The first in Carol Drinkwater's bestselling series set on a Provencal olive farm.
"All my life, I have dreamed of acquiring a crumbling, shabby-chic house overlooking the sea. In my mind's eye, I have pictured a corner of paradise where friends can gather to swim, relax, debate, eat fresh fruits picked directly from the garden and great steaming plates of food served from an al fresco kitchen and dished up on to a candlelit table the length of a railway sleeper..."
When Carol Drinkwater and her partner Michel have the opportunity to buy 10 acres of disused olive farm in Provence, the idea seems absurd. After all, they don't have a lot of money, and they've only been together a little while.
THE OLIVE FARM is the story of the highs and lows of purchasing the farm and life in Provence: the local customs and cuisine; the threats of fire and adoption of a menagerie of animals; the potential financial ruin and the thrill of harvesting their own olives - especially when they are discovered to produce the finest extra-virgin olive oil...
Following in the footsteps of bestselling authors Peter Mayle (A Year in Provence) and Frances Mayes (Under the Tuscan Sun), Drinkwater has written a memoir of her flight to the good life in southern France. "All my life-long, I dreamed of acquiring a shabby-chic house and renovating it," writes the author, a British actress who starred in the BBC adaptation of James Herriot's All Creatures Great and Small. When she and her husband, Michel, spot a hillside villa with an olive vineyard in a village near Cannes, they defy common sense and become landowners. Never mind that it is moldering and insect-infested, the roof leaks and there doesn't seem to be any running water. Drinkwater's account of paradise regained involves bushwhacking through the intricacies of French property law and battling the elements of nature (wind, rain and fire), to say nothing of the eccentric local population. Alas, the book reads, by turns, like a catalogue of the author's real-estate woes ("We have a leaking roof!") and a ponderous love poem ("We are two embarking on this path together. Newly in love. Thrilled by one another... Investing in love, in one another."). Still, for all its false notes, the book describes life in the South of France with lush, voluptuous appreciation and successfully plays into our fantasies of the Mediterranean "land of liquor and honey."