The First Noel at the Villa des Violettes – my thoughts

The first Noel at the Villa des Violettes

The First Noël At The Villa Des Violettes

(women’s fiction)

Release date: November 15, 2018

Self-published

ISBN: B07KDXZDGM

206 pages

Author’s page | Goodreads

Synopsis: THE LOVE IN PROVENCE CHARACTERS ARE BACK …

Everything was going so well in Kat and Philippe’s life together. Then suddenly it wasn’t.

Roman ruins delayed the work on the Villa desViolettes. The Russian drug gang might be back in the neighbourhood. On top of that, Kat had worked herself into what Molly classified as a full blown “Christmas conundrum.” Kat wanted the holidays to work perfectly as she blended a Canadian Christmas with a Provençal Fête de Noêl for the first time in their new home. Now she’d lost her confidence and, with it, the holiday spirit.

Philippe hoped a weekend trip to the famous Christmas markets of Strasbourg would solve everything. As it happened, things were about to get worse.

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My thoughts:

What a treat to revisit these characters for their first Fête de Noêl together! Patricia Sands writes beautiful descriptions of their home, their friends, their neighborhood, and their travels. It is like taking a little trip to France! This is the first of a trilogy of novellas with these characters and it is a treat t know that we will learn more about their lives together. To add to the experience, follow Patricia Sands on Instagram to see her photography from this area – Kat speaks of her photography shoots of doorways and Patricia will give you the visuals!

A nice little Christmas read. Thanks for bringing them back!


ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Canadian author Patricia Sands writes award-winning women’s fiction. Her best-selling ‘Love in Provence trilogy’ was drafted in the south of France, where she spends time each year.

The First Noël at the Villa des Violettes is the first in a new trilogy of novellas.

Connect with Patricia

“Freud’s Mistress” by Karen Mack & Jennifer Kaufman

Freud's Mistress

On Facebook I saw the post: “Do you love “The Paris Wife” and “Loving Frank” and have a blog?  If you do, get in touch.”

And because I do, I did.

It’s interesting to me that I think of myself as a purely Adult Fiction reader, rarely choosing a non-fiction book for pleasurable reading, yet those two books – and now this one – as fictionalized accounts of very non-fiction people and events, have become some of my favorites! 

“The Paris Wife” led me down the Hemingway rabbit hole; I watched the movies “The Sun Also Rises” and “Hemingway and Gilhorn,” I loved the Hemingway role in “Midnight in Paris,” I read “The Movable Feast,” and I listened to the author of “The Paris Wife talk about her research (click for my post about it).

“Loving Frank” led me to research his homes and to find three of them in Rochester and drive by them.  “The Women” (about the rest of the women in Wright’s life) is still in my TBR pile (thanks, Sarah!).  

And now, Freud.

This story starts in 1895.  Minna Bernays is employed as a lady’s companion or governess, in an attempt to support herself – an educated, single woman nearing 30 years old.  She cannot bear the treatment given to some of the employees in the household, so she gives all her money to help the young kitchen helper get to the doctor, buy her medicine, and then buy her a train ticket home to her family.  She then writes to her sister, Martha, and asks for help out of her unfavorable situation.  Martha insists she move in immediately, and so begins Minna’s life in the home of Dr. Sigmund Freud.

Minna is no stranger to the family; she and Freud had been corresponding for years.  She is fascinated by his intelligence and theories and he finds her to be a worthy listener.  She challenges him and he confides in her.  This story is about the relationship between Minna and Freud, which is filled with attraction and tension, jealousy and longing.  And that’s all I’m going to say about that.  It is a good book – so I think you should read it for yourself!

This book was an easy read with very engaging and well-written characters.  The authors have obviously done their homework – on Victorian homes and clothing, Freud’s relationships with his contemporaries, his obsession with ancient knick-knacks and cigars, and his relationship with his family.  Because of this book I found myself watching a Biography of Freud on the internet (click to see for yourself!).  I realized I knew NOTHING about the man and found his story fascinating.  For example:

Sigmund Freud, founder of psychoanalysis, smok...

Sigmund Freud, founder of psychoanalysis, smoking cigar. Español: Sigmund Freud, fundador del psicoanálisis, fumando. Česky: Zakladatel psychoanalýzy Sigmund Freud kouří doutník. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

