cover image THE OLIVE FARM: A Memoir of Life, Love and Olive Oil in the South of France

THE OLIVE FARM: A Memoir of Life, Love and Olive Oil in the South of France

Carol Drinkwater, . . Overlook, $24.95 (332pp) ISBN 978-1-58567-106-9

Following in the footsteps of bestselling authors Peter Mayle (A Year in Provence) and Frances Mayes (Under the Tuscan Sun), Drinkwater has written a memoir of her flight to the good life in southern France. "All my life-long, I dreamed of acquiring a shabby-chic house and renovating it," writes the author, a British actress who starred in the BBC adaptation of James Herriot's All Creatures Great and Small. When she and her husband, Michel, spot a hillside villa with an olive vineyard in a village near Cannes, they defy common sense and become landowners. Never mind that it is moldering and insect-infested, the roof leaks and there doesn't seem to be any running water. Drinkwater's account of paradise regained involves bushwhacking through the intricacies of French property law and battling the elements of nature (wind, rain and fire), to say nothing of the eccentric local population. Alas, the book reads, by turns, like a catalogue of the author's real-estate woes ("We have a leaking roof!") and a ponderous love poem ("We are two embarking on this path together. Newly in love. Thrilled by one another... Investing in love, in one another."). Still, for all its false notes, the book describes life in the South of France with lush, voluptuous appreciation and successfully plays into our fantasies of the Mediterranean "land of liquor and honey." Agent, Ed Victor Ltd. (June 15)

Forecast: Many readers will find this idealized portrait of a culture and a way of life most appealing. Drinkwater's book seems poised to attract fans of Mayle, Mayes and others of the expatriates-in-paradise genre.