February 11, 2007), brief biography of author.
PopMatters,http://www.popmatters.com/ (October 25, 2007), Leslie Joseph, review of The Feasting Season.