Patricia Feinberg Stoner is presenting an extract of her award winning book. ‘At Home in the Pays d’Oc’ is the funniest book I have read this year: I am still recounting her anecdotes at dinner parties. Forget ‘Victoria’, someone should serialise this book for the Sunday night audience – we all need a laugh!
It is an honour to hand over to, the wordsmith, Patricia Feinberg Stoner.
I’m so pleased to be able to share At Home In the Pays d’Oc with you. In this extract I’ve chosen the moment when, after a long search, my husband and I first set eyes on what was to become our home in the Languedoc. It’s my abiding memory, even after 30 years, and I still feel the lift of excitement I felt that day. I was sure then, and I am sure now, that when I first walked into the dusty, red-flagged kitchen, the house opened one eye and said ‘Well, you took your time getting here.’
Why read At Home in the Pays d’Oc? Look at the state of the world! If we are all going to hell in a handbag, then wouldn’t it be nice to have something light-hearted to offset the doom and gloom? I hope this book will encourage everyone to follow their dream and see where it takes them.
I hope you enjoy this tale of our adventures, and that the book brings you something of the sunshine and fun and laughter that our sojourn in the Languedoc brought to us.
With all good wishes
Patricia Feinberg Stoner.
Jean-Jacques, the estate agent, turned right, drove up a narrow street between ancient houses, turned the corner and stopped. We got out of the car. On the corner of the church square and a road so narrow you could have spanned it with outstretched arms, stood the ugliest house I had ever seen.
It was clearly old, very old. It was clearly cobbled together out of what had been two houses. It rose slab-fronted from the street, acres of decaying, yellowish crépis (plaster) bisected by sundry phone and electricity cables. A ridiculous stone staircase flanked by a stunted tree rose ungracefully to a pocket-handkerchief front terrace littered with debris and encrusted with cat droppings.
I stopped dead in my tracks. ‘Ohmigawd’ thought Himself to himself (as he told me later), ‘we’ve just bought a house.’
Why? There were prettier houses. There were certainly prettier villages – Morbignan in those days was, to put it politely, a little run-down. What made me fall so immediately, so irrevocably in love with this house in this village?
Did I see possibilities in the tree? In years to come it would grow so high that it could be seen on Google Earth.
Was I enchanted by the steps, crumbling and lichen-dappled though they were? Did I foresee their future when, cleaned and decorated with pots of scarlet geraniums, they would prompt visitors to exclaim ‘What a lovely house!’?
Who can tell? All I can say is, the heart wants what the heart wants.
More about this ‘tale of accidental expatriates’…
This is the story of how a small brown and white spaniel turned the lives of two English holidaymakers upside down.
Patricia and her husband Patrick are spending the summer in their holiday home in the Languedoc village of Morbignan la Crèbe. One hot Friday afternoon Patrick walks in with the little dog, thinking she is a stray. They have no intention of keeping her.
‘Just for tonight,’ says Patrick. ‘We will take her to the animal shelter tomorrow.’ It never happens. They spend the weekend getting to know and love the little creature, who looks at them appealingly with big brown eyes, and wags her absurd stump of a tail every time they speak to her.
On the Monday her owner turns up, alerted by the Mairie. They could have handed her over. Instead Patricia finds herself saying: ‘We like your dog, Monsieur. May we keep her?’
It is the start of what will be four years as Morbignanglais, as they settle into life as permanent residents of the village. “At Home in the Pays d’Oc” is about their lives in Morbignan, the neighbours who soon become friends, the parties and the vendanges and the battles with French bureaucracy.
It is the story of some of their bizarre and sometimes hilarious encounters: the Velcro bird, the builder in carpet slippers, the neighbour who cuts the phone wires, the clock that clacks, the elusive carpenter who really did have to go to a funeral.
‘At Home in the Pays d’Oc‘ has won a Five Star Book Award from One Stop Fiction. Here is a flavour of the other reviews:
Part memoir, part travel book, wittily written and engaging, At Home in the Pays d’Oc is so much more than ‘how to live in a foreign country’. Despite being penned anecdotally, it flows with the rhythm of a good novel. Ingenue Magazine
The author, Patricia, in this captivating book, takes the reader on a voyage of discovery, a celebration of the years she and her husband spent enjoying their French home. Susan Keefe, Living in France
What I most admire about the couple’s story is their attitude to life in another country. (While Many expats are the “Little Englanders,” the Stoners make a real attempt to integrate into the social system of their adopted village. Kathleen Lance, One Stop Fiction
Patricia is passionate about humour, food and writing; she loves all dogs and some people. She has written: ‘At Home in the Pays d’Oc’, ‘Paw Prints in the Butter: A Clowder of Comical Cats’ and ‘The Little Book of Rude Limericks’. Her writing is witty, entertaining and a joy to read.
Patricia is releasing her ‘Little Book of Rude Limericks’, on 15th November.
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