Top positive review
4 people found this helpful
Take me to the South of France- right now! (4.5 stars)
on 4 January 2012
First of all, I haven't read `The Olive Farm' but I will now- to find out how actress/author Carol and her film-producer partner Michel initially came to purchase their own piece of Provencal paradise! Lucky them- I am very envious they own such a wonderful home in such a glorious location, though thankfully I don't think you have to read the first book to get hooked on this one as I got into it straight away.
I was first drawn to this book by the seductive picture of the beautiful landscape on the front cover and was hoping it would be a bit like Peter Mayle's type of writing with French food, scenery and customs depicted and thankfully it was very reminiscent of that, only a bit more personal. Despite the difference in countries it was actually more similar to `Under the Tuscan Sun' (one of my favourite travelogues) with the Mediterranean lifestyle practically seeping from the pages, funny anecdotes and glorious descriptions of food and the surroundings interwoven in the text. It's not all bright and sparkly though- there are frustrations depicted with maniacal French bureaucracy as well as small-town corruption, which I found fascinating to read about.
Though the book mostly recounts Carol and Michel's journey in trying to have their olive oil specially certified with an AOC, it does touch on other subjects; their unusual wedding in Polynesia, water-divining, bee-keeping and vegetable gardening amongst other things. I particularly enjoyed the details of the vegetable gardening and cooking as these are my hobbies too. It is all recounted in a very down to earth, chatty manner which I welcomed and thankfully didn't seem at all preachy when it went into details of aspects of local history either- or the wealth of detail included about olive farming. There's nothing worse than a travelogue reading like a textbook.
Other reviewers have said that perhaps Carol comes across as a bit `celebrity' or a bit smug but I didn't really feel this through the writing at all, though she does talk about Cannes and its festivals in a lot of detail as well as acting parts she has taken on and a few famous people she encounters in some of the exclusive South of France resorts- to be fair, she's a well-known actress and runs her own Olive Farm in one of the most beautiful parts of the world, I would probably be a bit smug too! Good luck to her, she's been through a lot of tough stuff, some of which was encompassed in this book and was really upsetting to read about.
For me, the only thing that could have made this book better would have been the inclusion of some of the yummy sounding recipes of the meals that Carol discusses in the chapters. They sounded absolutely delicious! Recommended if you enjoy well-written travelogues or are looking for a novel to take you away to another sunnier place on a dull winter's day. I will be reading more by Carol in future- probably if I go somewhere hot and Mediterranean for my holidays, so I don't feel quite as jealous of her wonderful lifestyle!