Summer Reads: With bare feet and sandy toes: Growing up in Australia in the 1960s & 70s

This is part of my Summer Reads series where I’ll be sharing book recommendations –  a series of “not just cookbooks”.

With barefoot and sandy toes cover - a book by Catherine Berry

For Summer Reads this week, I’ve got another story that’s close to my heart!

Catherine Berry of But you are in France, Madame, and I have a lot in common. We’re both from Adelaide and both love  (and have lived in) France. A few years ago, I happened across Catherine over on Instagram (she’s also Our French Village House – another thing we have in common, rental properties in France that we operate from afar!) and downloaded her book, But you are in France, Madame and read it in one sitting. I loved that part of Catherine’s story (because I found out we had even more in common than just Adelaide and a love of France) – you can read my full review here) – and equally loved the follow-up story, Weaving a French Life: An Australian story which came out in 2020 (you can read my review here) where she describes the very delicate balance of loving two countries at the same time – something I know all too well about!

You can imagine my delight, then, when I discovered she had written a memoir all about growing up in Australia in the 1960s and 70s – what a PERFECT summer read and a trip down memory lane for me!

From the author:

Does looking back help you move forward? Not always. But, like Catherine’s first two memoirs, writing With bare feet and sandy toes: Growing up in Australia in the 1960s & 70s came at the right time for her after a difficult period. Gusts of wind in the wild, sighs on the breeze, fluttering leaves, toes in the sand … it was a rejuvenating, soothing reconnection with her past. She found laughter and hope, felt the magic of innocent dreaming, and relived the frissons of first love. Perfect? No. But with their telling, even the tough memories re-wrote themselves as salient lessons, and illustrated that relationships—especially those between a parent and a child—are complicated, and that flaws and forgiveness go hand in hand.

Catherine’s story begins in the 1960s in Adelaide, Australia. Hers was a simple early life and whilst a caterpillar-to-butterfly transformation was not her lot, the socially awkward girl that was impressed upon her grew in self-belief and was gifted the desire to wander and experience the sparkling facets of people and places.

I read this book in one sitting thanks to jetlag, but also because it was so “more-ish” – each chapter had me nodding my head in recognition. Written to be read either as a stand-alone book to the first two or as a prelude, I’d say all the books make you want to read the others. This one completes the trilogy of Early Life – France – Australia (with her heart in France).

This book really transported me back to my childhood – the sights, sounds, and smells of growing up in Adelaide. I had to smile at SO many memories – from the warm milk “enjoyed” in the lunch “shed” at primary school, trips to the beach in summer, being subjected to confession at a Catholic school, and watching Test Cricket matches (sometimes over 5 days!) on the tv to the absolute wide-eyed wonder of a first trip to Europe as a teenager, there was SO much in here that I related to/ remembered.

Life really was simple when I was growing up in Australia and this is a very accurate depiction of that time. It’s a delightful breath of fresh air as Catherine remembers her hopes, dreams, and fears growing up in a more innocent time. For anyone who has happy memories of a simpler life as a child (wherever you grew up), who wants a book that will put a smile on your face or who wonders what life “down under” looked like 50 years ago, this is a PERFECT beach, couch, porch, backyard, plane or train read for the summer!

Check out Catherine’s blog and beautiful rental property in Talloires.

With barefoot and sandy toes cover - a book by Catherine Berry

Buy With bare feet and sandy toes: Growing up in Australia in the 1960s &  70s on Amazon (this affiliate link should bring you to the Amazon store in, or closest to, your country).

Please note: This post contains affiliate links. I am a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means to earn fees by linking to and affiliated sites.  This post also contains affiliate links from The Book Depository. This means that if you click over and purchase something, I will receive a very small percentage of the purchase price (at no extra cost to you). Thank you in advance!


Buy my books! In the French kitchen with kids and French Food for Everyone: le goûter  (after school snacks) and le dîner (dinner) are out now! Click here for details and how to order!

Books by Mardi Michels.

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