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Patrick and I Are Proud to Announce

About ten years ago, Patrick asked his mother to write down her life story; we had just finished publishing a series of books written by Vermonters—books of personal history set in the Twenties and Thirties—and Mireille had enjoyed reading them. She filled four notebooks with her stories about growing up in Provence, marrying a soldier at age 16, and moving first to Auvergne, then to Marseille, and then, finally, Paris, the city of her dreams. Then she hid the notebooks, never showing them to a single soul. Years later, I found them in a desk drawer. My mother-in-law, who spent the last few years of her life in a nursing home, was unavailable to answer the many questions that occurred to me. When I began transcribing the notebooks, we had already laid her body to rest.

The most captivating part of her story is the 12,000-word segment about her upbringing in Les Baux-de-Provence, and this is the portion that Patrick and I decided to publish. Over a million foreigners visit Les Baux every year, and we wanted people to know what it was like in the 1930s, when touring by "motorcar" was in its infancy. Back then, the old Roman road that led to the village—which is way up on a steep cliff—was still unpaved; French children went to the village school and played on the castle grounds, the jail and the post office were still in business, and a fascinating assortment of artists, musicians, poets, and old Provençal families lived in Les Baux. Mireille wrote about Tintin the jail keeper, the schoolmistress, the sculptor Louis Jou, the British socialite who was the victim in an unsolved murder case, the family who owned Baumanière (now a five-star hotel), the village gamekeeper-turned-poacher, and so on. "No one will be interested," she wrote at the end.

The Kindle version of "A Provençal Childhood" is now available for preorder. The ebook is $3.99 from (free via Kindle Unlimited). If you order it today, it will be automatically sent to your Kindle on August 31, the day of publication. The cover image is a painting of Mireille's; in Paris, she studied art at the Julian School. We are very proud of this little book—despite the author's conclusion that nobody would be interested. We were, and we knew others would be, too.


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