Janine Marsh’s words will resonate with so many – here she explains just how her book came about.

My Good Life

Sometimes plans to live in France don’t follow a smooth path. Take me. I didn’t want to move here at all. I wanted to stay in London where I had a comfy office job, and retire to France when the time was right – many years down the line. My husband wanted a chance to change our busy lives and to renovate our infrequent holiday bolthole, a run-down old farmhouse in rural Hauts de France.

I must confess, I wasn’t at all sure it was the right thing to do, but we moved on a sunny autumn day. Soon after, the weather turned so cold I dreamed of divorce and returning to civilisation. But we made it through the winter and things started to look up.

Six months in and I returned to London. My dad was ill and needed help. He was the reason in a way that I was in France in the first place. When my mum died, my dad drowned his sorrows in whisky. I took him on a day trip to Calais to buy wine, I thought it must be better than the hard stuff. I ended up buying a house on that trip, totally unplanned. It cost less than a Hermès Birkin handbag and it was, said everyone who saw it a true “house of horrors”. It had dirt floors, corrugated iron doors, broken windows and holes galore, but for me it was love at first sight.

For two years my life was on hold while I helped look after my dad. I’d sit there quietly scribbling as he napped in the day, about my dreams for life in France, the people I met, the places I saw. When he woke he’d ask me to read my stories to him. “You’re good at it” he said, “you should write a book”.

Later, when he was sadly no longer with us and I was back in France, renovating and breaking fingers and toes on breeze blocks, finding orphan ducklings, taking in stray dogs and cats, learning the art of small steps to a new life, getting to know the quirky neighbours and discovering the culture of France, his words returned to me. My husband built me a website and I called it The Good Life France, a nod to our plans to live a sustainable life style.  It was a way to keep in touch with friends and family but to my surprise, my audience grew bigger, with more than a million page views per month. One day, a publisher contacted me and said, “you should write a book”. So, I did! “My Good Life in France: in Pursuit of the Rural Dream”, the true tales of my rollercoaster ride through a new culture – “surprising, charming and not the least bit baffling”.

Available from Amazon, good book shops and outlets (Michael O’Mara Books: ISBN-13: 978-1782437321)

published 9/2017