|The Summer of France|
Welcome to ‘France et Moi’ where this week I’m taking part in a virtual book tour organized by FranceBookTours to help give a shout out to THE SUMMER OF FRANCE by Paulita Kincer. I read this novel set in Provence earlier in the year and really enjoyed it, and you can read my review here. If you would like to enter a giveaway to win an ebook copy of this great summer read just email FrenchVillageDiaries@gmail.com with The Summer of France as the email subject. The winner will be the first name pulled out of a hat by my Mum over evening aperos on Tuedsay 2nd July (when she arrives here on holiday).
Today I’m talking to Paulita about what France means to her. Paulita has an M.A. in journalism from American University, has traveled to France 10 times, and still finds more to lure her back. She currently teaches college English and lives in Columbus, Ohio, with her three teenagers, two cats and one husband.
Firstly, I think France is a special place and it is famed for many things including its cheese, wine and diverse holiday locations plus, dare I say it strikes and dog poo littered streets. What do you think makes France so very unique and ‘French’?
Paulita: I’ve traveled to many different parts of France, and everywhere I go I fall for the lifestyle. I feel like I’m living in the moment when I’m in France, that each second is important: every sip of wine, every bite of food, every vivid-blue sky – not to mention the quintessential architecture and the depth of history in those charming cobblestones.
2) What is your first memory of a trip to France?
Paulita: Well, things didn’t work out so well on my first trip. I went on a college tour, one of those on a bus that visits 21 countries in 14 days, or 14 countries in 21 days. We arrived in Paris after Rome, and I had a bit of tummy trouble in Rome. I even missed the Pope!
So the first day in Paris, we went to Notre Dame and the Rome revenge continued. I had to find a bathroom – quick! The bathroom I found was a Turkish one. I stood with my feet on either side of the hole thinking, seriously? I began to believe France was not for me if the country couldn’t even provide civilized bathrooms. Luckily, experiences after that swayed me to give France another try. The next time I returned to France as an au pair for three months – one month in Corsica, another month in a country manor near Bourges and finally a month in an apartment outside Paris. Tough life, but…that trip won me over.
3) What is your favourite holiday location in France?
Paulita: I’m totally besotted by Aix en Provence. The minute I bicycle or drive into town, I feel all tension leave my body. I think I’d be content to sit in a café in Aix en Provence forever.
4) Do you speak French? If so at what level would you say you were?
Paulita: At one point, I was quite good at speaking French. I minored in it at university and, after my time as an au pair when I spent three months speaking French, I was fairly confident. I could understand and make myself understood. But now, years later, I’m barely passable. My French kicks in after a couple of days in the country, but French shopkeepers still quickly switch to English when they hear me speak.
5) France has many different cheeses, a silly question, but which French cheese are you? A hard and mature Tome, a soft, fresh and lively goat cheese, the creamy and rich Camembert or maybe the salty and serious Roquefort?
Paulita: I like to think I’m a creamy and rich Camembert with nuances yet to be discovered, but too often I’m distracted and turn into the fresh and lively goat cheese, frolicking here and there.
6) How does France inspire your writing?
Paulita: I’ve completed three novels (only one is published at this point) and in two of them, the characters run away to France. So obviously I’m obsessed with the country. Since I’d like to run away to France, that’s where my characters go. I truly believe that the French lifestyle helps people straighten priorities. When I returned from my extended trip to France, I decided to attend graduate school. When my daughter was unsure about her college major, I sent her to France for three months. I feel like it’s almost a pilgrimage that many people could benefit from. That’s why my characters head to France to solve their life dilemmas. Plus, there’s always an opportunity to add some charming French men to the plot.
7) In your book THE SUMMER OF FRANCE the main character Fia arrives in Provence to spend the summer running a B&B for her uncle, is this something you would like to do?
Paulita: Yes, I would love to live in France, and running a B&B seems like a viable option. My dream would be to have a writer’s retreat in the South of France.
8) Can you describe your perfect French apero for us; the drink, the nibbles, the location and the company?
Paulita: Just one? I have to say that the little restaurants along Paris’ Rue Mouffetard draw me in with their friendly owners who tempt us with free drinks if we’ll only occupy those outdoor tables, but one of my favorite meals ever happened in Equilles, France en route to Aix en Provence. So that is where I would return. The views over Provence with the rolling hills and the vineyards were spectacular. I’d want to share my apero with my husband and our French friends from Nantes who always know the history of everything in France. To drink, I’d choose a Kir Royal – champagne and crème de cassis. For nibbles, I’ve eaten something as exotic as baguette sliced into rounds, buttered and topped with caviar that burst like little bubbles in my mouth, but I’ll take a simple slice of baguette topped with a black olive or tomato tapenade.
9) If money and commitments were no object where in France would you like to own a property and what sort of place would it be?
Paulita: I’d love to live in the midst of a vineyard or olive grove near a small village outside of Aix en Provence. I picture a stone house with wide French doors that open out to a patio with a pool and a hound dog lounging nearby. My desk would face those open doors and I’d write novels while my husband walked into the village for our daily baguette before we both took a dip in the pool.
Finally do you have any current projects you would like to tell my readers about?
Paulita: I’m working on a sequel to The Summer of France, which I’m calling Autumn in Aix. But before Autumn in Aix hits the bookshelves, expect to see I See London, I See France, a women’s fiction novel about a mother who sells her minivan and uses the money to travel overseas with her three young children. She hopes to find the love of her youth, a Frenchman, bien sûr, to see how her life might have turned out differently.
Thank you for taking the time to answer some questions about France and you.
Paulita: Thanks, Jacqui, for the interview. Such fun questions that really made me think. I hope everyone who dreams of traveling to France considers taking a trip through my novel first.
You can find Paulita on her website, blog and on Facebook. For more posts on this virtual book tour see here. To whet your appetite here is a synopsis of THE SUMMER OF FRANCE :
When Fia Jennings loses her job at the local newspaper, she dreams of bonding with her teenage twins. As she realizes she may be too late to pull her family closer, her husband pressures her to find another job to pay the increasing bills. Relief comes with a phone call from Fia’s great Uncle Martin who runs a bed and breakfast in Provence. Uncle Martin wants Fia to venture to France to run the B&B so he and his wife Lucie can travel. He doesn’t tell Fia about the secret he hid in the house after fighting in World War II, and he doesn’t mention the people who are tapping his phone and following him, hoping to find the secret.
After much cajoling, Fia whisks her family to France and is stunned when Uncle Marin and Aunt Lucie leave the same day for a Greek cruise. She’s thrown into the minutiae of running the B&B without the benefit of speaking the language. Her dreams of family bonding time fade as her teenagers make French friends. Fia’s husband Grayson begins touring the countryside with a sophisticated French woman, and Fia resists the distractions of Christophe, a fetching French man. Why the whirlwind of French welcome, Fia wonders after she comes home from a day at the beach in Nice to find someone has ransacked the B&B.
Fia analyzes Uncle Martin’s obscure phone calls, trying to figure out this WW II hero’s secret. Can she uncover the secret and relieve Uncle Martin’s guilt while building the family she’s always dreamed of?
(No violence. No graphic sex, some sexual situations.)
Publication Date: October 2012
230 Pages, Oblique Presse ISBN-10 1300257334, ISBN-13 978-1300257332 Available in ebook and paperback, Amazon link below.
Thanks to Paulita and France Book Tours for organising the tour and giveaway - don’t forget to email me at FrenchVillageDiaries@gmail.com if you would like to enter.