My Four Seasons in France: A Year of the Good Life
By Janine Marsh
(255 pages, nonfiction memoir, 2020)
Janine Marsh and her husband Mark live in London and have good jobs there. They visit France one rainy day, on a day trip to buy some wine, and on a whim decide to look at some houses. They really can’t afford one, and aren’t in the market for a house. But the estate agent gives them a list of the cheapest three properties and they decide to take a look. The first two are horribly run-down. The third, a farmhouse, is really run-down as well, but Janine falls in love with it. She had never dreamed of owning a house in France, but suddenly she knew that this ramshackle building could be made into a home again and that they were the couple to do it.
She had been hit by a coup de foudre – a lightning bolt, or love at first sight. For the next 10 years, she and her husband work to restore this dilapidated house, and add a menagerie of dogs, stray cats, chickens, ducks and ducklings to their household. They are enchanted with the countryside, and the little village. They get to know the quirky villagers. Janine describes their setbacks and the drudgery. But she also tells of the joys of going to small towns, to street markets, the brocantes (flea markets), the seaside, and their trips to Mont Saint-Michel and Paris.
Janine and Mark are both very hard working, and Janine is funny and self-effacing. She describes meals of delicious food and wine. She starts writing a blog, and now has a website, thegoodlifefrance.com, if you want to know more about their story and the area. In this memoir, My Four Seasons in France, Janine chronicles a year of their lives as happy expat Brits living in a small village in the Seven Valleys region of France. If you need a bit of armchair travel to a lovely rural region in France, this charming book is the one to read!
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