coming home – a summer story – part one

by Sharon Santoni

I thought you may like a story to read during the summer, and I have imagined a tale about a woman who could easily be a friend.  The idea is that I post an episode each Monday until … well until I get to the end!

I am thrilled that my friend Jeanne Mckay of I Dream Of has joined me on this story,  and accepted to illustrate the tale each week with her beautiful watercolors.

You may like to know that Jeanne will be selling the originals of the illustrations, you are welcome to contact her for details.

I am also very lucky because  the gifted  Heather Robinson at Lost in Arles, has helped me editing the text.  Merci mon amie!


watercolour illustration of french house

As Catherine slipped into the taxi outside the railway station at Avignon, she was surprised to hear herself sigh, loudly.  Since she left her home in the Midwest, caught her flight from the States , and then the train through France, she had been travelling for over 20 hours, it was good to feel she was nearly at her destination. The relief was tangible; her shoulders relaxed and the nagging in her stomach subsided. Surprisingly, she was overtaken with the feeling that she was coming home.

And yet here she was in a country she had never visited, surrounded by people talking in a language she couldn’t understand, and she was alone; she knew nobody within thousands of miles.  How could she feel so comfortable?  So much had happened to change her life in the past month.

When the letter had landed in her mail box six weeks earlier, it took her a while to decipher its message. It was written in French, she was addressed as Madame and not one single sentence made the slightest bit of sense.  She attempted to read the pages with a dictionary and then switched to a translation site on the computer but neither method gave her the slightest bit to go on.

In her local town there was a woman who gave evening classes in French.  She found her telephone number and called her, asking if they could meet.

The woman turned out to be French. Perfect! Marie-Claire was her name;  she was about the same age as Catherine, married to an American and she had lived in the States for many years.

watercoliour illustration of coffee cups and air mail letter

The two women chatted for a bit in a coffee house. After a while, Catherine pulled the envelope out of her handbag, saying “Marie-Claire, I wonder if you could help me understand this letter… I don’t know who it is from or what it is all about.”

She slid the piece of paper across the table and watched as Marie-Claire perched her glasses on the end of her nose, and started to read.

“Now let me see, it is from a notaire – that would be a sort of French lawyer – he is in the South of France in a little town called…Callianes. Alors, what does he say? “Hmmm…Chère Madame, je vous écris pour….” She paused with a quick glance over her glasses at Catherine, then read on until she gasped out, “Oh my goodness!”

“What is it Marie-Claire?”

“One minute, please ….let me be sure…je vous écris….l’honneur de vous annoncerveuillez croire, Madame….” Here she looked up with a sharp intake of breath, clapped her hands before blurting out, “Yes, Catherine, it seems that you have inherited a house in the south of France!”

“What?! But I don’t know anybody in France, that can’t be right!”

“Well, the letter says that a Monsieur Paul Gates passed away three years ago and that his papers have taken a long time to finalise but that he has  left you a house in his will. The notaire doesn’t give you much information but asks you to contact him or to come to his office.”

“Who in heaven’s name is Paul Gates? And how can I contact this notary man if he doesn’t speak English and I definitely don’t speak French?!”  They went on to chat for a while about ‘who?’ and ‘why?’ and ‘what next?’ and as they parted, Marie-Claire repeated that she would love to help in any way that she could.

At home that evening, Catherine couldn’t stop thinking about the letter. When Bob came home from work, she planned to tell him about the surprise but he didn’t seem to be in a very good mood and she didn’t want him to spoil her anticipation.

Bob was often in a bad mood these days, distant and uncommunicative.  The more he shut down, the less she wanted to share with him.  It was a vicious circle.  It was just the two of them at home now that their children had flown the nest. There were no grandchildren yet and their kids were busy and far away.  Their life had become dull. She had tried to talk to Bob about starting a new life and doing more together but communication was difficult.  It seemed that all the fun had gone…They had spent so many years looking after the family and keeping the home ticking over and happy that they had forgotten to take care of themselves and their relationship.

