DON WALLACE was born in Long Beach, California and now, after decades in New York City, lives in Honolulu, dreams in France, and writes about all four places and quite a few others in-between.
“On a tiny French island a couple of American dreamers redefine their lives by restoring a ruin--which in this lovely, shimmering story becomes a parable of a saner, greener, more sustainable path that we all can follow if we will but listen to the wisdom of the villagers the way the Wallaces did. The French House moves to a soulful, very funny rhythm all its own.”--Meryl Streep
“A brave, thoughtful, and very amusing memoir about a fantasy that many of us have had but not dared to attempt.”--Jane Smiley, bestselling and Pulitzer-winning author of A Thousand Acres
“The only question is which you’ll fall in love with first, Don Wallace’s plucky family, or the enchanted French island on which they (re)build their dream house. Lyrical, funny, and poignant, The French House is the next best thing to an extended vacation by the sea.”--Kevin Baker, The Big House
“In this beautifully written, rich, moving story of a fabulous, resourceful and utterly original family, Don Wallace has crafted a delicious French bon-bon of a book. THE FRENCH HOUSE is full of humor, hope, and I dare say, lessons on how to live a life full of meaning. I loved it.”--Dani Shapiro, bestselling author of Devotion and Still Writing
“The French House isn’t a memoir. It’s a vacation. Charming, gorgeous, perceptive, it is peppered with unforgettable characters and steeped in the deep red wine of long-term friendship, showing us how a remarkable place can make a life worth living. You will never want to leave Belle Ile or Don Wallace’s inspiring tale of holding onto a dream despite overwhelming adversity.”--Jennie Fields, bestselling author of The Age of Desire
“You’ve never been any place as beguiling as Don Wallace’s Belle Ile. He’s a funny, literate raconteur with a story full of fine twists, soulful turns, and fantastic neighbors.”--William Finnegan, author of Barbarian Days: A Surfing Life
DON WALLACE is the editor of The Hawaii Review of Books, or THROB, which you can find at hawaiireviewofbooks.com. He received Hawaii's Petrie Award for outstanding service to literature in 2020. A graduate of Long Beach Polytechnic High School, the University of California at Santa Cruz, and the Iowa Writer's Workshop, he started writing poetry and stories and doing journalism in junior high school and never stopped. A lover of books, he reviewed for Kirkus Reviews for 25 years for the pleasure of it (certainly not the money!). His first novel, Hot Water, was published in 1991 by Soho Press thanks to the divine intercession of Laurie Colwin and Soho editors Juris Jurjevics and Laura Hruska. His second book, One Great Game: Two Teams, Two Dreams, in the First Ever High School National Championship Football Game, was compared to Friday Night Lights. Wallace admits he had ulterior motives writing about football and his hometown, Long Beach, believing both played a role in improving public education and Civil Rights during his school years. He next published 16 installments of a serial novel about the American Revolution as experienced by a time-traveling brother and sister, A Tide in Time: The Log of Matthew Roving, in Naval History Magazine and later won the U.S. Naval Institute's author of the year award. In 2014 he published The French House: An American Family, a Ruined Maison, and the Village that Restored Them All; it has been a joy to connect with its readers around the world. A semi-resident of Hawaii since 1976 after marrying Mindy Eun Soo Pennybacker, and full-time in 2009, he wrote the 2010 documentary film "Those Who Came Before: The Musical Journey of Eddie Kamae" about the search for the last unrecorded, original Hawaiian music, which was the closing night selection of both the Hawaii International Film Festival and the Pacific Rim Film Festival. Currently contributing editor at Honolulu Magazine, he has been executive editor of Yachting and Golf Digest Woman magazines, the features-books editor of SELF, senior editor of Success and MotorBoating & Sailing, founding editor of Travelers Advantage and literary and film editor of The Honolulu Weekly. With Mindy and their son and daughter in law Kaitlin they get back to Belle Ile whenever possible. A walker and hiker, he also bodysurfs.
WALLACE posts around, most often on Instagram @donwallace212 and Facebook. His Belle Ile Pinterest page (Google Don Wallace Belle Ile) has photos, art by painters who found inspiration on Belle Ile and other cultural curios. Lately inactive posts at donwallacefranceblog.tumblr.com and asaltyblog.blogspot.com. His twitter handle is @don212wallace but he pretty much avoided the fray until... On a positive note, Wallace sings, loudly and slightly off-key.
THE AUTHOR OF FOUR BOOKS (if you count the young adult WaterSports Basics, Prentice-Hall, 1985), Wallace has written for The New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, Harper's, Fast Company, The Surfer's Journal, Islands, Wine Spectator, and others. While he likes to think of himself as a poet, a pirate, a pawn and a kingly prose stylist, he knows he's mostly tolerated for his cooking.
THE FRENCH HOUSE: An American Family, a Ruined Maison, and the Village that Restored Them All (Sourcebooks, 2014);
ONE GREAT GAME: Two Teams, Two Dreams, in the First-Ever National Championship High School Football Game (Atria; 2003);
HOT WATER, a novel (Soho Press, 1991);
WATERSPORTS BASICS (Prentice-Hall, 1985).
DON WALLACE received the Pluma de Plata Mexicana for reporting on Baja California, the Michener Prize from the Copernicus Society for a first novel, Author of the Year recognition from the U.S. Naval Institute for a serialized novel in Naval History Magazine (A Tide in Time: The Log of Matthew Roving), and the Eagle Award from The New York Times (employee recognition). He was a MacDowell Colony Fellow and accepted to Yaddo. His work won selection in Next Stop Hollywood: Short Stories Bound for the Screen (St. Martin's, 2007, ed. Steve Cohen). Wallace has received four first place awards (long-form feature, business, health and sports) and six runner up or finalist awards from the Society of Professional Journalists Hawaii Chapter, including the 2019 Best Body of Work by a Single Writer. Two stories have been finalists in the national City and Regional Magazines Association awards: Hail to the General! (best food/restaurant feature) and Shark! (best long-form feature). In April 2020 he founded The Hawaii Review of Books with creative director James Charisma.
WALLACE is married to Mindy Eun Soo Pennybacker, the author of DO ONE GREEN THING (St. Martin's) and features writer and book review editor at The Honolulu Star-Advertiser newspaper. She is by far the better surfer. They have a son, Rory, married to Kaitlin Wood Wallace. Rory speaks much better French.
For 40 years we've been part-time citoyens of a tiny village on a tiny island in Brittany, Belle Ile en Mer. Broke, working entry-level jobs, barely hanging onto our illegal New York City sublet apartment, we had no business buying the house, then a ruin. Here we are, when chairs were in short supply.
My new novel, also set on Belle Ile, imagines an island encounter between a half-dozen souls whose lives have been broken or disrupted and a trio of refugees washed ashore from a shipwreck. At first unknown to each other, their efforts to help the trio escape deportation and internment brings them all together in a chain of humanity forged by Belle Ile's magic.
FOR THE PAST 5 YEARS WE"VE BEEN IN HONOLULU, where my wife was born and grew up in a Korean family that got out of the plantation and ended up making the first gourmet kim chee in the Islands. Halms, you'll know it by the gold label.