Life in France recalled in fictionalised form

Rustington author and former journalist Patricia Feinberg Stoner draws on her years spent living in France for her new book.

Monday, 24th April 2017, 11:34 am
Updated Thursday, 7th June 2018, 6:13 pm
Patricia with her dog Purdey
Patricia with her dog Purdey

In essence, it’s all true – but fictionalised and humourised, as Patricia explains: “If I can quote an old news editor: ‘You don’t spoil the story for the sake of a few facts!’” Patricia trained as a journalist in Liverpool and worked for eight years in the industry before moving into advertising for a year until she was headhunted by Granada TV to become their international press officer for about 11 years. She then set up her own publicity company from 1990 to around 2003.

She and her husband moved to Rustington 11 years ago this August from their holiday home in France where they had adopted a dog “without thinking about it.” They couldn’t practically take the dog back to London where they lived: “We decided we would stop living in France and stop living in London and come down to Sussex. The book is about our time in France.”

Whilst there, Patricia started writing a humorous column for a property newspaper: “During that time I was approached by Harper Collins to see if I would be interested in doing a book. That fell through in the end because they thought it was too anecdotal, but the idea stuck.”

And the result is At Home in the Pays d’Oc, a volume which recounts some of their more bizarre – and often hilarious – encounters: the Velcro bird, the builder in carpet slippers, the neighbour who cut the phone wires, the clock that clacked and the elusive carpenter who really did have to go to a funeral…

“I loved being in France. I loved the French and I spoke French, but it was very strange. Even though I spoke French, I never felt really at home there. It was brilliant for long holidays, but the problem was that as the winters progressed, it got colder and wetter. We eventually took the decision to come back…”

Patricia joins three fellow West Sussex writers as they each launch their own book with a glass of Buck’s Fizz and a slice of cake on Sunday, April 30. The launch will take place from 10am-1pm in the Jubilee Gallery at the Arundel Museum, Mill Road, Arundel.

The book was certainly great fun to write: “I was laughing at my own jokes in the privacy of my own office! But I am very pleased with it, and people have said nice things.”

After the launch, Patricia will start to think more fully about her next book, which will be a collection of stories based around the same fictionalised place in France.

“I have got a bit of material left over. I am going to do a number of fictionalised stories of other characters. Some of them are already written. Some of them are in draft form. I am hoping it should be out in about a year.”

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