They both had their interests,  beyond his work, Bob played golf and watched sports on the TV, she liked to patchwork and she painted a little. But there was no spontaneity and they were stuck in a rut, living under the same roof but each keeping to themselves.  Part of her longed to ignite their old flame, to fall in love all over again, to rediscover a new passion. But each time she caught herself thinking about her and Bob getting close, she’d glance at herself in the mirror, critically eyeing her outline that was a little heavy these days and sigh, “Ah… who are you kidding?”

When she woke the following morning, she immediately thought about the letter and the name ‘Paul Gates’. She waited until Bob left for work, then went upstairs to the spare bedroom and pulled down the old family bible from the top shelf. It was a big book, heavy and sweet smelling. Inside the front cover, she recognised her grandmother’s handwriting carefully listing the family tree, traced back through five generations.

She smiled and remembered when her grandmother had given her this book, saying that it was now for her to keep the family record intact.

The lowest line of the genealogical list was Catherine and Bob with the three children listed below.  Using her fingertip, she traced her way back up to her parents; her mother had been a single child, so no surprises there. Next was her grandmother Louise, who had a sister Jane but that didn’t help. Then a staggered line revealed that her great-grandfather, John Gates, had married again, two years after Louise’s mother had died. From his second wife, he had just one boy… and his name was Paul. Catherine smiled and said out loud, “Oh my! Here you are Paul! Monsieur Paul Gates.”

Catherine had no siblings or cousins to question about the family history. No matter how carefully she searched her memory, she couldn’t remember meeting anyone who was presented as the half-brother to her grandmother. Checking the family tree again to find Paul’s year of birth, she counted on her fingers – if he had died three years ago then he would have been 97 years old.

The prospect of inheriting a house in the south of France was hard to believe. She kept the secret for the rest of the week, thinking about it quietly, holding this little treasure inside her until she decided what to do.

After a few days, she met with Marie-Claire again and asked if she could write a letter to the notary for her.  Together, they drafted a short note requesting further information and also whether the house was occupied or standing empty.

She copied out the letter carefully on her headed paper and when it was safely posted, she knew she had to announce the news to Bob.  She waited until Sunday morning.

“Bob? I’ve had a wonderful surprise. I was contacted by a lawyer and it seems that my grandmother’s half-brother has left me something in his will.”

Bob buried his head deeper into the sports section. They had finished breakfast and while she cleaned up the kitchen, he always read the paper. Occasionally he’d call out a snippet of local news but on the whole, he read silently.

She wasn’t sure he had heard her. “I said that I have inherited something from my great-uncle Paul”.

He lowered his paper, “Oh, really? What did he leave you? A box of gold?” With a quick snort of a laugh he continued reading, visibly uninterested by the prospect of sudden and unlikely wealth.

“No honey, not gold. Much better than that actually…He has left me…his house in France.”

Now she had Bob’s attention. “Wait, what?  A house in France. What are you talking about, Cath? We’ve never even been to France! This is crazy. It’s probably some crumbling wreck that can’t even be sold for anything. Just don’t get your hopes up, ok? That’s all I am saying.”   Catherine chewed on her inner lip for a moment. Then, vexed by his reaction, and hurt that he made no effort to share her excitement, she made a rash decision. “Well I’m going. I am flying over to see it next month…Will you come with me?” She was surprised to hear herself blurt out those words so suddenly but not nearly as surprised as Bob.

There followed an uneasy conversation about cost, time and selfishness. The result was an awkward evening spent avoiding each other.

But once she had said out loud that she was going to France, the whole idea became feasible, obvious even. Tickets were booked, a couple of letters exchanged with the notary – which, while they didn’t give much more information about the property, at least galvanized Catherine into planning her trip carefully.

Five weeks and several coffees with Marie-Claire later, she caught a cab to the airport and boarded a flight to Paris, alone. She couldn’t remember the last time she traveled alone, and she felt excited and a little apprehensive, and she was unable to sleep on the long flight.

Marie-Claire had told her how to get from the airport to the Gare de Lyon in Paris, from where she could board a train south. She thought about arranging a stop-over in the capital – to at least visit the Eiffel Tower – but the south was drawing her like a magnet and she wanted to get there as quickly as possible.

