Newsletter May 24

Hello from the Olive Farm where it is threatening to rain again and the clouds are dark. It is May and that means the Cannes Film Festival, which kicked off the day before yesterday. It was opened by Juliette Binoche and Meryl Streep who was honoured with a much-deserved Lifetime Achievement Award. In her speech, Meryl spoke of her first visit here when she was almost forty. At that time, she believed that her career was over because for women in film there is no life after forty.

It is changing, slowly, of course, but it was heartening to hear a woman at the forefront of our industry sharing this worry. To fear that age will stop us from working, that we will no longer be chosen, that our stories are not of interest to the public. It is changing, but it takes work. We need to be writing stories about women who have lived, who have been rejected, hurt, been mothers, not been mothers etc. Older women are not invisible!

Mon Chapeau, Meryl! Thank you for speaking up for us all.

Yesterday, I handed in the edited draft of my latest novel, One Summer in Provence, which will be published next summer. It seems so far ahead, so long to wait, but that is publishing. The wheels turn so much more slowly than in television or film. Coincidentally, at its heart is a sixty-something actress whose career has stopped, for various reasons. So, a subject that is being spoken about. Even by Meryl!

Obviously there is much more to the story and I will talk more about the novel as we draw closer to publication. It has been very slow to reach this stage. I am not quite sure why, but after I finished shooting Carol Drinkwater’s Secret Provence for Channel 5, I took some time out for the first time in my adult life. It seems to have taken me longer than I had anticipated to step back into the flow.

By the way, thank you to all who have watched or are watching CD’s Secret Provence. I receive emails on a daily basis from viewers in various corners of the world. I am amazed at how this little show has travelled, so a huge thank you for tuning in to it.

So now I will take a breath for a few days, and spend my time in Cannes watching films. Aside from that I will work on the synopsis for my next novel and I will potter about on the land. Last year, the drought we lived through was so severe that I lost most of the apple trees I planted after my father died. He loved apples and it has quite broken my heart to see the terrace of twelve trees, thirty years old, reduced to two. This year, by contrast, it doesn’t seem to have stopped raining. I have been very grateful for the recharge of water, but now it could stop! Everything has shot up. I have been walking through wildflowers on the terraces that are waist high. The butterflies, bees, pollinators are gorging on their delights. The land really does feel to be alive, which is joyous to experience. I love standing still and just listening, feeling its rhythms and hearing the birds calling. The swallows have been here but seem to have flown on northwards.

I missed the Aurora Borealis. Did you see it? The news this morning predicts that due to more changes in weather patterns, it might be visible again so this time I will do my utmost to see it. We have no big land projects on the go at present. For the weekend of midsummer – June 21st to 23rd  – we are throwing a big summer family party but that will be held in the garden of our Mad Old Chateau outside Paris – easier for guests to get to than down here. So, I am hugely looking forward to that.

As I write, the olive trees are a MASS of small white flowers so that bodes well for a bumper harvest. Of course, any extreme weather change could upset that but fingers crossed we will be calling friends to come and help us pick all those olives. Meanwhile, I am reading Colm Toibin’s Brooklyn in readiness for Long Island, the sequel, which is to be published late next week.

My recent reading has included Rose Tremain’s lovely Absolutely and Forever, a couple of Agatha Christie novels and John Le Carré and a re-read of The Talented Mister Ripley after watching the Netflix eight-part adaptation starring Andrew Scott.

I am also reading in French, the latest work from the Nobel Laureate J.M.G Le Clézio. Its title is Indentité Nomade. The other works of his I have read in English but I decided to be brave this time and immerse myself in the French. He is a fabulous writer, epic and compassionate.

While I have been writing this the sun has come out – hooray! – and I have received an email from the Festival of Cannes – dozens are sent out throughout each day – to say that Richard Gere is arriving. (I am a great fan.) So, off I go. A few days of film-watching are to be enjoyed.

Enjoy the rest of May. Be well, take good care of yourselves, our world is hard to listen to these days. I prefer to tune in to Nature.

Thank you for being here and reading this.



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