I came to Carol Drinkwater’s account of her life when she purchased a ramshackle home in Provence in the south of France after I’d bought my own wreck in the north of France. I do think though that after reading The Olive Farm and The Olive Season, the first two books in a series of six known internationally as The Olive Series – this is a good thing. My original choice for moving to the north was for ease of travel to London but I have fallen in love with the Nord-Pas de Calais region and nothing would induce me to leave… except maybe to live where Carol Drinkwater lives!
The Olive series are Carol Drinkwater’s accounts of her life after she meets a new man and buys a house in France. Carol and Michel are at the early stages of their love affair and both fall head over heels for “Appassionata” the abandoned farm house with its olive farm. Together they restore it and farm the olives; Carol takes on a new French family, Michel’s daughters, and the book follows the couple’s rite of passage to become part of the community and learn how to farm the olives. Through good times and bad, Carol is nothing if not honest, a really endearing quality and I found myself genuinely routing for her and not begrudging her at all the fabulous house and lifestyle.
Her descriptions of her home, the olive orchards, the coast, towns and sights that she sees are utterly delicious, full of little snippets that bring the area alive for the reader. I read it when there was snow on the ground and it was the middle of winter and was transported to somewhere much warmer. I drank in the descriptions of blue skies, beautiful beaches and the sounds of summer! I could imagine the delicious dishes, the chilled wine, the scent of lavender and the cool of a stone building on a hot day as Carol explores her new home and she is a lady who has great curiosity so we get to learn a lot more about Provence than you’d expect – you get to know Carol’s Provence. Full of anecdotes about the history of the area, the people of the area – both past and present, the characters she meets along the way, and through it all Carol’s own story.
The book is a celebration of love, life and overcoming problems. Carol is open in admitting that there is a lack of money to do all the things that need to be done to make the house a home, to make the olive farm a working option. She must carry on her work as an actress and Michel must carry on working in Paris – at least for a while. This is not a story of the easy option, a dream life, it’s an emotional journey and Carol shares it with the reader – at times funny, at other times full of sadness and pathos but throughout it all Carol and Michel grow ever more in love with each other and with their new home.
Full of long, luxurious and lyrical descriptions that paint a vivid picture of life in Provence, the colours, sights, scents and sounds – reading this you will be carried away to Provence through a page… and I am not the least bit surprised that the series are so globally popular – a fabulous read.
As well as the Olive series there is also a beautiful illustrated companion book, you can order a signed copy from Carol’s website.
Read our interview with the lovely Carol Drinkwater.
See the winter warmer recipe Carol Drinkwater’s shared with us.