It’s July. My husband and children are off for the summer, and I’m joining them on holiday for these next two weeks. We tried to fly to Western Canada once and the trip just about killed us, so we’re spending alot of time at local parks and beaches this time around. After the kids go to bed, I’m working through a nice stack of travel memoirs beside my reading chair, and thought I’d review two of them this week. One is a candid account of life in Provence written by Carol Drinkwater, and the other is a personal memoir of life in the US, Norway and the Netherlands sent to me by the lovely Maggie Myklebust at flyawayhomebook.com. Maggie has a beautiful blog and has just posted pictures of her travels in Cinqueterra, Italy, if you’re curious.
The Olive Harvest, Carol Drinkwater
Orion Books, 403 pages
Travel memoirs that take place in Provence tend to paint the region as an earthly paradise, a place where nothing bad ever happens and where nature’s bounty offers everything that anyone might ever desire. French movies and television shows, however, often portray the area as a wild place where extreme weather and dangerous animals have serious implications on human survival. A happy medium exists in Carol Drinkwater’s Olive Farm trilogy. The actress, best known for playing Helen Herriot in the first three seasons of All Creatures Great and Small, writes of summers spent at her olive farm in Provence in this series of literary travel memoirs.
The Olive Harvest is a story of resilience, triumph and love set in the beautiful and volatile Provence. Inthe third instalment of the trilogy, Carol and her husband Michel arrive at the farm with a list of projects to be completed on an already stretched budget. Shortly after settling in, they are involved in a car accident that leaves Michel seriously injured, but he returns to Paris to try to save his struggling production company instead of staying at the olive farm to heal. As Michel’s difficulties bring about a depression, Carol learns that she may be alone in Provence permanently. Faced with no olives to harvest, an invasion of wild boar, and financial worries, Carol turns to her Provencal friends for help. Their knowledge, ingenuity and enthusiasm guide Carol through an otherwise dark time, deepening her connection to her adopted home. The Olive Harvest is a beautifully written, moving testament to the people and the landscape of Provence.
Fly Away Home, Maggie Myklebust
Summertime Publishing, 290 pages
Maggie Myklebust was born in New Jersey to an American mother and Norwegian father. To acquaint her with her Norwegian roots, Maggie spent happy summers with her grandmother in Norway from the time she was eleven years old. At thirty, with three young children and a pending divorce, Maggie returned to Norway looking for a place to heal. Unexpectedly, she reconnected with Harry, her summer sweetheart, and together, they embarked on a series of new adventures that brought them three more children and took them to the Netherlands, Texas, and back home again to Norway. In an uplifting and engaging memoir, Fly Away Home traces the Myklebust family history, outlines Maggie’s turbulent years in America, and tells her story as she makes a new life for herself filled with love, travel, and endless possibility.