Little Money Street
In 1998, novelist Fernanda Eberstadt (The Furies) moved to Perpignan in southern France and became enchanted with the music of one of Europe’s largest Gypsy populations. After some difficulty — the group is exceptionally suspicious of outsiders — she befriended the family of a prominent musician (who signed a record deal with Sony but failed to capitalize on it). In Little Money Street, she offers an inside look at a culture that is rakishly charming, resolutely stubborn, and openly contemptuous of French society. She writes of Taliban-esque traditions in which girls wed at 14, boys barely old enough to cross the street alone drive the ratty family car, and families withhold their kids from school lest they become too acculturated. Thankfully, Eberstadt’s empathy and precise eye for detail anchor a sometimes wandering narrative.