Praise for A Long Way from Iowa

A Long Way from Iowa: From the Heartland to the Heart of France is the story of how the seeds of a fervent, though unspoken, dream of a literary life were first planted in a small town in Iowa in the 1890s; and how those seeds were discreetly, quietly, and carefully nurtured, coming to fruition two generations and more than a hundred years later in a little village in the Champagne region of France. This is a coming-of-middle-age memoir in which the author is able to live out some of the unfulfilled dreams of her mother and grandmother; and the story of how in the process she comes to understand and appreciate their role in preparing the way for her to become a writer.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Janet Hulstrand is the author of A Long Way from Iowa: From the Heartland to the Heart of France, and Demystifying the French: How to Love Them, and Make Them Love You. She writes frequently for, France Today, France Revisited, and for her blog, Writing from the Heart, Reading for the Road. She created and has taught literature classes in France, Italy, Hawaii, and Cuba for City University of New York study abroad programs since 1997, and she teaches online classes for Politics and Prose bookstore in Washington DC. She lives in a beautiful little village in the Champagne region of France, where she is working on her next book.


“…a lovely, lyrical memoir that tells the story of the author’s winding path from a childhood in Minnesota to her adventures as an adult in New York, Washington, Paris, and beyond. Her story reaches back to her family’s roots in small-town Iowa, and leads ultimately to building a life in the French countryside. Embedded in this story are suggestions for how to live a creative life: pay attention to the details, do not give in to convention, and follow your dreams, wherever they may lead. Janet Hulstrand is an engaging and empathetic storyteller, and her memoir is a testament to the writing life, and to all the hardship and reward that it entails.” Susan Coll, author of Bookish People and five other novels

“Janet Hulstrand’s charming memoir will cheer every reader who has dreamed of changing her life, living in Europe, becoming a writer, or just plain having a more lively time than a Midwestern girl usually expects.” Diane Johnson, best-selling author of Le Divorce, Lorna Mott Comes Home, and ten other novels; and six works of nonfiction including Flyover Lives: A Memoir.

“What a story! A saga: from Grandma Effie (b.1892) to mother Carol (b.1925) to Janet (b.1953); from Minnesota to New York City, Brooklyn, Washington, D.C., and—bring out the glasses, sing out the toasts—Champagne, France. It even includes the Kennedys—yes, those Kennedys, Caroline, John, and Jackie….For me, the test of a well-written memoir is if I’d want to spend prolonged time with the author. I give bonus points if I like the person, because not all interesting/creative people—even when writing about themselves—are likeable. With Janet Hulstrand, there are bonus points aplenty. This is a brave, true, honest, honest, honest story and storyteller. The book is a lesson and model of self-exploration and revelation, and like all good stories it ends where the next one will begin. The sequel can’t arrive soon enough.” Mark Greenside, author of I’ll Never Be French (no matter what I do) and (not quite) Mastering the Art of French Living.

“In this well-written, well-researched memoir, Janet Hulstrand looks back on her life growing up in a Midwestern family, and the road she took to go beyond it to places that are indeed a long way from Iowa. Skillfully weaving the threads of her own life with those of her mother’s and grandmother’s, she garners facts, but more importantly, insights into their lives. As she begins to understand the grandmother to whom she was never close, she realizes that her life as a writer owes much to the influence of that grandmother as well as that of her mother. As a fellow writer and a fellow Midwesterner, I tip my hat to her for the persistence and thoughtfulness with which she pursues her exploration of the past. This is the story of three strong women and the personal challenges they faced…a wonderful accomplishment, and storytelling at its best.” Harriet Welty Rochefort, author of French Toast, French Fried, Joie de Vivre, and Final Transgression

“Janet Hulstrand is an adventurer with a passion for travel, and a writer with a gift to teach. Her honest memoir of moving to a village in France will inspire others to think of change as life-enhancing, and courage as a habit we can learn.” Elaine Showalter, Professor Emerita of English, Princeton University

“Libraries need this book! This is an all-American story about three generations of Midwestern women with a passion for reading, writing, and travel, and how that passion was passed down from mother to daughter. Descriptions of life in small-town Iowa in the early part of the 20th century are provided through local newspaper accounts; and travels by train and bus come alive through the letters and journals of the author’s grandmother and mother. In the final section of the book, the author tells the story of her own journey, from growing up in suburban Minneapolis to life in a village in the Champagne region of France. The stories of these three women, each adventurous in her own way, show how changes in the nature of opportunities for women have affected their lives from the early 20th century to the present.” Ginnie Cooper, former director of public libraries in Multnomah County, Oregon; Brooklyn, New York; and the District of Columbia.

“I love everything about this book: I love the story, I love the writing, I love the way it flows like silk. Having grown up in New Orleans and spent the last half of my adult life in Paris, I never thought I would be so interested in a cast of characters from small-town Iowa in the early 1900s! But, from the minute I started reading, I was hooked. Janet Hulstrand takes us on a fascinating journey, both backward in time as she seeks to uncover the hidden lives of her grandmother and mother, and then forward as she forges her own adventurous path out of the Midwest and into a little village in the French countryside. A fun and heartwarming read that reminds us of the truly important aspects of our lives –– our families and our values!” Adrian Leeds, from HGTV’s House Hunters International and author of Adrian Leeds Nouvellelettre®

Janet Hulstrand in Essoyes, France 2015. Photo by Kevin Sisson.

Read an excerpt from the book here:

NOW AVAILABLE through BookBaby:

And your local indie bookstore! (In Paris, copies are available at The Red Wheelbarrow, and in Washington DC at Politics and Prose Bookstore. )

Also available from, IndieBound, Barnes and Noble, Amazon and other online sellers. Publication: March 10, 2023

ISBN 9781667879185 (print); 9781667879192 (ebook)

For more information or review copies:

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