A lush, evocative, debut novel set in Provence about the people who grow up and live and remain in two tiny neighboring villages—from the Nazi occupation to the present day—in particular, one man and one woman who have yet to find love.
In the south of France farm life unfolds with the rhythm of the seasons. But the lives of these villagers in Amour Provence reflect the reality that the midi is a place of extremes, the summers of unbearable heat and the winters that are often rude and harsh. Like the climate, the characters find themselves swept away by storms of unannounced and devastating intensity. A vintner’s adolescent son has a passionate romance with his schoolmate’s mother and they suffer different and enduring consequences. A young Arab woman forced into an arranged marriage, learns that life in the land of Liberté and Egalité can be just as confining as in her own country. A French woman who has lived abroad for many years returns home and discovers that certain members of her family are not pleased to have her back. An unexpected encounter with his past brings new sparks of life to a man who believed he had lost everything, including the only woman he ever loved.
In these two small adjacent villages in the South of France, characters lead lives that overlap and intertwine. Many are close neighbors who have known each other from childhood, linked by ancestors who clung for centuries to their patrimony, the land, which had always been poor, but is now a source of wealth drawn from wine, olives, and tourists. They know a great deal about each other’s hidden passions and weaknesses. Age-old resentments and closely guarded secrets retain their hold but are never to be discussed. Amour Provence is a portrait of lives deeply lived, shadowed by the past, against the backdrop of a region and a nation gripped by change.
About the Author
Constance Leisure began her career as an editor at Ladies Home Journal and Family Circle before moving to Paris with her husband and two young children who were raised and educated there. Early on, while on a trip to Provence to fill up the trunk of the family car with wine, they stumbled upon and purchased an old farmhouse with an enchanted garden in a small wine village in the Vaucluse. Little by little, the house in Provence became the center of her family life and her creative imagination. She lives there and in Litchfield, Connecticut. Amour Provence is her first novel.
"Gorgeously written and heartbreakingly beautiful, Constance Leisure’s eloquent Amour Provence is about love, loss, and the changes two small French villages and their inhabitants go through, from the Nazi occupation to today. This is a profound novel about the struggle to survive both history and buried secrets, and the yearning to keep ties to both the land and to each other. So mesmerizing." — Caroline Leavitt, New York Times bestselling author of Is This Tomorrow and Pictures of You
“Constance Leisure expertly conjures up a village in Provence and its inhabitants – their secrets, faults, and graces – yet best still are her vivid descriptions of the platane trees, the cassoulet, the grapillage, the mistral and soleil that define Provence and tempt this reader to pick up sticks and move there demain.” — Lily Tuck, author of The Double Life of Liliane
"Constance Leisure offers us a carefully woven narrative of contemporary life in the tiny wine villages of northern Provence. Her characters are sensitive, sad, but bold too, brought to life through their loves, hates, feuds, infidelities, and haunting regrets. The vineyards, olive groves, lavender fields, church steeples, and village cafes all play starring roles in a novel that richly reveals the daily rhythms of French village life." — Patricia Wells, author of The French Kitchen Cookbook and director of the cooking school At Home with Patricia Wells
“Leisure strikes a smart balance between the private and the public, ruminating at length on the ways the two spheres bleed together…a fascinating exploration of rural dynamics—particularly given the class, race, and cultural divisions in the story.” — Publishers Weekly
"Beautiful and romantic." — Booklist
"Amour Provence begs to be read on a warm, sun-drenched patio scented with lavender, surrounded in soft cushions, with a glass of vendange tardive in easy reach...Leisure paints an inviting picture, small-town warts and all. Pour another glass of wine and enjoy." — Historical Novels Review