Author: Karin Crilly

Publisher: Karin Crilly

ISBN: 9781530473724

    Finding Oneself in France

If you like accounts of travel in foreign lands, you’re going to love this one. This debut by the author is full of warmth, candour and wit. But most of all, this memoir has been written by someone deeply in love with life in general, and France in particular. Besides, this memoir has been written by one who can extract the appropriate lessons from life’s vicissitudes as well, an adept at making lemons into lemonade.

This was not the author’s first visit to France. She had come to Paris, some thirty odd years ago, accompanied by her much loved husband, Bill. After retirement as a psychiatrist, the author had intended to return with her husband. Tragically, Bill passed away due to complications arising out of Parkinson’s Disease. The author determined, however, as part of an exercise in healing, to travel to Aix -en- Provence and live there for a year. This stay was to be extended by another year, as the author embarked on a new project, viz., the writing of this book.

So we see the author preparing to leave for her extended stay in Provence. We see her leasing her furnished apartment, appearing for the interview required for a long-term visa and disposing herself of most of her possessions. Then we see her embarking on the trip that had taken so much planning, her daughter Vicky by her side.

Once in Provence, the author describes the involved bureaucratic process in France required to hire  an apartment, her interaction with the locals in Aix-en-Provence and her attempts to learn the language and culinary traditions of the new country. Each chapter in this book is augmented by a recipe, specific to the same.

Further, the author describes her interaction with expatriates from other countries and the group activities they shared, an important example being a game called petanque. She also mentions some fleeting romantic encounters with one of them, on an expedition to nearby villages along the Mediterranean.

My personal favorite is the account of the Swedish ceremony of Santa Lucia at the Cathedral Saint- Saveur. Another very readable account is the story of how she spent Christmas with a friend and her family in Paris, to be joined soon after by her daughter Wendy and Mitch. The memories of her husband that welled up make this chapter very poignant reading.

Finally, the author mentions the “blue satin nightgown” that she bought with the intention to use on a romantic encounter after the first three dates. Instead of romantic encounters, the nightgown came to symbolize the self-actualization of this entire trip, culminating in the writing of this book.

This book is a joy to read. The narration is fast paced and feather light. Yet difficult situations are not glossed over and the overall texture is like a fine French pastry, light and fluffy, making you want more of the same.

Warmly recommended, especially to all Francophiles.