Taking Root in Provence
Release Date: March 1, 2011 by Distinction Press
Genre: Non Fiction, Travelogue
Two expatriates left Washington DC in search of the ideal place to retire where climate, culture, accessibility and natural beauty all had a role to play. Curious about the vaunted quality of life in the south of France, they traveled the length and width of Provence where, preferring the city to the countryside, they decided to settle in the ancient town of Aix-en-Provence. That was in 1998 and Taking Root in Provence is the story of their slow integration into the French mainstream — both easier and more difficult than expected but ultimately successful.
In a series of vignettes Anne-Marie Simons gives us a warts-and-all picture of life among the French and with warmth and humor shares her lessons learned. Contrary to most publications about Provence, this book focuses on life in the city rather than the quiet countryside, and promises to be both informative and revealing to those who want to spend more than a passing holiday here. [From the author's website]
Anne-Marie Simons has worked as a translator, teacher, journalist, sportswriter (covering Formula 1 races), and director of corporate communications.
Her Argentine husband, Oscar, left a career in international development banking to become an expert on Provençal cooking and other local pleasures. [From the publisher’s website]
A green eyed monster will appear when you begin to read Taking Root in Provence. He is of course, jealousy and he grows larger and larger with every page.
Taking Root in Provence shares the journey of a couple who, blessed with early retirement, decide to settle in Europe and ultimately make their home in Aix-en-Provence. Unfortunately, the couple themselves remains rather remote and the reader learns little about them themselves and more about their experiences.
The tone of the book is factual and observational. At times it is difficult to remember that Taking Root in Provence it is the story of an actual couple's major life decision to move abroad, which one would imagine is wrought with all sorts of emotions that are never expressed within the book. Rather it is a description of the day to day life season after season for those living in Provence. The reader is provided with a wonderful description of seasonal life and the activities for those living, and visiting, the region.
Ultimately, Taking Root in Provence is about a move that became a love affair with Aix-en-Provence. If you know anything about the Provencal region of Southern France none of the descriptions are difficult to image. This is where the jealousy and envy come in, or at least they did for me, because the couple remained aloof and mysterious their relation of living in this idyllic spot was annoying at times and completely unapproachable. Nevertheless, it does give the reader a guide to the region for travel though through a very focused, unidentified lens.
And while the book is not bad it is just not enough for anyone outside of the author's close circle of friends to relate to and for this reader, having briefly traveled in the region I was left envious of people that remain a mystery to me. The magic of the book is the magic that is within Provence itself. It has that certain je nais se quois. Taking Root in Provence does not.