Welcome to my blog, my name is Heather Francis and I am an author and writer of short stories and poetry. I grew up in Belfast and, since then have lived in Ireland, Germany and France, the latter providing the inspiration for my newly published travel memoir, ‘Bonjour Darling’. Join me as I talk about writing and share with you my love of France, from the comfort of my 'Empty Nest'!
A warm welcome to all my readers on this special day, as you help me celebrate the launch of my book, 'Bonjour Darling', for sale on Amazon. By now, I hope you are well acquainted with 'the old presbytery' and this beautiful region of south west France where our story unfolds. I was so pleased that your were able to join me for our virtual soirée in my post, 'Join me for an Apéro in the French Countryside' - all the characters you met there and many more await you in the pages of the book.
Before I leave you with a synopsis of the book, I would briefly like to share with you the reason I have told my story. When you read the book, it will become clear to you why my husband and I risked everything to start a new life in France, but we could never have anticipated what an adventure awaited us. It was only several years later, when family circumstances dictated I should return to Ireland, that my longing for our French life compelled me to put down on paper our life-changing story. Initially this proved an amazing therapy and, as I coped with the often grey wet days in Ireland I lost myself in this absorbing task of reliving every minute of our time in France. To my surprise, my writing style captured the humour in so many of our encounters and, as I survived my exile back home, reliving every minute of our time in France, I am sure I felt the warmth of the Charentaise sun on my back where I sat at my desk in the study.
'Bonjour Darling' by Heather Francis
This is the true story of a couple from Northern
Ireland, whose lives having been turned upside down, feel they have nothing
left to lose. Together they grasp a second chance at happiness and selling
everything, purchase a run down ecclesiastical building at the heart of a tiny
village in south west France. Little do they know when they arrive in
Saint-Allier, on a wet and windy November evening, that the old presbytery, not
unlike the wardrobe in Narnia, would turn out to be the door that fast tracks
them to the heart of village life.
Once through the door, their new life is peppered
with colourful characters. Take for example their next-door neighbour, the
ever-present Henri, who having married a much younger second wife, is on a
constant quest to hone his body to perfection. In his effort to impress all and
sundry, he proudly declares at every opportunity, “Beaucoup de
musculation!” Or there is, of course,
‘Joyce’ the colourful, effervescent English lady with a mop of curly hair, who,
propelled along by her two Shih Tzus, Sybil and Thorny, calls everyone 'darling'.
She can be heard regularly across the supermarket, greeting the bemused French
shop assistants with her theatrical cry of, “Bonjour, darling!” You must call
by her little piece of England and meet her lovely husband, Jerry. The list
goes on, turning this true story into a hilarious adventure that attracts
comedy situations like the best French farce, culminating in a bedroom romp
with a touch of ‘O, la la’, as they greet their first B&B guests!
Don’t get me wrong,
however, this is a story of light and shade. When tragedy comes to the little
village of Saint-Allier, Heather and Ronnie stand shoulder to shoulder with
their French neighbours. Together their voices become one, as they experience
an amazing feeling of total acceptance and integration.
This book is a must read for anyone who has ever
dreamed of relocating to France, as we follow our intrepid pair on their
journey to full immersion into French village life. In this case, made entirely
possible by a unique and beautiful property at the heart of a close-knit
community. The result, a genuinely amusing true tale of how laughter, for
Heather and Ronnie, did in fact turn out to be the best medicine under the sun!
To order 'Bonjour Darling' today, simply click on the book image top right.
Finally, readers, I hope you really enjoy my story. It was only ever initially written for myself, but I just had to share with you my passion for this wonderful part of France and the people there who made us so welcome. I would just like to finish with a photograph of the countryside around the 'old presbytery' and to say I hope you will continue to drop by and visit me, as I carry on with my blog.