Bette ~ Welcome, Patricia! We’re eagerly waiting the publication of your next novel, Drawing Lessons, on October 1st. ! Would you give us a sneak peek into the story? We fell in love with the characters in your Love in Provence series, but I understand this tale is very different.
Patricia ~ Thanks, Bette. I would love to tell you about Drawing Lessons. You are right. This story is about an entirely different set of characters. However, what is similar is that the main character is not a young woman and the story takes place in a beautiful part of the south of France. This time the setting is the ancient town of Arles and its surroundings. This includes the wild and fascinating Camargue area, famous for its white horses, black bulls, pink flamingos, salt marshes and beaches. And French cowboys … but more about that later.
Bette ~ Sounds intriguing! I know you always spend time in areas you write about. Have you visited that part of France often?
Patricia ~ Yes, I’ve been there several times and last year I spent two weeks in the heart of Arles, doing research and taking photographs. I was also fortunate to be introduced to a serious photographer who knew the Camargue area well. He taught me a great deal about the traditions and history as we drove all through this unique region.
Bette ~ Why are your characters in this area. Do they live there?
Patricia ~ Well, the protagonist, Arianna Papadopolous-Miller has arrived from Toronto to attend a two-week artists’ workshop along with seven strangers. But she is reeling from a traumatic situation in her life and is not certain she should even be there. After her first day, she can only stare at her blank canvas, feeling no inspiration. She even calls the airline to see if she can change her ticket and return home. That evening a conversation with the captivating Juliette, who is teaching the course, encourages Arianna to stay. As the stories unfold of the others in the course, Arianna learns something from each one of them. When a wild Mistral, the famous French wind, keeps them all housebound for two days, the group bonds in the kitchen!
Bette ~ Ahem, you did mention French cowboys … should we know more about them?
Patricia ~ Absolument! They are called gardians and they play a very special role in the history of the Camargue as they ride the white horses and work with the bulls. Jacques de Villeneuve is one, and also a respected artist. He is a special guest one day at the workshop and invites everyone to visit and explore the Camargue with him on the weekend. And the story continues from there in ways Arianna could never have imagined.
Bette ~ I feel you are going to take us on another armchair vacation!
Patricia ~ I hope so! I also would like to share that I will be writing more about the Love in Provence characters in the coming year. I constantly receive requests to do so and am excited about spending time with Kat and Phillippe and all the gang again!
Note: Shortly after we did this interview I had an opportunity to read an ARC copy of “Drawing Lessons” and I can honestly say it was a totally awesome story. In it Patricia Sands will break your heart, carry you off to the South of France to recuperate and then before you leave have you fall in love. And if you appreciate the art of French cuisine, you are in for an extra special treat. A five star read!
The author of the Love in Provence series returns to the South of France with a poignant portrait of a woman who must learn how to create a new life for herself…
Sixty-two-year-old Arianna arrives in the South of France for a two-week artists’ workshop full of anticipation but burdened by guilt. Back home in Toronto, she has been living with the devastating diagnosis of her husband’s dementia and the heartbreak of watching the man she has loved for decades slip away before her eyes. What does her future hold without Ben? Before her is a blank canvas.
Encouraged by her family to take some time for herself, she has traveled to Arles to set up her easel in the same fields of poppies and sunflowers that inspired Van Gogh. Gradually, she rediscovers the inner artist she abandoned long ago. Drawing strength from the warm companionship and gentle wisdom of her fellow artists at the retreat—as well as the vitality of guest lecturer Jacques de Villeneuve, an artist and a cowboy—Arianna searches her heart for permission to embrace the life in front of her and, like the sunflowers, once again face the light.