When Emma at Words and Peace asked if I would review this book for her France Book Tours , I wasn’t sure, as I’m not much of a reviewer. I love to read and I love to give my feelings about books. But to dissect them and truly “review” them? Well, I will do my best. AND, if you read to the end, you will learn how YOU can win your own e-copy of this book! Woot!
I don’t have too much in common with Katherine (Katica, Kat): she is a research assistant for a specialist in the study of pain. She has her PhD and loves her job (no PhD for me, but do love my job!). She thinks life is going along as normal, and then on her anniversary her husband drops the bomb: he is with someone else and going to be having a baby. Her life is forever changed and she feels that her past was a lie. Anger, betrayal, sadness. She moves in with her mother who reminds her of Nietzsche’s philosophy, which is also her own, that “what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.”
So, thankfully I haven’t been betrayed in such a terrible way by a person in a relationship, but I have had the experience of “starting over” and re-evaluating life a few times. When my daughter went to college, I remember feeling so sad that I wasn’t even able to face the empty house after drop-off day. And then suddenly I recognized that I had freedom – and my motto became “I can do whatever I want!” It was a great year of being foot-loose and fancy free! For the first time since forever.
And then the flood happened and took our house and personal belongings and rocked our world a little bit (understatement?). I highlighted a line in Patricia Sand’s book that reflected my feelings after that time:
“How is it, when my heart is so broken, the world can still be such a beautiful place? It isn’t right. It isn’t appropriate or fair. Everyone and everything should be suffering like I am.”
Going to work, watching people mow their lawns, seeing that life was “normal” everywhere else, was hard to bear some days. But life does go on. And on and on.
In The Promise of Provence, Kat is encouraged by her great friends, friends whose relationships she began to nourish and cherish as never before. If you know me, you know that I believe in and value the power of friendships – I’m so glad that it was part of this book! Kat also discovers the world of “home exchanges” and her life is never the same. She chooses to swap homes with a family in Provence, the land of Peter Mayle novels. She has traveled to France in her younger days and is glad to revisit. During her first visit she finds that it is OK to be alone. OK to embrace change. She discovers the life of plaisir – pleasure.
Mirella: “You know, Katherine, we are masters in the art of plasir. It is the underlying theme of life here. In spite of the many negatives in our society today, the French continue to strive to be artful, exquisite. It is a legacy we do not want to lose.
“It combines with the art of seduction… la seduction,” Joy interjected, with a knowing smile. “It’s a virtuous skill here to seduce and touch all the senses with fashion, cuisine, wine, scent, words…
Also the world of pastis (an anise flavored liqueur and aperitif of France) and petanque (a French game of boules, which is like bocce ball)and panier (a basket for carrying provisions) . She meets Philippe and Picasso and hopes to someday return. Not long after, an opportunity arises and she goes – for longer this time, and during her second home exchange she discovers that she truly is self-reliant and feels at home.
Katherine: “Anyu’s words to me about being alone, about finding strength in being alone, live inside me all the time. They’re empowering.”
“I thought the end of my marriage was the door slamming on my life but instead it turns out to have opened the door of opportunity.”
Isn’t that the way life is?
The Promise of Provence is full of popular culture references (Downton Abbey!) and also things that I had to look up. One thing I looked up was quite a treat! In Cap d’Antibes, Katherine speaks with Philippe about La Grande Nomade, which she can see from her windows. The art feature is by artist Jaume Plensa and Philippe tells Kat about the artist’s philosophy:
“I read an interview with him that touched me deeply. The feeling he expresses through this work is that letters are like bricks. They help us to construct our thoughts. He described his belief that our skin is permanently and invisibly tattooed with the text of our life experiences and then someone comes along – a friend, a lover – who is able to decipher these tattoos.”
I had to see what this art work was so I went to Google…
and lo and behold, I have a photo of one his pieces – the same piece – not in Cap d’Antibes, but in Des Moines, IA! How fun. We loved discovering the “Letterman,” as we called him, in the Pappajohn Sculpture Garden one spring day.
From Wikipedia: Plensa says, “Telles des briques, les lettres ont une potentialité de construction, elles nous permettent de construire une pensée”. (Such bricks, letters have the potential to construct, they enable us to construct a thought.)
I received this book as a gift from the author, and although there were times that plodded along for me, it truly was a gift – a reminder that it is always good to seek the plaisir in life, enjoy each moment, savor your friendships, and to be ready for adventure.
“Each day is a gift, Katica. Try to live your life knowing what matters most and always, always, remember… what doesn’t kill us… ”
And now, as promised, a gift for you!
Please leave a comment below and you will be entered to win a copy of The Promise of Provence in e-book style!
Winner will be drawn at random and announced on Tuesday, July 9.
Also click through below to learn more about the book, about the author! I know that I’m putting her first book The Bridge Club in my TBR list!
The Promise of Provence Synopsis
June in Provence is full of promise when Katherine arrives from Canada, eager to feel renewed by her surroundings. Endless rows of lavender prepare to burst into pink and purple blooms. Fields of sunflowers flow in golden waves among vineyards and olive groves overlooked by ancient hilltop villages. It’s the postcard setting she envisioned, but is that all she needs?
After a year of heartbreak, Katherine has impulsively agreed to a home exchange in the south of France. Colorful locals, a yellow lab named Picasso, and the inspiring beauty of the countryside breathe new life into her days.
Seeking to shed the pain of betrayal and loss, she struggles to recapture her joie de vivre and searches for the answer to a haunting question: is it too late to begin again?
“Be prepared to fall in love with Provence! This is a story that will draw you in with its vibrancy in setting and characters. A must read for any woman with a desire for romance and travel.” Steena Holmes, author of Amazon bestseller Finding Emma
Publication Date: May 30, 2013
457 pages, ISBN 9780991931316 Published through CreateSpace
Patricia Sands lives in Toronto, Canada, when she isn’t somewhere else. An admitted travel fanatic, she can pack a bag in a flash and be ready to go anywhere … particularly the south of France. With a focus on women’s issues and ageing, her stories celebrate the feminine spirit and the power of friendship. Encouraging women of all ages to stare down the fear factor and embrace change, she has heard from readers ages 20 to 83.
Her award-winning debut novel The Bridge Club was published in 2010.
Her second novel, The Promise of Provence is an Amazon Hot New Release as of April 2013.
Pop in to visit her at:
- You cannot resist a market in Provence (tastetravel.org)