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on 16 July 2001
While the allure of a foreign land is a subject often plumbed by such attractive sojourners as Peter Mayle (A Year In Provence) and Frances Mayes (Under The Tuscan Sun), British writer/actress Carol Drinkwater offers refreshingly original musings on her love affair with southern France. She is particularly drawn to a tumble-down villa built in 1904; it is called Appassionata " a musical term meaning with passion." "I am in the south of France, gazing at the not-so-distant Mediterranean, falling in love with an abandoned olive farm," Ms. Drinkwater writes. "The property, once stylish and now little better than a ruin, is for sale with ten acres of land." Love, as has been said, is blind. In this case, an unabashed Francophile didn't see the lack of running water, save on a rainy day through holes in the roof, or moldering walls or the legions of insects who inhabit the long abandoned villa. She didn't envision the ponderously slow French property laws, the perplexities of nurturing olive trees, the idiosyncracies of the local residents, the vagaries of nature, or the amount of money needed to make her dream home habitable. Warmed by the Mediterranean sun she simply thought, "To restore this old olive farm, with views overlooking the sea. To create roots, and with this may be illogical, but it feels right." She invests all of her resources, including her only insurance policy, in what her friends and parents deem to be a scheme of madness, and stakes her future with Michel, a man who proposed the day after they met. So begins her joust with French law, her battles with fire and torrential rains, and her initiation into the complexities of olive farming: "A perfectly pruned olive tree is one through which a swallow can fly without its wings brushing the branches." In the process, she ingratiates herself with two teenage stepdaughters, adopts a number of stray dogs, and makes fast friends among the fascinating local citizenry. At times, she and Michel find themselves find themselves countries apart in efforts to raise funds for their television projects, their only hope of keeping Appassionata in their possession. Nonetheless, for Ms. Drinkwater all is a fantasy come true, as it will be for many readers who yearn to experience the magic of southern France. Part teacher and part torchbearer for all things Provencal, the author includes many snippets of history in her memoir as well as detailed descriptions of the processing of olive oil. She's also a gifted wordsmith aptly capturing with a phrase the scenes, tastes, and fragrances of the land she has grown to love. Armchair travelers will revel in this intoxicating visit to an ultra chic yet eternal corner of our world.
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on 21 August 2011
I have now read all of Carol Drinkwater's books on her life on the Olive Farm and her journeys to find the history of the Olive Tree. They are all wonderful books that make me want to read them over and over again. Carol writes in a beautifully fluid manner that draws you in to make you feel that you are there with her. I would highly recommend all the books in this series and look forward to reading the next in the series if there is one.
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on 17 August 2006
I picked this book up on the ferry returning from a holiday in France along with the next book in the trilogy,

I am now about 2/3rds through the first book and have loved every bit of it so far Carol is every bit as good a writer as she is an actress she writes with such passion and such a humerous but factual way that you are transported there yourself you are living the dream with them and sharing the ups and downs of such a huge project.

It is one of the best books i have ever read its funny, its sad, its informative, it makes you want to have a better life for yourself and its a great way to unwind the stresses of modern life and drift you off to another world as you sleep.
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on 29 December 2007
Carol Drinkwater weaves this wonderful tale of her blossoming life in Provence with Michel, the subject of her burgeoning romance. She writes so passionately and vividly that you can taste the plump succulent olives and warm crusty bread, smell the fragrant cypress trees and log fires, hear the cicadas as the leaves rustle and see the orange glow of the sun setting over Appassionata. Drinkwater writes from the heart in this intricate novel and entwines several humorous tales of her Provencal life into the story. Overall, this is a heartwarming, inspiring novel that transports the reader to the rural paradise of the South of France.
I urge you to get this book, it really will warm you to your soul and may even inspire you to follow your own dreams....
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on 15 July 2001
This is a wonderful tale of struggles to realise a dream.From the moment the couple explore the ramshackle villa for water, peal away the ivy in the swimming pool and discover old and fascinating trees we are led into the company of a sensitive and perceptive writer.Weaving her story around local lore and characters who become involved with her in her ambition to restore the olive farm to its former glory the author traces the patterns of life, its triumphs and its agonies.This is a story that manages to capture a wonderful sense of self discovery and of relationships and leaves one curiously anticipating each new chapter.This is a great read.
