I was a little bit excited when I discovered that today is the release date for the kindle versions of Ruth Silvestre’s A House in the Sunflowers: An English Family's Search for Their Dream House in France and A Harvest of Sunflowers. I discovered these books a few years after moving to France and really enjoyed following Ruth and her family as they discovered rural France. Their story was very different to ours, mainly because they bought their holiday home in the 1970’s. A time when there was no local expat network or Internet groups offering help and advice, just them and their French neighbours and the special friendship that grew over the years. I borrowed the first two books from a friend and enjoyed them so much that I bought the third book Reflections of Sunflowers and gave it to my friend so the trilogy could be kept together. Recently I have spent quite a bit of time searching the second hand book stores to try and find my own copies as I would love to read them all again. Hence my excitement at finding the first two books are now available from Allison and Busby in ebook format. I really hope book three will also be available very soon. I look on Ruth and her family as the pioneers who led many of us to follow and although we had already moved before I read them she helped me to understand many things. I will always be grateful to Ruth for sharing her life in France.
A House in the Sunflowers: An English Family's Search for Their Dream House in France tells their story of finding Bel-Air de Grèzelongue in the Lot-et-Garonne, south-west France and despite it being unloved and uninhabited for ten years to them it was perfect. Ruth writes with fondness about the way their neighbours at the working farm down the lane became good friends and included them in family celebrations, local events and invited them to help with the harvests, which helped integrate them into the community. There was lots of work to do on the house, so their time spent on holidays in France was busy and sometimes stressful, but they were always happy to be back. I can’t tell you how comforting it was to read this book during our ‘settling in years’.
A Harvest of Sunflowers carries on their story twenty years after arriving in their dream French house. All the characters are there, older and wiser and now their family are entwined in the local community. Ruth writes about weddings, new arrivals and tales of great friendships as well as changes in the farming community and the way the harvests are dealt with by the new generation. Food, family and community are still an important part of this book as they are in rural French life.
Reflections of Sunflowers is the final book in the trilogy but their love of France and their French friends is still going strong. Life has changed a lot since they first arrived and there are more changes on the way. There are now grandchildren around to enjoy holidays in France and all that village life has to offer, but this book also has a certain amount of sadness to it. I felt very privileged to have shared in Ruth’s life from the pages of these books and appreciate how difficult it must have been to write about some of the things she shares. I will always have a great affection for this sunflower trilogy and I’m keeping my fingers crossed book three will also be available in ebook format too. If you haven’t yet read these books and enjoy life in France memoirs do look out for them, I’m certain you won’t be disappointed.