I recently read and reviewed The Promise of Provence as part of Rosie’s Book Review Team.
The Promise of Provence is an innovative and unusual type of novel because the heroine is not an innocent or feisty young woman in search of a career or a companion. The main character is a middle-aged woman, in her late fifties, who finds that the life she was living, and had planned to continue leading, disintegrates unexpectedly before her eyes. As a result, she is forced reinvent herself and redesign her future.
The first part of The Promise of Provence carries us through the traumatic events, which will shatter Katherine’s life. As all life-changing experiences, the difficult moment must first be overcome in order to move on to the following stage. The rest of the novel deals with how she recovers from the loss and renews her faith in herself.
I enjoyed the interior monologue of a mature woman, facing life choices, normally associated with younger women, such as coping with men’s sexual advances, finding a place to live, and meeting new friends. Katherine has the intelligence and experience to realize what she wants, and the courage to leave her comfort zone and attempt to get over the sadness she feels and recover her self-esteem.
She does something she has always dreamed of doing; she visits Europe. When she takes part in a home exchange holiday in the South of France, it will change her life forever, because she finds new incentives in life. Katherine’s journey is spiritual and emotional as well as geographical.
‘I thought I was coming on this exchange to run away from something, but now I feel I was really running toward something – a new me.’
I enjoyed her travels in Europe. She carried me away with her curiosity and sense of adventure, showing me the scenery, the delicious food, and museums, chateaux, and historic sights of France, Monaco, Budapest, and Italy.
Throughout her travels, she meets some wonderful people, but she also has some unfortunate experiences. There is romance, and there are some nasty characters, too. The romance, which eventually evolves, is not a whirlwind, and it is not the central issue in the novel, but it is solid, because it has potential to develop. Presumably it will be one of the main storylines in book two, Promises to Keep (Love in Provence Book 2).
It is a well-written and moving story, which transmits hope and optimism. A person’s happiness is in his/her own hands. As Francois tells Katherine:
‘Life is full of choices. Don’t be afraid to make them when you know they are right for you. You are much younger than I and have so much to live. Live it well.’
I enjoyed the book so much that I asked the author, Patricia Sands, some questions for an Author Spotlight.
1- The Promise of Provence and its sequel, Promises to Keep, are doing very well with 400 reviews between them. Why do you think the series is so popular?
When I first published The Promise of Provence, I thought it was a stand-alone novel. However, I received so many emails from readers asking for more of Katherine’s story that I decided to add two more books, shorter than the first. The majority of my readers love stories set in France and many are devoted Francophiles. After Amazon Publishing contacted me and purchased the rights to the series, my readership is increasing even more through their great marketing. I feel tremendously grateful to have been offered this opportunity to work with Amazon’s Lake Union Publishing, their women’s fiction imprint.
2- The main character in your novel embarks upon a new life when she’s well over fifty. Were you surprised that so many readers were interested in reading about this type of heroine?
It’s been a lovely surprise, thanks!
My first novel, The Bridge Club, is about eight women and follows their lives until they are in their ’60’s. I heard from a large number of readers then who said they enjoyed reading about older female characters and that’s what encouraged me to continue writing to my demographic. Now I know that the majority of my readers are over 40 and many over 60. They tell me it is rare to find novels with older characters and they like that about my stories.
3- What inspired you to set it in Provence?
I’ve had a love affair with France since I first spent a year in Europe after university, when I was twenty-one. Fortunately, I’ve visited different parts of that beautiful country many times throughout my life. For the past twenty years my husband and I have spent extended time every summer in the south of France, usually in Nice or Antibes. In 2011, we rented an apartment in Antibes for five months where I wrote the first draft of The Promise of Provence.
On many of our visits, we have arranged some of our accommodation through home exchanges and that’s one of the reasons I wrote that experience into The Promise of Provence. It’s a fabulous way to travel!
4- What are you working on now?
I’ve recently finished final edits with Amazon’s Lake Union Pubishing for “I Promise You This“, Book 3 in the Love In Provence series. It will be published in spring, 2016. The plan is to write another three-book series with the same characters in the south of France as they open a small inn. I’m excited about getting on with those books and thrilled that I can keep writing about the part of the world that my readers love as much as I do.
5- What would you like readers to know about you?
I love writing and all the work that goes with it! It’s been a great surprise to me to begin a completely new career as an author after I turned sixty. I’m often asked to speak to women’s groups and love to encourage women of all ages to follow a dream, no matter how old we are. It’s never too late!
I also love hearing from readers and believe that’s an author’s greatest reward. I send out a newsletter once a month and feel that’s my chance to speak to each one of the subscribers. There’s always at least one book giveaway per letter (from many of my author friends) and often there are sneak peeks at my writing, along with photography and information about France.
6– How can readers contact you or find our more about your books?
I’d like to thank Patricia Sands for writing such a lovely book and for visiting my blog. It was wonderful to read her novel and find out more about her books and her writing process!