I have just discovered another wonderful blog and website due my daily Beattie read (http://www.adventuresinitaly.net). He mentions Antonia and her daughters by Marlena De Blasi – sub-titled secrets, love, friendship and family in Tuscany (from the author of A Thousand Days in Venice, Tuscan Secrets and others) -sound like my kind of books, so I did a little search on Marlena De Blasi and as luck would have it, it lead me to the blog for Adventures in Italy – http://makehasteslowly.wordpress.com/ so informative – thank you Mr Beattie!
Beattie keeps making me buy wonderful books either about France or set in France … now look what he has found for me: a lovely looking book called French Ties by Jane Webster ( and she has a blog at http://www.thefrenchtable.com.au/)
And then there is this historical novel set in France by Fiona McIntosh:
Not sure when I will find time to read them – maybe on the plane ….. meanwhile am very much enjoying Barbara Taylor- Ace’s My French Affair. It set in the the part of France we loved near Aix-en-Provence – this photo below is taken when we were in Nimes-wondeful backdrop for a lovely drop of wine:
to be posting on my blog from France (starting in Nice) and Italy. But in the meantime I have to be content with reading about them. A couple of nice easy reads to set the scene are by Nicky Pellegrino, a respected author and reviewer – she has an Italian heritage but lives in New Zealand. I really enjoy her fiction stories which are coloured by her memories of Italy. Light, easy to read, but authentic. Try Italian Wedding, Recipe for Life and Villa Girls. I prefer the first two but they are all good reads. You can see more about Nicky here : http://www.nickypellegrino.com/. I have also just bought New Zealand writer Sarah-Kate Lynch’s book Dolci di Love, which is set in Tuscany and which Nicky reviewed and enjoyed: http://www.nzherald.co.nz/books/news/article.cfm?c_id=134&objectid=10709465
As far as non-fiction goes, of course I have worked my way through Frances Mayes’ books and can’t wait to visit Cortona – Under the Tuscan Sun is a favourite as is Bella Tuscany and the more recent Every Day in Tuscany : Seasons of an Italian Life, plus the beautiful book she produced with husband Ed – In Tuscany.
Recently, courtesy of one our lecturers, I was introduced to the novels of Donna Leon, which are set in Venice, and have to say I am enjoying them – Girl of his Dreams and Friends in High Places in particular.
Favourite non-fiction titles are Peter Ackroyd’s Venice and a beautiful little book I happened upon called the Piazzas of Florence by Lisa McGarry. This small book is a mine of information, has great fold-out maps and exquisite descriptions – it will coming with me to Florence.
Now it is time to start reading up on Rome…. looking forward to Nicky Pellegrino’s new book due in June (just in time hopefully) called When In Rome.
Here is an interesting post on one of the blogs I follow…http://www.eurocheapo.com/blog/paris-the-guide-to-moving-to-france.html. Not that I am moving there, but the book Living in France by Aurelia d’Andrea could be a good read.
Just bought another newly released book on living in France by a New Zealander : My French Affair by Amanda Taylor-Ace : http://www.fishpond.co.nz/Books/My-French-Affair-Amanda-Taylor-Ace-Ann-Rickard-With/9781869797805 and today I finished a great read ” Lunch in Paris” by Elizabeth Bard – interesting comments on how French woman stay so slim! http://www.hachettebookgroup.com/books_9780316042796.htm. Good recipes too!
This is where I would love to live – Isle-sur-la-Sorgue – beautiful! – was here 5 years ago….and just can’t wait to go back to the South of France – only 6 weeks and counting.
I am a self confessed francophile and after a lovely Easter Sunday family morning tea and easter egg hunt, I am now flicking through my list of must read books on France, as we will be in Southern France at the end of May – I think it helps to get a feel for a place if you read a little about it before you go – both with regard to its history and the present day.
If you are going to France for the first time, a great book to start with is by Englishwoman Lucy Wadham. She writes honestly about her adopted homeland in The Secret Life of France (Faber 2009). As it was published after we returned, I had to read it post-trip but I think it would be useful to read prior – it is a candid, funny and often quite surprising read, and hugely informative. I am certainly glad that I have read it now that I am returning.
Another book I found really helpful before we went on our France-Bike self guided tour of Provence in 2007, was French Toast (Penguin 2006), by New Zealander Peta Mathias – Peta is a television presenter and food writer. My husband and I both enjoy her quirkiness, sense of style and tremendous joie de vivre. The subtitle “eating and laughing your way around France” is a pretty good indication of the tone of the book. It has a chapter on Provence and recipes too.
2007 was my first time in France, though I had been longing to visit since I started learning French at high school. Paris was our first stop and oh yes, it is true what they say about French women, they have that effortless chic that I guess we would all love to have. I have never seen white linen pants worn so well by so many women….. if you want to read more about French style then have a look as this book I came across last year: Parisian Chic by Ines de la Fressange (Flammarion 2011)….I must study it again before we hit Nice!
If you want to read more about the bike tour we did, go to: http://www.france-bike.com/provence_luberon.0.html?&L=1. You can see the review there by a couple of New Zealanders (i.e. me).
Here is a photo of a feat of truly amazing engineering- I would never have known I could feel so truly awestuck by large slabs of stone… the Pont du Gard:
Well here we go, my first post – a work in progress but at least it’s a start. This time five years ago we were preparing for our self-guided cycling trip in Southern Provence – I can still remember the excitement building in anticipation of a very new adventure for us – and what a great adventure it was!
Now that feeling is back – Italy here we come …. and I have a friend’s blog to follow and whet my appetite http://acleinitaly2012.blogspot.co.nz/