Liza Perrat, author of The Bone Angel trilogy (Spirit of Lost Angels, Wolfsangel, Blood Rose Angel) and new release, The Silent Kookaburra.
What we thought: I might not be brave enough to renovate a run-down barn in rural France, but as an ex-pat living in a French village, I can totally relate to Janine Marsh’s book, My Good Life in France.
The author’s new life in France started out quite differently to most ex-pats though: whilst on one of her regular day trips to pick up cheap wine in northern France, she purchased an old barn in the rural Seven Valleys area of Pas de Calais. It seems no one was more surprised at this purchase than the author herself.
Her French adventure began as weekend trips to renovate her new home which lacked mains drainage, heating, proper rooms, and had not the slightest of comforts. It turned into a life-time project requiring far more time, money and energy than she could ever have imagined.
Several years ago, Janine eventually gave up her top corporate banking job in London to move with her husband to their still quite run-down French barn. In My Good Life in France, she narrates the true story of negotiating the local inhabitants, French bureaucracy, tradesmen, culture and etiquette. No easy feat for a born and bred British girl from the city!
I loved reading about all of her adventures: the good, the bad, the ugly. And the incredible, one of which resulted in the neighbours nicknaming her “Madame Merde”. I’ll let you read the story for yourself to find out why!
The author’s joy, frustration, enthusiasm and curiosity for her new homeland shines through as she recounts her experiences with humour, from administrative struggles to homesickness and personal tragedy, to her love for chickens and stray animals. And, finally, love for her life in France.
Towards the end of the book, Janine includes a lot of useful information for adapting to the French lifestyle and negotiating French rules –– both written and unwritten!
Highly recommended for Francophiles and anyone thinking of impulse-buying a run-down property in a region where it rains all the time.
You’ll like this if you enjoy: Humorous ex-pat stories, such as Peter Mayle’s A Year in Provence and the sequels: Toujours Provence and Encore Provence.
Avoid if you don’t like: tales of travel and home renovation.
Ideal accompaniments: Gratin de Maroilles aux lardons washed down with a cool glass of Chardonnay.
Genre: memoir, travel book.
Available on Amazon