Let’s go to Provence for a visit!
My guest today is author 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 travel, 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 (men too!) ages 20 to 83. Her award-winning debut novel The Bridge Club was published in 2010 and her second novel, The Promise of Provence was an Amazon Hot New Release in April 2013 and a USA Best Book 2013 Finalist. She returned to France in September 2013, for a month to research her next novel, due for release in 2014. In June 2014 she will lead two 11-day tours of the south of France, based on her last novel, for 14 women with the Women’s Travel Network.
Find out more at Patricia’s Facebook Author Page, Amazon Author Page or her blog where there are links to her books, social media, and monthly newsletter that has special giveaways and sneak peeks at her next book. She would love to hear from you!
From her book, The Promise of Provence, here is an excerpt showing a turning point in the story:
Suddenly on her own in her mid-fifties, Katherine Price steps out of her comfort zone and goes on a home exchange to Provence. In this excerpt, she has just picked up her rental car after taking the train from Paris to Avignon. Little does she know that her life will begin again in ways she could never have imagined.
Starting the car, she pulled onto the road with a lurch as she changed gears. She was overcome for a moment with memories of her dad teaching her to drive a stick shift. He had been so patient with her.
Once you learn to drive a manual transmission you don’t forget, she heard his words, smiling as she sailed smoothly along after she awkwardly finished the necessary gear shifting.
Leaving the more urban area, Katherine encountered her first challenge: roundabouts. Ronds-points, she reminded herself. Think in French here!
Holding her breath, she entered as confidently as possible and as the GPS directed made a left at the second exit. The vehicles already circling have the right of way, she had read. After a few more, Katherine felt she had them mastered.
Oops, perhaps not, she muttered as she found herself not quite sure of her exit in a later one. Shifting gears hesitantly and going around a second time, someone swerved in front on her right, cutting off her exit, and around she went again.
Oh brother, I’m having a Griswold moment, she sighed, remembering European Vacation, which she had watched with her nephews and niece many times.
Gripping the wheel, she took a deep breath as she swerved quickly, counted to the third exit, and veered off onto it.
Maybe I do need a bit more experience, she conceded, for a moment unsure whether to laugh or cry.
The roads gradually became narrower and less busy which allowed her to take a longer look at the pastoral countryside. As she rounded a corner, cresting a small hill, she suddenly pulled the car to the side of the road and burst into tears.
In front of her was a postcard scene from Provence in June. An enormous field of golden sunflowers glistened with an intensity that was hard to believe, as if someone had plastered a Visit Provence poster smack in her face.
To one side was the classic mas, with its outbuildings, the shades of the yellow-gray limestone farm structures softened by the mid-afternoon sun. Traditional weathered blue shutters on the south facing windows and doors were flung open on this fine day. It was a scene Katherine had admired in so many books and movies. She couldn’t begin to count the number of images exactly like this that had filled her computer screen in the past month.
And now there it was.
And there she was, overwhelmed by the moment.
She stepped out of the car and hollered at the top of her lungs, “I’m here. I’ve done it! Je suis arrivée!”
Grabbing her camera, she let the lens caress the fields, buildings, and sky, knowing this was just the beginning. The pleasure of composing each shot was like eating a divine piece of chocolate. She could almost taste it.
Katherine leaned against the hood of the Citroën letting the reality sink in. Not simply the scenery but the truth of it all: she was in France, of her own doing, by herself. The “by herself” part at this moment felt a bit raw. She felt as if she were on a precipice, unsure of what was coming next in her life. But it wasn’t danger or fear that she was experiencing. Rather there was a sense of excitement and an urge to quickly proceed to see what lay ahead.
I’ll deal with being alone. I can do it. This adventure is full on, she thought as she settled back into the car. Pulling off the grassy shoulder, she grinned, thinking, I can’t wait to see what happens farther down the road—in more ways than one.
Then she laughed out loud.