She was very proud of herself for finding the train at the big, noisy station and gratefully sunk into her first class seat. During the couple of hours on the train she had a book to read in her bag but she couldn’t concentrate, there was too much to enjoy.  The beautiful countryside that sped past the window transformed subtly as they descended from north to south and Catherine repeatedly shook her head in disbelief that she had done it, that she was actually in France…

A couple of hours later, as the train doors opened at Avignon, she gasped at the change in temperature. The sun was shining brightly and she realized she was dressed far too warmly for this part of the world. She struggled with her heavy suitcase out of the station to the taxi rank. Once seated in the back seat of the car, she stammered out a timid “Bonjour” and handed a piece of paper to the driver. He squinted at the scrawled address, muttering, “Ah, la rue Montignac, a Callianes, très bien Madame, on y va.”

The taxi driver seemed oblivious to the fact that Catherine didn’t speak a word of French. As they drove out of Avignon and headed into the countryside, he never stopped talking, waving his hands and apparently pointing out the local points of interest. Catherine didn’t mind, instead she watched the beautiful landscape slip past her window as if she were in a dream.  Fields of lavender, rows of olive trees, and tiny stone villages grouped on hilltops. The longer they drove, the broader her smile ….she was nearly there, she was nearly at the place that would change the rest of her life …and in so many ways.

watercolour illustration of french house



If you missed part one of this story you can catch up here,

 part two is right here, part three is here ,part four here

 part five here, part six here and part seven here


Jeanne McKay Hartmann July 13, 2015 - 6:19 pm

Sharon, Thanks so much for asking me to take this little adventure with you! I love Catherine’s story and can’t wait to see it unfold over the summer. A big thanks to Heather, too, for adding her sharp eye. Let’s see what happens next… XOXO

Karen July 14, 2015 - 12:50 am

I love this story so far!!what a lovely idea. This sounds like my dream….I can’t wait till next Monday!!

Rhonda July 14, 2015 - 9:14 pm

~ Fun read so far! I hope Catherine’s new adventure brings much excitement to her new journey! Oh how wonderful it would be to be able to get a house in another country! ~ 🙂

Sharon Crigger-Stokan July 16, 2015 - 11:16 pm

Love France…love My French Country Home…and am loving this story. It is as if you have read my mind and my heart. After 4 visits to France (Paris, Alsace, Valence, Avignon), living in France has been a lifelong dream. Now if I only had a Paul Gates in my life! Can’t wait until next Monday…

Pip July 17, 2015 - 3:13 am

Monday is too far away!!!!!!

Bev July 21, 2015 - 5:50 am

Hello Jeanne,

What a lovely story this is, and your illustrations are divine. May I ask how one would go about buying originals and prices etc.

Warmest regards,

Bev Rumble

Susan Umberger July 13, 2015 - 6:35 pm

I love the story already! Please do carry on!

Gail July 13, 2015 - 6:38 pm

LOVE this!!!
One question…
Are you posting the story installments on Friday or Mondays?
In the beginning you say Friday and at end you say Monday
Todays episode is posted on a Monday!

Sharon Santoni July 13, 2015 - 8:09 pm

thank you Gail! Off to correct the mistake, I shall be publishing on Mondays


Jeannie July 13, 2015 - 6:42 pm

Oh my goodness. What a wonderful start to a this adventure. I suspect many, myself included, have daydreamed of receiving just such a letter. I’m already anticipating the next chapter. Thank you for inviting us along.

Christine July 13, 2015 - 6:43 pm

I enjoyed the first installment and can’t wait until next Monday!
The watercolors are charming.

Vicky from Athens July 13, 2015 - 6:45 pm

This is exciting! I can hardly wait for the next chapter in the story. And I love Jeanne’s beautiful watercolors – I follow her blog, too. I think this is going to have a very happy ending for Catherine! Thanks for taking me along on her adventure.

susan d rolfs July 13, 2015 - 6:48 pm

i can’t wait til next monday…so much fun and wish it were me….
happy fete nationale ….la quatorze juillet…

Jennifer Taylor July 13, 2015 - 6:49 pm

Oh my gosh. I love your story and can’t wait for the next installment. I also love the illustrations. Thank you Thank you!! What a generous gift. 🙂

torie July 13, 2015 - 6:50 pm

Great way to start my Monday. Thank you.