  • He was raised Jewish, but didn’t believe in religion.
  • He wanted to be a researcher, but there was a quota on the number of Jewish people who could do research, so he went to medical school.
  • He “courted” his wife for five years and during that time wrote her 900 letters.  It is written that they would be worthy of being categorized as great love letters.  He wouldn’t marry her until he had some level of success.
  • He went into the study of neuroses because few people were studying mental illness at that time and he knew he could make his mark.
  • He had 6 children with Martha within 8 years – and then he became abstinent sexually in their marriage.  He felt that the only way to prevent neuroses was through unfettered sexual intercourse with your spouse and he didn’t want any more children, nor did he want to utilize birth control methods, because that would be fettering.  Goodness.
  • He was addicted to cigars, smoking 25-30 per DAY – even after his diagnosis of oral cancer which left him with a prosthetic jaw!
  • He was also addicted to his work, saying “A man like me cannot live without a hobby horse, a consuming passion, a tyrant.  I have found my tyrant, and in his service, I know no limits.  My tyrant is psychology.”
  • Through self-analysis, he “cured”himself of his travel phobia.  He also used to faint around “gifted male friends,” but he didn’t cure that.
  • He created a Wednesday Society of his avid followers; later he created a secret society made of his “band of disciples,” members wore rings.
  • He was seen as an “enemy of the people” by Hitler and his were among the first books burned during Hitler’s rise to power.
  • He thought that Hitler represented his worst fears of “darkness and psychosis,” yet he refused to leave his home in Vienna until his beloved daughter Anna was arrested.  He then agreed to leave and moved his family to London, where the Freud museum is now located.
  • He continued to see patients until he was on his death bed.  His cancer returned and was untreatable, so he took a lethal dose of morphine. He was 83.
  • His ashes are now kept in a vase from his vast collection of ancient artifacts.  He said he collected the ancient artifacts because he felt that he was “an archaeologist of the mind.”

Just as “The Paris Wife” gave me a sympathetic view of Hemingway, the man who is known as a cad throughout history, this story of “Freud’s Mistress” gives a different view of the man who is known to view women as inferior, due to their lack of a penis.  He is portrayed as obsessed with his work, but appreciative of the intellect of Minna.   On that note, I will close with one of the more famous quotes by Freud, as well as a response by Bill Cosby:

The great question that has never been answered, and which I have not yet been able to answer, despite my thirty years of research into the feminine soul, is ‘What does a woman want?’  Sigmund Freud

“Sigmund Freud once said, “What do women want?” The only thing I have learned in 52 years is that women want men to stop asking dumb questions like that.”  Bill Cosby

Another amusing take on trying to figure out women...

Another amusing take on trying to figure out women…

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tlc tour host

For more reviews of this book, see the other blogs on the tour!  I’ll post again about a giveaway so that you can read this book for yourself!

Monday, September 2nd: BookNAround

Monday, September 2nd: Peppermint PhD

Tuesday, September 3rd: The Lost Entwife

Wednesday, September 4th: Unabridged Chick

Friday, September 6th: Kritters Ramblings

Monday, September 9th: A Bookish Affair

Tuesday, September 10th: Books in the Burbs

Wednesday, September 11th: A Novel Review

Thursday, September 12th: A Chick Who Reads

Monday, September 16th: Read Lately

Monday, September 16th: Diary of a Stay at Home Mom

Tuesday, September 17th: WalkieTalkieBookClub

Wednesday, September 18th: Lectus

Friday, September 20th: Book-alicious Mama

Monday, September 23rd: My Bookshelf

Friday, September 27th: guiltless reading

Monday, September 30th: Lavish Bookshelf

Winner Winner, Chicken Dinner!

The scientific randomness of picking a name out of a hat means that Sarah is the winner of the e-book, The Promise of Provence!

Read my review of the book here, and click here or here to learn more about Words and Peace France Book Tours, which continue!

France book tour

France Boosk Tours

Next summer Patricia is taking a tour of Provence with 14 women, and boy is it tempting!
She’s fun to follow on Facebook and Twitter. A lot going on for her!

Enjoy the book, Sarah!  Happy reading!

France book tour

The Promise of Provence

 

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

Available on Amazon worldwide     USA   Canada   UK    FR and may be ordered at any bookstore.

********************************************************************************

Author bio:

Patricia Sands

Patricia Sands

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:

http://www.patriciasands.wordpress.com

http://www.patriciasandsauthor.com

Facebook https://www.facebook.com/patricia.sands.9

and https://www.facebook.com/AuthorPatriciaSands

Twitter https://twitter.com/patricia_sands

Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/4381348.Patricia_Sands

The Promise of Provence

France book tour

The Promise of Provence

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!

France book tour

France Boosk Tours

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.”

Thought this related

Thought this related

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…

English: Nomade sculpture by Jaume Plensa, tak...

English: Nomade sculpture by Jaume Plensa, taken in Antibes, Provence-alpes-cote d’Azur (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

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.

des moines sculpture garden

Plensa’s “Nomade” in Des Moines

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… ” 

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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

Available on Amazon worldwide     USA   Canada   UK    FR and may be ordered at any bookstore.

********************************************************************************

Author bio:

Patricia Sands

Patricia Sands

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:

http://www.patriciasands.wordpress.com

http://www.patriciasandsauthor.com

Facebook https://www.facebook.com/patricia.sands.9

and https://www.facebook.com/AuthorPatriciaSands

Twitter https://twitter.com/patricia_sands

Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/4381348.Patricia_Sands