THE COUNTRY WHERE I SOLVED MY DISCONTENT
The fleeting memoir of a nearly perfect year
D. L. Pughe
Lena is 12 with a wonderful father, a mapmaker whose work takes them to fascinating cities around the world. Her summers are spent in nature with her grandmother, a retired botanist, in her small house in the Vosges Mountains of Alsace. Here Lena is able to freely roam the woods, to read voraciously in the shelter of a fallen log, and occasionally glimpse deer and other forest creatures. Her longing to live immersed in the natural world is ignited by special moments with a gentle roe deer. From there it is fueled by all the deer legends around the world, but also tinged with other memories and longing for her mother who died when she was just 4.
When autumn arrives, Lena usually faces moving to a different city, daunting schools with new languages and friends yet to be made. But last year at the Ecole Internationale in Geneva, or Ecolint as it is called, she made a best friend, Edna and she is overjoyed to learn she can return for another year. There she and Edna form a circle of friends who call themselves La Bande de Tétes, the gang of heads. They share a desire to learn in their own way, to draw and write and explore. They love books and music, animals and nature, collecting things and conducting experiments. This leads to their creation, in secret, of a miniature museum of natural history, kept hidden in suitcases under their dormitory beds. Gathering materials requires befriending the most unlikely allies at Ecolint. Then they finance the parts they can’t make themselves by walking dogs for elderly ladies in Geneva who gradually become their friends.
How their secret is discovered leads to a startling finalé before Lena must return to Alsace for the winter holidays. The Country Where I Solved My Discontent captures a moment in time before the rush of adolescence, how questioning and growing awareness lead away from fairy tales into adult realities. And how the magic and peace found in nature and friendship become lasting and portable.