Valarie Bick July 13, 2015 - 6:55 pm

What fun! Thank you!

Hope Price July 13, 2015 - 6:57 pm

What a joy to have this to look forward to. I am loving it!

Karen July 13, 2015 - 7:00 pm

I am so excited to see what happens! Thanks for giving us a story to anticipate each week! I would love to be Catherian right now, starting a new adventure. I’m ready!
The watercolor paintings are Devine! Now, eagerly waiting for the next chapter.

Bonnie July 13, 2015 - 7:04 pm

Can’t wait to read chapter 2,

Adele Scheidt July 13, 2015 - 7:04 pm

Lovely story can’t wait for the next installment. I will be visiting Paris in October and am planning a visit to Avignon. Is that not a coincidence!

Lin Powell July 13, 2015 - 7:06 pm

Love, love, love it! Can’t wait to read more. It was exactly what I needed today to take me back to that part of France and spend the day reminiscing about our time there.

Amelia Kaminski July 13, 2015 - 7:08 pm

Sounds like a page from my life in many ways. Can’t wait to hear the rest of the story! Love it!

Andea Pap July 13, 2015 - 7:11 pm

This is wonderful. I’m already in France imaginary enjoying this wonderful story. Thank you

Kay July 13, 2015 - 7:15 pm

Loving this! Thank you for the summer read and Jeanne’s lovely illustrations. Can’t wait for the next installment!

Suzanne July 13, 2015 - 7:15 pm

Can’t wait to continue the story…….
And once again, I dream of moving to France. Seems that your main character, Catherine, and her husband have a relationship which is identical to mine with my husband these days. I am eager to see if her husband joins in with her on her adventure or if she continues on with it alone.

Cathy Luciana July 13, 2015 - 7:19 pm

Enjoyed this chapter very much. Read it so fast I surprised myself. Going to read it again a bit slower to savor all the details and yes I would love to receive such a letter!! My husband and I visited Paris one time and I can not wait to go back.

Joie Lynn July 13, 2015 - 7:27 pm

I have to wait a whole week????? You made the first installment too good.

danae sparrow July 13, 2015 - 7:36 pm

I can hardly wait!

Michelle July 13, 2015 - 7:37 pm

Love it, you know just what my summer needed. What a wonderful pick me up! Although Sharon, I’m with the rest, a whole week…. The drawings are a great addition to your story. This is going to be a story I will enjoy while I drink my espresso!

Patty July 13, 2015 - 7:39 pm

Do we have to wait a week? It was wonderful.

Leah Metz July 13, 2015 - 7:43 pm

A delightful story!! Can’t wait until next chapter. I have forever loved everything about France. I would so much loved to be Catherine. Keep writing love the story and your blog.

Frederica July 13, 2015 - 7:45 pm

I Love the Story!!!!

Karena July 13, 2015 - 7:58 pm

Sharon this is just thrilling; something I wish would happen to me so I can certainly relate!! Thank you so so much! Love Jeanne’s artwork of course!

The Arts by Karena
Stems Soiree

Sunny July 13, 2015 - 7:59 pm

I’m hooked!

Emm July 13, 2015 - 7:59 pm

Ooooh, you made me cry. ::sniffle:: This is already such a happy story, and so much the manifestation of a dream, and you’ve just begun. Eager for the next installment.

Sue July 13, 2015 - 8:01 pm

What a lovely beginning. I look forward to reading each new chapter. 🙂
I enjoy reading your blog very much as it seems to connect me more to our daughter and her family who have lived in France for seven years.

Mary Ann Fitch July 13, 2015 - 8:14 pm

Love the idea,too many books have been written with the same idea. If not an apartment that has been empty for 60 years or a small house in France and a marriage on the rocks.
Hope you head into a different direction.
Love the drawings.

