|Rosie's Little Café on the Riviera by Jennifer Bohnet|
Welcome to ‘France et Moi’ where this week, to coincide with the release of her latest novel, I am talking to author Jennifer Bohnet about what France means to her.
Jennifer is English but has lived in France for the past 17 years. After 11 years down on the Cote d’Azur where her husband Richard was a guardien for a villa, they moved from the Mediterranean coast to a small quirky cottage in Finistere, Brittany. This was a bit of a culture shock to say the least! When she is not writing she loves reading, cooking and having friends around for lunch - lunches that follow the French tradition of lasting for several hours. Rosie’s Little Cafe on the Riviera is her tenth book and she is thrilled @HQDigital are issuing it in paperback in conjunction with Sainsburys.
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’?
Jennifer: Their attitude to life makes a huge difference I think. Their mantra still tends to be ‘work to live’ rather than ‘live to work’. I love the properties too that all seem to have the ‘patina of a bygone age’ - all that peeling paint and genteel air of neglect! I do agree with you though about the dog poo littered streets!
2) What is your first memory of a trip to France?
Jennifer: Being met at Nice airport by our son and daughter-in-law and being driven along the coast to Antibes. Not only was it my first trip to France, I’d never been abroad before and I saw everything with the heightened vision of a new traveller. I had no idea then that just five years later I would be cycling down the west coast to make the Cote d’Azur my home for the next eleven years.
3) You have written novels set in many locations in France, from Brittany to the South of France, but do you have a favourite holiday location in France?
Jennifer: Antibes. It has everything you could want on a holiday.
4) How does France inspire your writing?
Jennifer: There is just something about the diversity of France - both in its geography and its people. Down south it’s a very cosmopolitan population constantly changing, while up here in Brittany it’s still very much an agricultural community with its roots in family life. Both intrigue me.
5) You have lived in France for many years now, but when you first arrived in France what was the best thing about being immersed in French life and the scariest thing?
Jennifer: The scariest thing was arriving in France with two bikes, a tent and a dog in a trailer behind Richard’s bike and no real idea of what we were doing! France sort of scooped us up and showed us a whole new way of life that we could embrace if we were brave enough.
6) Do you have any embarrassing language mishaps you are happy to share?
Jennifer: Cannes has a wonderful stall in its daily market selling local artisan food produce and shortly after we arrived down south, I made the classic mistake of asking for dried fruit without preservative! (In French for those who are not aware preservatives are condoms.) I was mortified!
7) Imagine you are sitting outside a French café at 10.00am on a sunny morning watching the world go by, what do you order from the waiter?
Jennifer: At that hour in summer I’d have a black coffee, any other time of the year it would be a hot chocolate - an hour later it would have to a glass of rosé.
8) France has many different cheeses, a silly question, but which French cheese are you?
Jennifer: Oh definitely a creamy rich Camembert - that and Brie are my absolute favourites.
9) Every region in France has it’s own culinary specialty, do you have a favourite regional dish?
Jennifer: Not really, but I do love tapenade something I was introduced to down south. It’s a mix of olives, capers, garlic, anchovy, basil, lemon juice and olive oil. Spread on slices of baguette at it makes a quick, easy and delicious aperitif. (When I make it I do leave the anchovy out though!)
10) Best French tipple, and yes I know there are many to choose from?
Jennifer: A nice cold glass of Pinot Gris takes some beating - although if money was no object it would be a cold glass of a good champagne every time!
Finally, your latest novel Rosie’s Little Café on the Riviera was published yesterday, can you tell us a little bit about it?
Jennifer: It's a summer of taking chances for three different women down on the exotic French Riviera.
Rosie is opening her dream cafe and intends to spend the summer turning it into a success - only to find life tossing some unexpected events and people onto the menu.
Then there's GeeGee who uses the cafe as her summer office - but this year she’s facing a summer of no money and no home.
Recently widowed Erica runs a gift shop with a difference that she has been neglecting since the death of her husband. This summer, together with her young daughter Cammie, she needs to find a way of moving on with her life.
What none of them expects is a summer romance.
Thank you for taking the time to answer some questions about France and you, I really enjoyed meeting Rosie and spending the summer on the Riviera with her. I will be posting my review here next week.
Jennifer: Thank you for inviting me Jacqui.
Rosie’s Little Café on the Riviera is available in paperback and ebook format, links to Amazon can be found below.
Here are the links to my reviews of some of her other novels. All of them are worth packing in your suitcase for this years summer holiday.