Today I’m taking part in the blog tour for I See London, I See France by Paulita Kincer over at my Books Are Cool website. But since this is a book with French connections, in that much of it is set in France, I’m duplicating the post here.
I’ll begin with my review of this beautifully written and engaging novel, and then we’ll hear from Paulita.
“What have I done?” I silently asked. “I’m stepping off into this madhouse with my children.”
Which parent hasn’t asked themselves that at some point when they’ve taken drastic action of some sort? (I know I did during the early months after we moved to France!) This is the question Caroline poses herself when she decides to go to Europe with her three children after her marriage to Scott crumbles. She’d spent time in France as a young woman in Aix-en-Provence and Corsica and has interesting memories of the country, and especially of the attractive Jean-Marc, which are shared with us through the book. And so she is drawn back there, via London, Cornwall, Scotland and Paris.
The various settings are portrayed in wonderful detail – the scenery, the people, the sights and smells. The physical journey reflects Caroline emotional journey as she tries to decide what to do with her future, how to proceed from this point of marital breakdown. London is the businesslike, responsible Caro, whereas the wilds of Scotland, and the exotic Gustave, see her starting to shake off her inhibitions and worries. But it still seems her happiness prove to be as elusive and possibly fictional as the Loch Ness Monster. But then comes Paris, some self-realisation, and the next stop is Aix-en-Provence. She meets up with some people from her past, and at the same time finds her life is taking “a relaxing turn” and “is easier here”. And Jean-Marc reappears, and also Gustave.
And so briefly on to Italy and Scott…
The novel is absorbing, beautifully written and fabulously enjoyable. It also offers us a gentle reminder that relationships need working at. It’s too easy to take certain things for granted or get stuck in a behavioural rut. Teenage first crazy love is contrasted with married love and life, temptation with loyalty, self-indulgence with duty. There’s comedy, sadness, romance, bitterness, temptation, discipline – Paulita Kincer keeps us gripped. Caroline is a sympathetic heroine, honest and genuine, but most of all human. She’s not superwoman, although she comes fairly close at times in my opinion. She’s someone we can admire. Above all she’s warm and caring and real and we can see ourselves in her shoes.
Do read this touching, inspiring novel, available here from Amazon.com.
And Paulita’s website is here.
And now let’s hear from Paulita.
Interview with Paulita
Stephanie, Thanks so much for inviting me to be on your blog today. I feel like I just dropped by your lovely gite for a mid-morning coffee klatch. I know, tea for you, but I’ll have a café crème without the spoon left in the cup.
1. What’s the story behind I See London, I See France? Why did you write it?
This book began long ago when my husband and I first traveled to France with the kids. They were 2, 4 and 6 years old. I wrote a “memoir” of sorts for us. Thinking of how difficult that trip was, I imagined what it would be like to handle three kids on your own in France and how desperate someone would be to try that. That’s what became the idea for I See London I See France. Also, marriage can be tricky. Everyone has down times and up times. It’s easy to start longing for that French love who got away during a down time.
2. Please describe your novel in 100 words.
An unhappy American woman sells her minivan and uses the proceeds to escape to Europe with her three kids in tow. She’s searching for joy and thinks that a previous French love might be the answer. Along the way, she’s distracted by a handsome gypsy and the travails of motherhood, all in gorgeous vacation settings.
3. How does the cover encapsulate your novel?
Originally, I’d pictured a book cover with a bicycle leaning against the front of a French country house. When I couldn’t find that, I went with the iconic Eiffel Tower. It definitely lets the readers know where the novel takes place. This picture is especially meaningful because my son Tucker took it on a class trip to France last year.
4. Which do you prefer – London or Paris?
Definitely Paris – no offense to anyone who loves London. Most of the action takes place in France with just a brief touchdown in London, western England and Scotland.
The title for the book actually comes from an American childhood rhyme.
I See London
I See France
I See Stephi’s underpants
Since Caroline, the main character, is traveling with her children, I thought the rhyme would help readers make that link. I didn’t count on the rhyme not being universal though.
5. Which authors or books are you reading at the moment?
I just finished your book, Stephanie, which I enjoyed. I like to read memoirs set in France, but I really love any kind of fiction, usually written by women. Last week I read After Her by Joyce Maynard. Marian Keyes is one of my favorite authors so I’m always on the lookout for something by her.
6. When did you first realize you wanted to be an author, indie or otherwise?
I’ve always wanted to be a writer. I have notebooks full of pioneer stories that I wrote as a little girl. I used to take my notebook and a peanut butter sandwich and leave the house early in the morning to find adventures to write about.
7. Tell us briefly about what book’s coming next.
I’m writing a novel called Paris Runaway. It’s about a divorced mom whose 17-year-old daughter disappears. The mother learns she’s followed a French exchange student from Florida to Paris. The mother goes after her and learns a lot about herself while in pursuit of her daughter.
8. What one snippet of advice would you give to aspiring self-published authors?
Keep writing. Don’t stop to admire your work after you’ve finished one novel. The next one awaits, and they usually just get better as you keep going.
9. What does your family think about you being an author?
My daughter is 22 now and she is a great cheerleader for me. She tries to stay on top of my social media. My boys are 20 and 17, and they aren’t so interested in my books. My husband has to juggle his editor hat and his husband hat to offer me criticism and support. And my parents, well, it’s kind of embarrassing the way they are always trying to sell my books to people.
10. OK, enough of the serious stuff. What are your three favourite foods?
Chocolate, wine and cheese. Is that too cliché? Well, maybe that’s one of the reasons why I love France so much. Okay, how bout:
A nice flaky croissant with melted chocolate in the middle
Little squares of goat cheese on salad
A sweet dessert wine
Thanks so much for interviewing me for your blog and thanks to all of the readers who love reading about interesting characters who find adventures, whether within themselves or out in the world.
Thank you Paulita, and I wish you every success with your marvellous novel.
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