Alice July 13, 2015 - 10:39 pm

Don’t let the negative get you down. I adore your creativity. Dream on girlfriend! Being creative is more important than a grand education. Isn’t that what Einstein said, or something simular. Am so looking forward to the next installment and the water colors. I’ll just close my eyes and dream on.

Sharon Santoni July 14, 2015 - 12:25 am


Debra July 13, 2015 - 8:22 pm

Oh, you are too cruel…making us wait a whole week for the next instalment! However, as they say, patience is a virtue. I look forward to next Monday.

Kathryn July 13, 2015 - 8:22 pm


Dawn Johnson July 13, 2015 - 8:31 pm

Yes! Already hooked. I could easily picture everything as I’ve taken that TGV south a few times. These are just the kind of stories my kindle is filled with. Can’t wait for the next chapter.

Madonna/aka/Ms. Lemon July 13, 2015 - 8:41 pm

Well, this was fun. Do you know how many chapters your story has, or are you still working on it?

I love the watercolor. It is just perfect. Now to stop by and check out her site.

Waiting for the next installment.


Tijen Köşetaş July 13, 2015 - 8:43 pm

I love your story already and eagerly waiting for the next part to come.

Vicki Lay July 13, 2015 - 9:19 pm

Love your blog. Love chapter one of your book and am looking forward to the next. I have never been to France but it is certainly on my bucket list and love French decor. Keep writing.

Julie July 13, 2015 - 9:45 pm

Great! I can’t wait for the next installment… 🙂

Bea July 13, 2015 - 10:23 pm

Wonderful! Can’t wait for next week!

Nancy G. July 13, 2015 - 10:34 pm

Delightful…both the story and the illustration! Looking forward to the next chapter of the adventure!

Marsha @ Splenderosa July 13, 2015 - 10:37 pm

I almost emailed you last night when I opened my email to find a message from Amazon that your BOOK WAS NOW IN STORE! Woo-Hoo! I will post about it ASAP. And, now this. Simply brilliant, simply splendid, and beautiful. I love that you asked Jeanne to illustrate for you. It makes it so much more meaningful, especially to me. Big, huge congrats, Sharon. I’m sending love from Texas…..

Sally B. July 13, 2015 - 10:54 pm

How fun is this?!!! Love, love, love it!!!

Mary/Indiana July 13, 2015 - 10:59 pm

Oh how Heavenly! Your story has elements of a special trip to rent a house in Isle Sur le Sorge with 3 girlfriends, none of us spoke French! It was August of 2008 ( brocante time ) and we did the same thing, Flew to Paris, boarded the TGV to Avignon and rented a car. We had too many suitcases so we also took a cab to the house! It was big with blue shutters like the watercolor! So far your story brings back some joyful memories!

Marilyn July 13, 2015 - 11:12 pm

Yeah! A summer literary serial–what fun. Boohoo–Next Monday seems a long time away. . I really enjoyed the first installment.

sheri July 13, 2015 - 11:12 pm

I loved the story, look forward to more! thank you

Evelyne Williams July 13, 2015 - 11:20 pm

You’ve caught my attention with a lovely beginning, looking forward to next Monday.

Cherry July 13, 2015 - 11:36 pm

Oooh! Can not wait ’till next Friday!!

Gretchen Bertman July 14, 2015 - 12:13 am

I love your stories! I am so glad we have one for our summer reading.



Meredith July 14, 2015 - 12:39 am

Well written, intriguing and beautifully illustrated. You are my new “Monday” friend.

June Renfer July 14, 2015 - 12:44 am

Can’t ‘wait till Monday and chapter two.

Ann July 14, 2015 - 12:45 am

I cannot wait for the next chapter on Monday. Love this story, the illustrations are wonderful too.

Jan July 14, 2015 - 12:54 am

I’m so excited about this adventure of Catherine’s and can’t wait to read the next installment. The illustrations are a delight. What a great summer surprise!!

Jane July 14, 2015 - 12:56 am

Oh, Sharon! I hope this weeks flies by! I will eagerly await the next installment of your book! Wonderful and evocative summer reading! Anon, Jane

Diane Ridgway July 14, 2015 - 1:19 am

Wonderful beginning, cannot wait for next Chapter…..

