As soon as I saw this promo for Janine Marsh’s debut novel My Good Life in France, I knew I had to get my hands on a copy! I was familiar with Janine from The Good Life France website and Magazine but I hadn’t realised her move to France had been accidental. On a day trip to buy wine (as you do when it is a simple matter of popping over the Channel!), Janine, her husband and father find themselves making an offer on a rundown, in-need-of-some-work barn in the Seven Valleys area of Pas de Calais in northern France. Not a carefully calculated decision but one they followed through with (and buying a house in France is a months-long process) and Janine and Mark found themselves living a part-time life in France.
The house is a holiday destination at first (well, if you can call weekends spent navigating French bureaucracy, neighbour’s errant animals, figuring out French village life, home renovations in another language and overflowing septic tanks a “holiday”) but eventually, after a few years of scrimping and saving, Janine and Mark make the move permanent. You know, to live “The Good Life” in France. (Those familiar with the 1970s British sitcom of the same name will notice many similarities between Tom and Barbara who attempted to escape modern commercial living by becoming self-sufficient in an urban setting and Janine and Mark!). Even Janine’s former investment banking colleagues couldn’t believe she was choosing to live amongst the ducks and farm animals!
For those of you not brave enough to purchase a run-down old barn in France on a whim, this is an excellent way to live that life vicariously. For those of you dreaming of purchasing a run-down old barn in France on a whim, it might make you stop and think twice!*** Janine writes in a light-hearted tone but doesn’t gloss over the difficulties of her endeavours. She paints a real picture of what it’s like to undertake such a massive project in a foreign country and while, on the surface, it seems pretty amusing, as someone who has experienced maybe 1/100th of what Janine has, I was pleased she didn’t make it out to be a wine and cheese-filled dream life. Because life in France is hard! (though there is cheap wine and excellent cheese which makes it a bit more bearable!).
Alongside the life they are building in rural France, the book outlines Janine’s path to founding The Good Life France website – again, something she tackled without much clue – her words! – but which she has made into a roaring success story. At first she set up the site to keep friends and family up to date with what she was doing in France, the work on the house and life in France, in general. After figuring out that she had a captive audience much wider than her family (60k pageviews per month in under 6 months!) she expanded to talk about her travels around France, how to buy a house in France how to, well, live the good life. In France.
This is a delightful read for anyone who has visited, wants to visit, has lived in or wants to live in rural France. It’s a book for Francophiles everywhere, for dreamers and do-ers. You’ll be cheering Janine on from your armchair as she conquers task after task to build a life in France. And I dare you to read the book and NOT dream about moving to France…
*** I can hardly talk about “impulse house purchases”… I mean, we are the people who magically scored a reservation at noma back in 2014 and, as if that wasn’t expensive enough, we came home with a house in France in mind! (long story short, we decided we couldn’t afford to spend a whole week in Copenhagen so we headed down to Gascony where we just happened to look at a few houses that we’d been casually looking at online and saw one we fell in love with. Five months later, we bought it! Now, you can rent it!)
Please note: This post contains product links from Amazon and The Book Depository which are affiliate links, meaning if you click over and purchase something, I will receive a very small percentage of the purchase price (at no extra cost to you) which goes towards maintaining eat. live. travel. write. Thank you in advance!
Disclosure: Though Janine offered me a review copy from her publisher, I couldn’t wait until August to read it so I purchased a copy of My Good Life in France for myself (on Kindle). I have not been further compensated for writing this post and all opinions 100% my own.
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