Alison Morton is an expat from the UK who moved to the lovely city of Thouars, Deux-Sevres, Poitou-Charentes, in May 2010. She is an author who has many published works, from factual historical information to the acclaimed alternate history fiction Inceptio and Perfiditas. Reporter Donna Faulkner met up with her to find out what had inspired her to move to France…
Alison’s love for France and for history came from her parents who took her on many trips across Europe as a child, visiting France, Italy and Spain. The young Alison played with other children on campsites and places that the family stayed and soon wanted to learn some words and language to fit in. Her mother helped as much as she could but Alison wanted to know more and soon started studying languages. She has been a ‘wordsmith’ as she calls herself since the age of 7 when she wrote her first play. Now she has a BA in modern languages, a post graduate diploma in Translation and a MA in history, as well as being a member of the Chartered Guild of Linguists – and her love for France is still strong.
Alison and her husband have visited many different parts of France; they have taken numerous camping trips as a way to see the country and consider areas where they may like to settle. However both had heavy work commitments in the UK and for a long while they thought the move might never happen. In the UK Alison worked as a professional French – English translator who ran her own large translation business specialising in legal translation. But fate intervened and when her husband’s workplace closed, a life changing decision could be made. The pair decided they would grab the bull by the horns and move to France!
So what made them choose their home in Thouars?
The couple live in a modern home that was built in the 1970’s and when they saw it they both fell in love with different aspects of it, namely the sous sol (basement) – which is huge – and the garden. As the house was not in need of renovation it was a blank canvas that could be moulded to fit their needs. But to put a personal stamp on it they had to start with the basics and for a while, it felt a bit like a glorified camping experience.
Now of course it is a comfortable home and Alison enjoys the peace and quiet of the area when she is writing. Her acclaimed fiction work came from a chance viewing of a film in the cinema, where the cinematography was good but the story was poorly written. Watching it she mentioned to her husband that she could do better than that. “Why don’t you?” came her husband’s reply.
Three months later, the first draft of Inceptio was written. Alison’s books are based on a premise that is not often seen in everyday fiction which gives it a fresh approach. The principle is one of ‘what if’, what if the course of history was different? Rome didn’t fall and went on to be a major world power and what if women had become the leaders of society.
Thouars is not on the very well-trod tourist destination route but it is a very pretty (4 flower Ville Fleurie grade) and is an interesting town with the highest number of listed buildings per inhabitants in the region. Thouars’ Centre Régional Résistance et Liberté has the largest collection of wartime exhibitions in the region; there is a superb example of a water turbine mill dating from 1875 – in full working condition and now a museum, and the town is famous for its market, one of the biggest in the region attracting thousands every week (Tuesday and Friday mornings). There are lots of ancient buildings, winding streets and chateaux in the area which make it well worth a visit.
Alison and her husband help organise social groups for English and French people and get involved in the local life in their town. Alison is even standing as a town councillor in the upcoming local elections and with fluent language skills has integrated perfectly into French life.
For these two expats in France, Thouars proved to be the perfect choice to start their new life and there is nowhere else they’d rather be.