Fran July 14, 2015 - 1:38 am

Sharon, what a delightful change in your blog. You provide us normally with beautiful words and pictures of your real life. Now we have some fiction to read! I look forward to each week’s installment.

Grace July 14, 2015 - 1:44 am

Very good!

Victoria Hopkins July 14, 2015 - 2:14 am

I cannot wait for the next chapter. I am already hooked. Thank you . Cheers, Victoria

Karen C. Bueche July 14, 2015 - 2:44 am

C’est bon! What a fabulous idea and a wonderful story! Will be looking
forward to more next week! Coco

Phyllis Mays July 14, 2015 - 3:25 am

What a fantastic story! Can’t wait till next Monday. How great!!!

Willene Deason July 14, 2015 - 3:30 am

Love the story & the artwork. Can’t wait until next Monday .

Jane MacPhail July 14, 2015 - 3:47 am

Love it! Do I really have to wait a week for the next episode…………. 🙁

JaneEllen July 14, 2015 - 3:52 am

I’m sure glad Catherine went ahead to France without her stick in mud husband. She sounds like me, I’d go for it also. I’m pretty spontaneous person and part gypsy also so this would really get me going. If I had money for ticket, why not?
Can hardly wait for next week, going to put sticky on wall reminding me to look for your post. What an incredibly wonderful idea to write a story as you go along? And the illustrations, oh my. They add to idea of story so much. I’ll have to look up your book, will be happy to spend the money for it and my disposable cash is quite limited..Once in while I need to do something that’s not careful, is more daring and exciting. You’ve really got me going girl, good, needed something to nudge me out of my funk. You are to be deliriously commended for your story. Happy week

Nancy McDowell July 14, 2015 - 4:41 am

Absolutely love the story. Looking forward to the continuation. Thank you.

linda July 14, 2015 - 4:43 am

I loved Chapter one and look forward to reading more. My husband, daughter and son-in-law took a trip to Paris and Provence 13 years ago. It was wonderful. We also took the TVG from Paris to Avignon and rented a car for two weeks.

Sue Malizia July 14, 2015 - 4:49 am

Love your story so far, Sharon (as well as the others you’ve written)…and look forward to Mondays to find out what happens. Who’d ever thought I’d say that about Mondays. =)

Sheryl Kirk July 14, 2015 - 5:06 am

So much fun…an unexpected short story in installments. Thank you & continue on. I can’t,wait.

Luvy July 14, 2015 - 6:06 am

Lovely. Looking forward for the coming chapters. 🙂

Catherine Patterson July 14, 2015 - 6:14 am

I loved the beginning. I can’t wait for the next chapter! This was extra fun for me as my name IS Catherine and I really am from the Midwest! Hope my letter arrives soon;)!

Patty July 14, 2015 - 6:18 am

Discovered your blog only recently and it looks like my timing is perfect…I am loving your short story. I will be looking forward to Mondays.

Deb M July 14, 2015 - 6:21 am

Thank you. I love reading you stories. Looking forward to part 2.


Sandy @ You May Be Wandering July 14, 2015 - 6:35 am

GREAT Part One!!! I can’t wait until the next installment! And of course, sweet Jeanne’s artwork is delightful! Thanks for this!!

Hildred Sullivan July 14, 2015 - 6:41 am

Love the opening chapter. Love the watercolors. Might I suggest one small change for the sake of the English language? We would say ‘only’ child instead of ‘single’ child. Can’t wait until next Monday!

Carol July 14, 2015 - 10:05 am

Loving this, it’s my escape, always wanted to live in France…..

Marian from UK July 14, 2015 - 10:16 am

Go Catherine! What a lovely idea for the summer. It’s every girl’s dream and now we can live it with your story!

Mickey Wood July 14, 2015 - 12:46 pm

I love this! I feel like i’m on the trip with Catherine.

Randi July 14, 2015 - 12:52 pm

Sharon, what a treat! Loved your story at Christmas and now a summertime adventure! In anticipation of your chapter.

