Sunday, December 1, 2013

Calvaries of Brittany

As they drive around Brittany, Susan and the Carmichaels often see Calvaries. These statues are dotted all over the region. Although they can be found in many parts of Europe, they are particularly popular in Brittany and Belgium. This one is in Finistère, the French equivalent of Land's End. In Susan's Kind Heart, when Jean-Louis tells the children about Mont St. Michel, he compares it with St. Michael's Mount in Cornwall. Several comparisons are drawn between Brittany and Cornwall. The children observe that "like Cornwall, the inland scenery of Brittany was less interesting than the coast". When they arrive at Dinan ("not to be confused with Dinard") and Jean-Louis speaks his piece about Napoleon the Third and the confusion over a new spire for St. Malo's Church in Dinan that actually ended up being built in the town of St. Malo, he and Susan draw comparisons between the strange names of Cornish and Breton saints. Brittany has saints with names like St. Clos, St. Budoc and St. Cast, while Cornwall has St. Kew, St. Tudy and St. Mawes. Jean-Louis then provides further confusing information that the names of St. Brieuc and St. Brioc are interchangeable, but that the saint was actually Welsh. It's unusual that of all the young people on the journey, the author chose Susan to rattle off all this information about the saints of Cornwall and Brittany. It's not like her to have this sort of stuff on fast recall, although earlier in the story, when she surprises Charlotte and Midge by telling them the French word for boiled egg, she claims that there are a whole lot of things that she knows that she doesn't get credit for.