Here again are my three books. Clicking on the links should take you to where you need to go wherever you are in the world to make a purchase.
|Being watched as I write|
Let me share the title of my latest book: With bare feet and sandy toes: Growing up in Australia in the 1960s and 70s. In a divergence from my previous memoirs, I don't head back to France. I go further back than that.
My cover is special, but I want to wait just a little longer before I share it, and its story, with you. In the meantime, here is the quote that I use in my front matter, which gives a little taste of the story it precedes.
Overhead in the Paris sky
Two airplanes fought it out one day
And one of them was my whole youth
The other was my days to come
In yesterday's Instagram post, I reflected on being a writer. Ali, whom I met serendipitously, posted a photo of the street in her French village that inspired the cover of But you are in France, Madame. I commented that connections like the one that I have with her have been the most surprising and rewarding aspect of my publication journey.
And, to demonstrate more completely how fulfilling and global my conversations have become, I want to share a beautiful e-card that was sent to me on French Mother's Day by a friend whom I have met through my books. I was so touched by the thought and today happens to be a most appropriate day to look at it again. It is Noah's birthday but, for the first time, I am not by his side to give him a cuddle and celebrate. He is studying for exams at university in Canberra and I miss him⏤and my most cherished role: Mum.
I cannot get the link to work, so let me describe it for you. Music plays in the background as an empty vase fills with flowers, each with its own little gift (see below*):
The message at the end reads:
Hello, Catherine,Reading your second book now, and I am once again so impressed with your honesty, your determination, and your love for your amazing husband and children. So universal, and at the same time so personal for those of us who are all French at heart!
|Ready for adventure. Noah, age 6, on our way to France|
I know that at this juncture of family life all parents have to say something of a good-bye, and perhaps the emotions of one's last child to leave home is different...more raw, strangely physical. But, Noah is champing at the bit to discover what life has in store for him and it is with pride that I will watch him go.
He is a dreamer who sees himself sailing the seas, wandering barefoot, playing his guitar campside, exploring the depths of the ocean (with his brand new SCUBA certificate en poche), wearing his Indiana Jones hat (passed down from his father) under the scorching daytime sun of distant archeological digs and debating the mysteries of time and space - in English, in French or in any language born of mutual comprehension - at night.
|Another family member that will miss him|
My son, I know that you will be kind, loving and generous whilst living your adventures.
Ah yes, I see that smile in your eyes and hear the rising chortle that precedes your quip in response. And, in translation, I know that it is saying, "It's ok, Mum. I've got this."
|Cold, wind-blown, but special walk in the mountains|
I had already dropped one child at the bus stop and, given that it was pouring with rain, had seen firsthand that the roads were clogged. Ten minutes later, Noah and I were in the car en route to his physics exam with a theoretical good hour up our sleeves. A cheery 'hello' wave to my neighbour and we were off.
We didn't even make it out of our street before there was a build up of traffic. I made a quick decision to vary our usual trajet ... straight into roadworks, onto a mind-numbingly slow 30 kilometre-per-hour school zone, and into three lanes of traffic at a complete standstill.
"Look at the flag on the hill. Shows how strong the wind is," said Noah, oblivious to my rising stress level.
Five minutes crawled along with us a few metres up the road.
I was desperate to not communicate my anxiety, but wringing my hands and rubbing my eyes (to wipe away the unchanging scene?) was no doubt a less-than-ideal way to do that.
The strange thing is I had guessed that something would go wrong on this particularly important day for my son. After all, nothing else has gone right this year for him.
But, let me tell you about another mistake that I made. I laugh now but at the time the only thing I could think to do was to hit the 'leave group' button...quickly.
You see, the best place to advertise one of my dresses for sale was not to the FB group 'Rent your maison long term in France'.
"Ha ha. You can't live in that..." and probably worse, but I didn't wait around to read the rest of the comments.
At least, I have nowhere to be, I have a soundtrack to my writing and a hot cup of coffee beside me.
It's the small things.
And the big things.
I did get Noah to his exam on time, kissed him 'goodbye,' wished him good luck, saw him walk around the corner and burst into tears.
*Australian vernacular - nearby