Books on ProvenceInspireKeith Van Sickle

Christmas in Provence New Book by Author Patricia Sands

Book Review: The First Noël

Kat, Philippe and the gang from the “Love in Provence” three-book series are back, in a delightful new novella from Patricia Sands, The First Noël at the Villa des Violettes.

First Noël Patricia Sands

Kat and Philippe are looking forward to their first Christmas together at the villa, and what should be a time of joy becomes a full-blown “Christmas conundrum” for Kat as she agonizes over how to blend Canadian and Provençal Christmas traditions in her new home. And a shadow is cast by memories of the recent loss of her mother and their joyful Christmases together. Can Kat pull herself out of her funk in time for the holiday?

Besides the turmoil in her heart, Kat worries about the unexplained goings-on in the woods near her house. Is the Russian drug gang back in town? Her worries give way to panic when her beloved new pup Rocco, goes missing. Thank goodness for the wisdom of her friend Simone and her mysterious (and very helpful!) connection to the powerful Inspector Thibideau of the Paris commissaire’s office. And we can always count on Kat’s exuberant friend Molly for sound, sisterly advice.

The plot’s twists and turns and occasional heart-stopping moments will keep you engrossed in the action until the end. And the final scenes of a multicultural and blended family Christmas will warm your heart.

Patricia Sands is a master at bringing Provence’s sights, sounds, smells and flavours to life in her books. As a reader, you feel like you are with Kat and Philippe in the coastal city of Antibes where they live, with its narrow winding streets and charming markets and cafés. The trip the two take north to Strasbourg to visit the famous Christmas markets paints a vivid picture of life in this beautiful Alsatian city.

The First Noël is a delightful tale of love and friendship and a perfect book to read during this holiday season. Or maybe to give as a gift!

Other Holidays Reading from Provence:

Provence-Inspired Memoirs – These are memoirs inspired by those who have chosen to settle in Provence for a period. What is appealing about these books is that the authors have all visited more or less the same geography, yet each story is different. Some are humour-filled tales of expats trying to fit in, and others reflect the attraction of cultural differences.

Love Stories Inspired by Provence – A budding romance, a Provencal setting and voila – a love story. This list of books only begins to scratch the surface of the popular women’s fiction genre. However, we recommend these authors as they write beautifully, inviting you into the lifestyle in the South of France with their prose. These books may be fiction, but these authors have “done their homework” concerning historical facts, understanding local traditions and immersing themselves in the culture.


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Keith Van Sickle

Keith and Val Van Sickle made their first trip to Provence decades ago, and it was love at first sight. After that, they came back every year until 2008, when they began a part-time life there, splitting their time between Provence and California.

Over the years, they’ve travelled all over Provence, seeing sights both well-known and obscure. Their French friends have introduced them to favourite restaurants and wineries and picnic spots and taught them funny local expressions (not all for polite company).

Keith now shares this local knowledge in his new book, An Insider’s Guide to Provence. Packed with the Van Sickles’ favourite things to see and do, it’s a must-have for anyone travelling to this glorious corner of France.

Keith previously published two books about the couple's experiences in Provence. One Sip at a Time: Learning to Live in Provence, and Are We French Yet?, both are available from Amazon.

You can see all of Keith’s blog posts at Life in Provence.

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