An Escape To Provence is a Love Letter to Provence
Sophie Claire just published her latest novel, An Escape To Provence. Her writing features uplifting emotional stories with their heart in Provence, where she spent her childhood summers. Half French, half Scottish, Sophie Claire was born in Africa and grew up in England. She felt she didn’t belong anywhere – except in the pages of a book. Perhaps this is why she likes to help her characters find their home, a place in the world where they can be loved for themselves.
Previously, she worked in marketing and proofreading academic papers, but writing is what she always considered her ‘real job’, and now she’s delighted to spend her days dreaming up heartwarming contemporary romance stories set in beautiful places. Find out more at www.sophieclaire.co.uk.
In the article below, Sophie Claire shares her connection to Provence and how it continues to get her through the rainy days and influences her novels.
Why My Book is a Love Letter to Provence
Where did you dream of escaping to during the pandemic? I’ve lived in Manchester, UK, most of my life since my Scottish father and French mother settled here because it was halfway between their families. But I’m lucky that, as a novelist, I can escape every day in my imagination to wherever I choose. And for me, the pull is always to the south of France, where my grandparents lived, and I spent every summer as a child.
I wrote my latest book, An Escape To Provence, during the lockdown and set it in inland Provence, where the landscape is dry and arid, especially in the fierce heat of summer. It’s a place of intense colours, perfumes and flavours, so I love to write about it. But it was only as the story developed that I realised how crucial the setting was to become.
In the book, cynical divorce lawyer Daisy Jackson unexpectedly inherits a ramshackle farmhouse in Provence and sets off for the French countryside to oversee renovations herself. But Gabriel Laforet has other ideas. A local builder with ties to the property, Gabriel is determined to see Daisy off and preserve the characterful, charming farmhouse – which, but for a missing will, he knows is rightfully his.
When Daisy arrives, she’s a fish out of water. A city girl in a quiet, rural village where the pace is slow and traditional. She’s infuriated by Gabriel’s laidback ways, and sparks fly between them. But she’s determined to get the job done, and the longer she stays, the more the place begins to grow on her. She discovers it’s a place with strong community values, and she learns to appreciate the arid beauty of the landscape around her.
It’s a romance, and I loved watching her slow-burn love affair develop – not just with Gabriel but with the setting. I poured my love for the place into every word, drawing on my memories of big family gatherings around delicious meals, joyous trips to the seaside, and dramatic thunderstorms. The setting helped to intensify what was already a sensual and emotional story. And perhaps travel restrictions intensified my longing for the place.
When it’s raining in Manchester (which it often is), the sun-soaked landscapes of Provence provide an escape for me. There’s nothing I like more than to let my imagination carry me away to a place where the cicadas sing all summer and the smell of lavender perfumes the air. I hope this book will transport my readers too.
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