How often have you eaten a mushroom that you picked yourself that morning? Or sat on a boat opening and eating oysters as you lift them from the sea? Or partaken of a seven course feast of game to celebrate the success of the chasse? When Patricia Atkinson - bestselling author of "The Ripening Sun" - first moved to France, her intention was simply to establish a vineyard. Over the years, however, she found herself becoming integrated into a way of life that, had she stayed in England, she would hardly have believed existed. Grounded in the rhythms of the land and the seasons, daily life in Patricia's south-western corner of France is dictated by a series of rituals and celebrations that we have long lost in our supermarket age. "La Belle Saison" is Patricia's eulogy to this way of life: a testament to the timelessness of the beautiful French countryside, the bounty of the land, and the generous-hearted French neighbours who showed Patricia that a simple life has many rewards. In France, every season is 'la belle saison', offering up its gifts to those willing to appreciate and look after the land.
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(198mm x 129mm x 19mm)
Arrow Books Ltd
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US Kirkus Review »
A midlife memoir that doesn't measure up to other recent women-living-a-European-fantasy books, lacking both Frances Mayes's passion and Marlena de Blasi's love of language - not to mention a story.Atkinson (The Ripening Sun, not reviewed) acquired a life many can only dream about when she and her husband (both Brits) bought a vineyard in France. The marriage fizzled, and hubby moved back to England, but she stayed on, making a go of the grapes. In this peek at her new life, she delivers charming (if also tedious) scenes of rustic living, musings that never delve deep into her own psyche. Atkinson includes interesting discussions of the wine-making process, mouthwatering descriptions of Gallic cuisine and portraits of her eccentric friends and neighbors. Interleaved throughout is the account of her relationship with Fidde, an amiable man from Switzerland she met through friends. Taken with Atkinson, Fidde treated her to dinner, then found every available excuse for coming to France. Eventually, he bought some property and settled down near his new friend. Though the author devotes considerable space to her various dates with Fidde, she never manages to convey the texture of their relationship, which was cut short when he died shortly after his move to France. Atkinson fails to demonstrate the power of this personal loss, which feels a tad anticlimactic and may leave readers wondering why they slogged through so many long asides about the man."Fidde told me that real freedom comes when you know yourself" - one of the many cliches trying to pass for insight here. (Kirkus Reviews)
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Author Biography - Patricia Atkinson
Patricia Atkinson has lived in south-western France for 15 years, having left her city job to work in the vineyards. Her first book, The Ripening Sun, describes her transition from novice amateur to expert, award-winning winemaker.