Book Review Seeking Provence by Nicholas Woodsworth
Nicholas Woodsworth wrote Seeking Provence, Old Myths, New Paths about his lifestyle transition that began with a “Career Discussion.” The book starts with meeting his new boss at the newspaper’s headquarters in London, England, to life in Aix-en-Provence. Woodsworth was not enthusiastic about the unanticipated leave of absence and permanent relocation to Provence. Regardless of whether you have visited the South of France, this book explores roads less travelled in the region and challenges at life’s crossroads.
About the Author
Born in Canada’s national capital, Ottawa, Nicholas Woodsworth grew up in a Canadian diplomatic family that often moved to New York, Saigon, Cape Town, and Addis Ababa destinations. Settling in Provence in his twenties, he became a foreign correspondent and staff travel writer for the London Financial Times. He was also the Financial Times Africa Correspondent in the early 1990s. As the Weekend FT’s staff travel writer (for 14 years), Woodsworth’s stories frequently carried the Middle East and Mediterranean datelines. He is married, lives in Aix-en-Provence, and has published several books, including Double Cross: The Second Crucifixion of Solomon Lunel.
Seeking Provence, Old Myths, New Paths begins in London, where Woodsworth is staying at a friend’s boathouse Limehouse Basin. Despite the appearance of a lovely day by London’s standards and Woodworth’s perfect business suit, it unfolds along an unanticipated path. Woodworth is suddenly “without a career plan,” rudderless and not quite ready to embrace Peter Mayle’s version of life in Provence. To that point, Woodworth had spent most of his life slipping through the crevices of the “ordinary” path.
His Provencal wife, Jany, on the other hand, “…had an absolute and unquestioning assurance of her place in the world. She had permanence.” After decades of not spending more than two weeks in one place, Woodsworth was about to spend significant time in Provence. Was the South of France a haven for an indolent pleasure-seeking lifestyle where “Rosé all day” and lazing around the pool was de rigueur?
Throughout Seeking Provence, Old Myths, New Paths, Woodworth shares his soul-searching journey through the seasons and many family gatherings. Far from typical touristed areas, the parts of Provence that Woodworth visits with his wife and others are at the heart of life in the Midi. Reading Seeking Provence, you encounter wild and untouched places bathed in centuries of history, such as the Dôa Valley near Apt, Baronnies in the Drôme Provencal and a rustic cabanon in the Méjean calanque.
There are family gatherings centred around food; this is France, after all. To comprehend the French obsession with food, Woodsworth volunteers to clear tables at Le Siècle, a friend’s restaurant. It is here that he learns the culinary secrets behind the kitchen doors and all about lapin poêlé au muscat de Beaumes-de-Venise and mille-feuilles d’aubergine. As Woodsworth eases into living in Provence, he discovers regional specialties – olives, apricots, herbal tisanes, and limes.
Is life starting to make sense in these surroundings where you use all five senses?
Who Should Read the Book?
This book is for anyone who loves France or craves their first or a return visit to Provence. Woodworth’s Seeking Provence, Old Myths, New Paths is perfect for someone experiencing a career change or one of life’slife’s milestones. The book is an easy read but not light or fluffy reading. If you want to dive into the “authentic” side of Provence and dispel some of the clichés, this book is for you.
Where to Buy a Copy
Seeking Provence, Old Myths, New Paths is available on Amazon in hardcover, paperback and Kindle formats.
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