Mary July 14, 2015 - 12:57 pm

I have enjoyed the first chapter very much. Thank you for carrying me away on this wonderful journey. It is truly one of my own dreams! I look forward to the next segment.

Jeanie July 14, 2015 - 2:48 pm

Thank you, Sharon! What a lovely adventure!

Wanda July 14, 2015 - 2:55 pm

Think you for this first chapter. As I read it I was remembering my first trip across France . I closed my eyes and it was all before me again.

Sandra July 14, 2015 - 3:09 pm

Oh, I do love the story! I will be anxiously waiting for the next chapter.

Sharon, you are one talented lady. Your blog adds much to my days!!

Lin July 14, 2015 - 3:36 pm

Well Sharon you had me at the first sentence..always your stories are so fun and the characters are exciting. What a fun read…cant wait till next Monday!!

Del Lancaster July 14, 2015 - 4:06 pm

I think this will be a repeat of your other stories I have read. I enjoyed reading them so much and did not want them to end. In New Orleans, we call Mondays “Blue Monday”, but this summer I will be anxious for Mondays to get here so I can continue reading Catherine’s story! Thanks to you and your colleagues.

Nancy July 14, 2015 - 5:02 pm

Oh its perfect!
What we all dream about….
A house in the South of France….yes please…

Agnes Irene July 14, 2015 - 5:05 pm

As a Midwesterner who stills dreams of France, (and as a writer now living in NYC), this story really strikes a chord with me. I absolutely love this first chapter. It exactly corresponds to your blog and photographs – charming, beautiful, hopeful – with that touch of easy glamour that always finds its way into your work. I look forward to the following chapters.
Mondays just got better!

Donna Denney July 14, 2015 - 5:10 pm

Well, I can see that many others enjoyed this as much as I did! Looking forward to the next chapter!

Maude Ciardi July 14, 2015 - 5:16 pm

Love the story ! I keep seeing myself there Thanks . Looking for more Monday. I also enjoy your blog, would love to visit but will probably never happen. So I will keep reading and dreaming.

Ashley Gallagher July 14, 2015 - 5:18 pm

Perfect timing! Have been contemplating returning to the south of France!

Chrysanthemum July 14, 2015 - 9:52 pm

I hooked. Looking forward to the next instalment… I’m glad she does patchwork!!!

Mina July 14, 2015 - 10:14 pm

Thank you for this lovely story. Sounds like my marriage and me. Wish I could get up the courage to change my life. Hopefully I will still have health and energy after my kids are on their own….

Cynthia July 15, 2015 - 12:50 am

What a wonderful story! I am hooked. I cannot wait until the next chapter. I wish I had such courage.

Marilyn July 15, 2015 - 1:04 am

I love this story and the pictures. Now I must wait, oh no!

Mimi July 15, 2015 - 1:31 am

Lovely! Can’t wait to read what comes next!

Iris July 15, 2015 - 1:53 am

A great way to spend a quiet moment being transported into another life. How exciting! I can’t to read the next chapter.

Elizabeth Moyer July 15, 2015 - 2:22 am

What a wonderful first chapter, which totally drew me in! My 13 yr old son is heading to France, in the Chamonix Valley, for 3 weeks of language study and hiking this weekend. He’s been a Francophile since the age of 7! We have told him that we will return to Paris when he can serve as our translator!

I adore Jeanne and am actually flying across the country to visit her and some other friends I’m made through blogging. I, like Catherine, have not traveled solo in a long while and am excited for an adventure.

Here’s to following Catherine’s!
xoxo Elizabeth

Jeanne July 15, 2015 - 2:32 am

Can’t wait till next Monday to read about Catherine’s inheritance and in what ways her life changes.

Linda July 15, 2015 - 2:37 am

I am loving this story already! I have been to the south of France three times and have loved every minute of my time there. I have to say that my husband would promptly have been trying to buy tickets and arrange a quick trip to France if we received a letter like that.
I look forward to next Monday and the next installment. Also love the water colors!


Christine July 15, 2015 - 3:07 am

Love the first installment and can’t wait for more. The watercolors are a charming addition.

