It’s the eighth Day of Christmas and I am working my way through twelve days of reviews of books set in France. My review today is for Journeys Through France and Life by Glenda De Vaney, a memoir that reflects the New Year/new start theme. This book starts as an enjoyable travel memoir of extended holidays in France, albeit often under the cloud of her husband’s erratic behaviour, but turns into a very readable life story the week her life changed forever. When her son is diagnosed with schizophrenia, her husband wants no involvement and something (call it maternal instinct) kicks in and gives her the courage to walk away from the emotional abuse she has lived with for twenty years and start her life again.
This is not an easy period in her life, but with time she learned to live alongside her son, giving him the space to cope with the voices in his head and ensuring no matter what her mothering instincts were, she didn’t fuss over him. Sharing their difficult journey was very brave and very insightful. From her previous holidays, France had weaved its magic and despite the change in her circumstances it was never far from her mind. Creatively she used her many photos taken in France to make and sell original framed prints as well as giving animated talks to share her love and photographs of France. She soon found she needed to return and bravely set off on road trips to France alone; hiring a car, battling directions, traffic and driving with the French to visit many lovely villages and chateaux over a number of years.
Glenda writes an honest and emotional book, whether she is sharing a delicious French meal, a troubled episode with her son or a panic on foreign soil when things don’t go to plan. Despite her love of France, I felt there were irreconcilable differences between her way and the French way and there were times, especially on her final trip, when I failed to grasp whether it was her tongue-in-cheek humour or if she really was blaming ‘France’ for getting lost. Although I can’t agree with all of her opinions of France and the French I did enjoy her book.
Journeys Through France and Life is available in ebook and paperback format and links to Amazon can be found below. I was sent a copy of this book by the author for an honest review.