When, out of the blue, I received a message from the American Library in Paris informing me that my book had been nominated for their prestigious book prize awards, you could have knocked me down with one of my chicken’s feathers!
Now before I go any further, let me tell you I didn’t win. I never expected to. The American Library in Paris book awards are very highbrow and tend towards the ‘intellectual bent’ as they put it. I was up against tomes on Napoleon, Lafayette and Robespierre and some of the best names in literature.
It’s possible that my stories of life in the middle of nowhere rural France aren’t as scholarly as some books on the list. I write about my 30 chickens who have unusual names like Zsa Zsa Gabor (very, very bossy), Barbra Streisand (on account of her clucking sounding just like “I am a woman in love”) and handsome cockerels George Clooney and Brad Pitt. I tell tales of Bread Man, a philosophical delivery driver who ruins my plans to diet with his tempting cakes and pastries. I reveal all about my rucking ducks, including Mel Gibson and Rocky who spend most of the day glaring menacingly at each other through the fence that is required to separate them and quacking “you want some?” to each other. And I write about the traditions, heritage and sometimes quirky way of life in a very rural part of northern France in a village with no shops or bars where the people have sunshine in their hearts.
Nevertheless, my book – Toujours la France: Living the Dream in Rural France was one of just a handful of books for the year 2022 to be accepted for submission to the judges. And I am thrilled. To whoever nominated me – thank you very much!
By the way, the title of this post is a joke – there is no way I am going to eat my chickens, even if I didn’t win! I did try once. When I first came to France many moons ago I took in a baby chicken that was challenged in the looks departments as chickens go. Very gangly and with drab feathers. She did though have a rather outstanding physique. We called her Eaglet. She rapidly outgrew her sisters and stood so tall I considered entering her for the Guinness Book of Records “biggest chicken” category. Imagine my surprise then when she started cock-a-doodle-doo-ing while I was pegging out the washing one day.
Of course I had made a rookie error. She was a he though he did attempt each day to lay an egg just as the rest of the gang did. And he had impeccable manners as far as they were concerned, never bothered the girls at all unlike his successor Roger Moore who certainly lived up to his name. We loved Eaglet dearly. One sad day he fell out of the coop and broke his leg. Distressed and in pain, we put him out of his misery. We convinced ourselves his life should not be in vain and we prepared coq au vin. It smelled delicious. It looked delicious. We couldn’t do it. All we could think of was that Eaglet was our pet. I guess you can take the slicker out of the city but you can’t lead it to water…
Janine Marsh is Author of My Good Life in France: In Pursuit of the Rural Dream, My Four Seasons in France: A Year of the Good Life and Toujours La France: Living the Dream in Rural France:
AMAZON UNIVERSAL LINK: smarturl.it/ToujourslaFrance
AMAZON UK LINK: www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B09S3WPJ61
AMAZON .COM LINK: www.amazon.com/dp/B09S3WPJ61
All are available as ebook, print & audio, on Amazon & all good bookshops.