Marken July 15, 2015 - 6:17 am

You have me hooked and, “Oh, No”, now I have to wait for more. Looking forward to next week’s installment. Love the stone home with blue shutters….I’m always on the lookout for them when in France.

Sandra T. July 15, 2015 - 7:34 am

Wow-this story is wonderful! Can hardly wait to follow this grand adventure! I haven’t made it to France yet, so I have planted French Lavender in my front yard. It makes me smile every time that I see it!

Marie July 15, 2015 - 2:18 pm

You write beautifully Sharon! You’ve certainly got me coming back each Monday! Can’t wait to continue Catherine’s story. 🙂

Joanna Morgan July 15, 2015 - 7:52 pm

Dreamy! Can’t wait for the story to unfold 🙂

Sally July 15, 2015 - 10:11 pm

What an intriguing thought to inherit a house in a perfect location. Can’t wait for the next installment.

Lisbeth July 15, 2015 - 11:54 pm

Wonderful beginning to the story, I am anxiously awaiting for the next part as I travel in my mind with you to France!!

RebeccaNYC July 16, 2015 - 1:09 am

I have to wait until Monday for the next installment? WAAAAAaaaaaaaaa!

Jennifer Walker July 16, 2015 - 4:29 pm

Loved this story!! How can I have friends’ names added to your blog

Thank-you so much.


Tara July 16, 2015 - 9:52 pm

Can’t wait for Monday!

Dee July 18, 2015 - 7:07 am

You are so talented. I was drawn in by this story right away. I got transported in place and time, was sorry when I got to the end of the chapter. Loved your previous stories too. Thanks for taking me away. Ditto – can’t wait for Monday!

Carol July 18, 2015 - 4:51 pm

WOW ,I am so into the story and can not wait for the next chapter!

Kim St. Clair July 19, 2015 - 6:42 am

Thank you so much for the wonderful story, I read it twice, fab fab fab. I have saved it along with your other stories, they are golden rays of sunshine.


Patricia Cowan July 19, 2015 - 6:38 pm

Along with my French Roast coffee, can’t think of a better start to MONDAY…Looking forward to everyone!

Nicola Sheppard July 19, 2015 - 7:46 pm

This is wonderful! Finding your website today has really made my day. Can’t wait for tomorrow’s episode to cheer my working day and then next week, I will be in Normandy, sitting with a proper ‘crackly’ baguette and coffee. You should publish this! No end to your talents xx

The Enchanted Home July 21, 2015 - 12:35 am

Such a great idea…you are indeed a very talented storyteller, isn’t it wonderful where our imaginations can take us? Love it and want to hear more, more more!!!

LA CONTESSA July 21, 2015 - 4:51 pm

LATE To the SOIREE but wanted to READ when I could enjoy……………so on this last day of 54 I sit with my CAFE in hand reading and ENJOYING VERY VERY MUCH!!!!
Do I see a little of myself here………….OUI!!!
I will be back MONDAY!
What a TEAM you assembled for the PRODUCTION HERE……..only the BEST!
How many more days for the BOOK???Me think you said AUGUST!
TRA…LA……….around the corner!!!!

Maria July 24, 2015 - 12:02 pm

Dear Sharon, what would we do without our imagination and creativity? You’ve got plenty of it, and thanks to this ive enjoyed your French fiction. Such a wonderful storyteller you are! Tres chic! Merci bien, Maria x x

Susan Leahy July 24, 2015 - 5:05 pm

Thoroughly engaged by Chapter 1! And now into Chapter 2.

Laura July 25, 2015 - 1:59 pm

I just love this! 🙂

Caterina B August 12, 2015 - 12:23 am

My goodness! 125 comments. You will probably never get to read mine. Anyway, I had to
laugh out loud when I read part one. My name is Catherine and my hubby’s name is Bob.
We also have 3 children who have fledged and flown from the nest. I sent the link to my husband at work so he could also read the story. He knows that I would love to have a house in France but my grandmother had only one brother and he died a long time ago so I don’t expect any wonderful surprises from France. Thanks so much for the story and I must now continue reading the next chapters. Oh…..if only! Ojala! as they say in Spanish.


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