This comes so late! I meant to write this Newsletter almost a month ago. I apologise for the delay. My only excuse is that I have been so busy.
Thanksgiving has just been celebrated by all our American friends, Black Friday has been studiously avoided by us and we are now looking at the last days of November. It is a cliché to say that I don’t know where this year has gone, but it has certainly flashed by. Most of the year has been taken up with the series I filmed for Channel 5 UK, Carol Drinkwater’s Secret Provence. The last episode was transmitted a week ago. If you missed it or don’t have access to UK terrestrial television, all six episodes are available on Youtube or they can be found on Channel 5 Catchup.
We had some great times shooting the series as well as a few challenging days, but the feedback has been terrific and the hard work all seems to have been worthwhile. I have been left with many uplifting memories. I made new friends and I was able to reconnect with others whom I have not had time to visit in a long while.
To all those of you who have written to me after watching the TV shows, a huge thank you. If you haven’t received a message back yet, I promise I am answering as many mails every day as I can. PLEASE make sure you give me the correct email details because sometimes the mails bounce back and there is nothing I can do to find the correct address. I feel sad when this happens, worrying that one or two of you out there are thinking that I have not bothered to reply. I always do.
This year also saw the publication of An Act of Love, which is my first historical novel for adults. I have written in the past for the young adult market (9 to 13 year olds). These stories have been published by Scholastic, but this is the first time I have dedicated an entire adult novel to a particular historical period. An Act of Love is a love story on many levels set in the south of France during the later years of WWII. The novel has been receiving astounding reviews and I have been sent many letters from readers. If you haven’t yet read it, as I write, it is available on Amazon UK for 99p, which has to be a bargain!
Talking of bargains, The Forgotten Summer, another of my novels published by Penguin has been chosen as one of Amazon’s December special deals/books of the month and will also be sold as a Kindle ebook for the entire month of December at the princely price of 99p! Treat yourself for Christmas. It will transport you to a beautiful vineyard here in the south of France.
What have I been reading?
During filming, I indulged myself in another couple of Georges Simenon’s marvellous Maigret tales. (I aim to read them all before I die!), Sally Rooney’s Beautiful World, Where Are You, Stephen King’s excellent Billy Summers, Anthony Doerr’s Four Seasons in Rome (I lived in Rome for a short while in my twenties. Doerr’s non-fiction work transported me right back there!) Lawrence Durrel’s Spirit of Place, which is full of Mediterranean delights.
At present I am working my way through Herodotus’s Histories for the first time alongside a re-read of Michael Ondaatje’s masterful The English Patient.
On my TBR list is Doerr’s newest novel Cloud Cuckoo Land and a novel published a little while ago by my friend, Kate Lord Brown, The Perfume Garden. Kate has just sent me a copy. An early Christmas present! It has such an enticing jacket, don’t you think?
Our olive crop was small this year but we have produced some excellent oil so we are very grateful for the gift of that. The harvest was filmed for the CH 5 TV series. If you are watching the shows you will be able to follow the process along with us here on the farm, as we lay the nets, collect the fruits by hand before I deliver them to the mill for the pressing and then return home for the joyful moment of tasting our fresh young oil with friends and family.
So, what lies ahead ? A new novel is top of my list. I started work on this next one before the television series was confirmed. It was set aside for the summer and autumn but has continued to bubble away inside me and now I want to give it voice. It is also set down here on the Riviera coast. With luck and plenty of hard work, I will be delivering it early summer next year. So watch this space !
We are going to be spending Christmas and New Year here at the farm, a quiet time together, which both of us are in need of. A few friends and family to visit and one or two short excursions ourselves, trying to keep safe and well and out of the reach of this wretched pandemic.
Before you start planting for the spring, please read this. It is some positive news for bees even if they still need us to protect them. An enlightening article.
So, I will sign off with greetings for those of you who are celebrating Hanukkah now and for the rest of us a very Merry Christmas or simply Happy Holidays. Good health, please, for all of us in 2022. In France we say, la santé avant tout. Health before everything else.
Thank you for reading this and for buying my books. I really appreciate it.