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Picnic in Provence review

picnic in provence reviewPicnic in Provence by Elizabeth Bard is a deliciously romantic, funny, foodie and fabulous read. The story of New Yorker Elizabeth’s life with her French husband is sweet but real with all the ups and downs of normal daily life in France – and in this case in Provence.

I haven’t read the Elizabeth’s first book, Lunch in Paris, a runaway best-seller about her foray into French life after meeting, falling in love and marrying a French man and moving to Paris.  It doesn’t matter, you don’t have to have read the first book to enjoy the second.

A short romantic holiday in Provence before their first baby arrives leads, like the best of stories, to a life changing decision for this charming, very much in love couple.  Elizabeth and husband Gwendal decide to leave the city of light and up sticks to a tiny town in the countryside of southern France. They fall head over heels in love with a little house that has a history. It sounds as though it is the perfect life, a fantasy life but what makes this so much more is the way Elizabeth writes and shares her life, her real life.

Living in Provence isn’t all sunshine and markets – but it is a big part of it and the descriptions of juicy fruit and veg, tender nougat and melons that are so ripe they weep take the reader straight to the heart of life in Provence.  Food is important to the French, french cuisine actually has UNESCO status – that’s how important it is. Elizabeth has thrown herself whole heartedly into the  gastronomic ethos of her adopted country. She is fascinated by the tastes, the history, the traditions of cooking and you can’t help but be swept up by her delicious descriptions and think “mmm I’d like to eat some of that right now”. Well, you’re in luck because at the end of each chapter are recipes – easy to understand ones that even a flop chef like me can follow!

Elizabeth writes as if she’s talking to a friend, about her anxieties, her joys, the things she sees, hears, smells – Provence comes vividly alive in her narration. She’s like you and me, she questions whether she’ll be a good mother, she occasionally  upsets people and stresses over it, she wonders if they’ve done the wrong thing chucking in lives where they had jobs and a steady income. She has ideas and worries if they’re stupid – like opening an ice cream shop in Provence! It’s a brilliant idea you want to say and thankfully Elizabeth and Gwendal go with it and throw themselves into the hard work of not just changing Paris for Provence  but of changing careers too.

It’s a great read, inspiring, enticing and captivating…

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