Photo of Quercy by edem56 used under a Creative Commons license.
M.S. Merwin, The Lost Upland (Shoemaker & Hoard, 2004).
Writing about Southwestern France in Salon’s Literary Guide to the World, Sarah Karnasiewicz writes:
Though Gascony and the Dordogne remain far less traveled than most of southern France, their anachronistic beauties have not gone entirely unnoticed by foreigners. In the 1950s, the renowned American poet W.S. Merwin bought a ruined house in the rural province of Quercy and has spent decades getting to know not only his neighbors but also the ghosts that hover over every town and valley in the countryside. . . . Merwin has emerged as one of the most prominent English-language chroniclers of the region’s people and patois. “The Lost Upland,” a semi-autobiographical collection of three short stories, combines Merwin’s inimitable eye for poetic natural detail with a keen attention to the quirks and constants of life in a small village. What emerges is a portrait of a place and people both blessed and burdened by the weight of history, and an exploration of what it means to be an eternal outsider.
Here is Google Book Search, with an excerpt, etc. Here is a bio of Merwin. Ginger Danto reviewed it in The New York Times. Peter Davison, The Atlantic‘s poetry editor, wrote in 1997 about Merwin’s career. Dinitia Smith profiled Merwin in The New York Times in 1995. Karen Moline stayed at Merwin’s house overlooking the Dordogne River. Like Merwin, Helen Martin has been in the Lot.