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on 6 September 2003
I first became a fan of Ms. Drinkwater when she appeared in "All Creatures Great and Small." Then, in a film with Hugh Grant and Alan Rickman, she did a scathing star turn. That she is able to write as well, so very well indeed - was a revelation, for 'The Olive Farm' made me immediately want to pack my bags and fly to see the verdant countryside she described,
I never believed for a moment that a sequel could be so much more engrossing and personal, but 'The Olive Season' is filled with the stories of visitors to the farm, together with the difficulties of bringing the olives to fruit, but it is her baring her soul in dealing with the trauma of a personal tragedy that tears ones heart out that makes this book stand out. She must be a fighter for she went on with her life and her farm, and in the end one knows she will come out on top. A joy to read and to re-read.
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on 29 October 2003
This book is one of the most enchanting books I’ve read for a long time. Carol Drinkwater reveals her talents as a wonderfully lyrical writer with the soul of a poet.
This is a book about her, her partner, their ever-increasing number of dogs, olive trees, and a cast of many entertaining friends and neighbours.
Carol and co stumbled upon, and fell in love with, a rustic but shabby olive farm in France. Despite nail biting negotiations they manageable to buy it. The Biography takes the reader, on a surprisingly inclusive journey, through the both the joys and steep learning curves of running an olive farm with no prior experience.
Simply put, this book congers up the rich and evocative language of an author who can make the sights, smells, taste, and magic of the Mediterranean become alive. It’s funny, it’s humane, and it’s worth reading.
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on 26 December 2001
I enjoyed this book in a a way I wasn't expecting to. True it's been done many many times before but here we have an author who is not afraid to admit her weaknesses as well as her strengths. Although it is written in a completely different way to Lisa St Aubin de Teran's Valley in Italy it reminded me of this book. Both authors share the same amount of modesty and do not acknowledge the bravery required in taking on such derelict houses!! They are both passionate about their challenges and they both make a huge effort in getting to know the local people and their separate cultures. On a personal level I learnt a lot about the history of the area and although I do not know that part of France I am now eager to join the masses and make a first visit. It sounds absolutely glorious, and I now know about some of the drawbacks. I found it very satisfying to learn more about Corsica, an area I do know and love and also a little more about Italian history. I became involved with the story and I am hoping that Ms Drinkwater will write a sequel as I really would like to know what happened next!! I hope that it will be forthcoming and that there will be good news about The Olive Farm. After all the tragedies I really do wish everyone, and that includes the animals,well and sincerely hope that the ending will be happy!!
I recommend this book to anyone who enjoys a little escapism from the dark Winter evenings of Britain, and who doesn't want to be taxed too much intellectually. Be warned, however it might become compulsive reading!
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on 13 March 2016
It's a long way from the Yorkshire Dales, but I think that I have become enamoured with Miss Drinkwater all over again.
Not this time for her acting ability, or for any character that She is pretending to be, but rather Her own steely determination and resolve.
This is an insight to a Lady who has spent most of Her life so far avoiding deep relationships and has been self reliant in Her travels, having found Herself suddenly head over heels in love with a wonderful man and their outwardly rash and plainly stupid, decision to spend a fortune they didn't have on a ruined farmhouse and acres of scrub.
Carol has a wide wonderful writing style, and I just know now that I am hooked and will be reading Her and charging my Kindle for ages yet.
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on 1 May 2014
Knowing the author for her acting rather than her writing, I was surprised and impressed by the quality of this. It is a wonderful, lyrical evocation of the Alpes Maritimes and the neglected olive farm which she and her partner fall in love with and restore to health. But it is also much more than this: the author shares her roller coaster emotions, hopes and sufferings and all of it seems so genuine and honest that you end up really involved and caring. Beautifully written too! Definitely one of the best written books of this genre recounting northerners' moves to the sun...even if you are not interested in such stories, this one will win you over!
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