How Blue is my Valley
'Laugh out loud ... this autobiography from Welsh writer and photographer Jean Gill tells the tale of her first year in Provence - complete with challenging situations and thought-provoking musings. Jean takes readers on a tour of the beautiful Drome area, painting such a vivid picture of the fields of lavender, sunflowers and olive trees that you could almost be there with her.' - Living France Magazine The true scents of Provence? Lavender, thyme and septic tank. Discover the real Provence in good company. There are hundreds of interesting things you can do in a bath but washing dishes is not one of them, nor what writer Jean Gill had in mind when she swopped her Welsh Valley for a French one.
Keen to move out of the elephant's stomach, that stew of grey mists called weather in Wales, she offered her swimming certificate to a bemused Provencale estate agent and bought a house with good stars and its own spring-water. Or rather, as it turns out, a neighbour's spring-water that is the only supply to the kitchen, which, according to the nice men from the Water Board, is emptying its dirty water directly and illegally onto the main road... and there's worse ...
But how can you resist a village called Dieulefit, `God created it', the village 'where everyone belongs'.
Watch the trailer youtube.com/watch?v=o_Rrn4CGw5A
Take a look again at the cover of this book. Isn’t it a lovely, standout display? It drew me in and called to me to read this book. The title is similar to a popular Welsh book and film from 70 years ago, so I wondered if there would be a connection to Wales. Yes, there is. And the cover shows field of lavender, so I wondered if there would be a link to Provence, France. Yes, again.
Author Jean Gill writes about her move from Wales to Dieulefit, France. The town name means “God made it”, and it is located in southeastern France about an hour from the Alps.
As the author tells us, “This is a good place to live and a good place to grow old.”
Ms. Gill is a writer who can create a lovely phrase. This is how she describes a rainy day, “We listen to the orchestral performance on the house instruments, the clay tiled roof, the metal shutters, gutters and drainpipes.” She also writes with humor and insight.
However, she does not always write in a way that is easy to follow. I would describe this book as a series of vignettes. A vignette is “a brief story or a small image that fades into the background without a definite border.” I would say that this is what happens in this book, one beautiful written image gives way to another without any border or structure to hold it together.
I enjoyed reading about the town’s famous goat cheese, and olive oil and the market days and fete days. It was fun to hear about the language difficulties and the visit from a baby. I liked the descriptions of the author’s gardens –the 100-year old wisteria, the sunflowers, daffodils and the nearby fields of lavender. She described the birds with care, “goldfinches, swifts, house martins. Long legged egrets that look like teachers on hall duty.”
But I wasn’t keen about the stories of their septic tank, or house renovations that were hard to follow. I also would have appreciated reading more about why the author and her husband moved, more about each of their personalities and more solid descriptions of the house and town. This would have centered me in the swirl of stories.
There were many pleasant tales in this book. Overall, I gave it a blue bookworm, because I think that Americans will have some trouble keeping up with the British words and references, and style of writing. If you are British, then this well may be a gold bookworm story for you.
I want to thank Author Gill for sharing her memories about moving to a new land. I believe the author has also written a book about French cheese, which sounds appealing. The author ends her book with this enticement, “Anyone who reviews one of my books can have his/her dog featured in the Hall of Fame on my website.”