A pictorial collection of our journey to France

Paris’s iconic Eiffel Tower

Caroline Nin sings a Hymn to Piaf in Paris last year.

Shakespeare and Company bookshop on Quay Montabello opposite Notre Dame

What better way to illustrate the exciting journey I experienced with my friend Jane in France than to show a few photographs. No explanation needed for the first photograph…The Eiffel Tower, or in French Tour Eiffel. French chanteuse sings Hymn to Piaf in a 13th century cellar far below the streets of Paris on the 50th anniversary of Piaf’s death.

The Loire Valley’s fairytale chateau of Chenonceau, arguably the most beautiful in the world, was home  to five remarkable women over a  300 year period  – and they preserved it for us to enjoy today.

Musee du Louvre on the banks of the Seine

Jane and I paused in a rose arbour before beginning a spellbinding tour of Villandry, in the Loire Valley which boasts the last restored Renaissance garden in France.

A new memoir, a new medium with Bolinda.

It is quite a foreign environment for a print journalist, whose medium has always been the printed word published in a daily newspaper. Instead, today, for the first time, I sit at a table in a small soundproof room before a portable lectern hitched up with an oversized, highly sensitive microphone.  Already, someone has placed a clean proof copy of my new book – Farewell My French Love – on the lectern.

Butterflies play havoc in my stomach because Ben, the producer, a lean fellow of middle-years, has placed sophisticated earphones over my ears.  He has left the room and now sits on the other side of a large double-glazed window and he speaks through the earphones asking me to read the first page of my book.  I wonder if I can stop my voice from quivering like my whole body.

However, with those first few words, which miraculously flow forth clearly, I begin to record my memoir for Bolinda Audiobooks. It is an exciting, unexpected experience and I do shiver in anticipation. Bolinda has bought the rights to market an audio production of my book and I have the glorious opportunity of reading my story of grief, loss and recovery.

Farewell My French Love will be available on Bolinda’s website on www.bolinda.com/aus/ from May 28.

 

 

 

Eastertime in Melbourne is always fun

Melbourne is always a refreshing lifestyle change from Adelaide. Here I learn all about the city’s amazing public transport system of trains and trams.  Train travel takes me between the two homes of two of my adult children and a bus will take me to the third child – a daughter in Williamstown.  Altona Meadows is way out along the Werribee line and Mont Albert is to the east along the Lillydale line.  I enjoy these quiet times before the joys of the five grand-children -two under five and three aged from 15 down to nine years old.   Roll on Easter when I shall arrive at daughter number one’s beautiful home in Mont Albert laden with drinks, entrees and easter eggs galore.  It is always hard to leave and return to Adelaide. But my home is in our fair city where the pace of life is still so much slower.

A lovely life after profound loss

A happy moment handling my books for the first time.

A happy moment handling my books for the first time.

What a happy day! My new book, Farewell My French Love, my second memoir, arrived at my doorstep and my pride knew no bounds.

Here is a photograph of my author’s copies. However, they will not be in bookshops until Monday, April 24. Harlequin non-fiction (HW Non Fiction), the publisher, has designed a wonderful front cover with a gold spine and embossed lettering.

So, dear readers, this wide smile reflects my euphoric mood. It has been such a long three-year process with a few changes of direction with my story and a few edits and I do think my bitter/sweet memoir of coping with grief following the death of my French-born husband,Olivier, is just perfect.

I need to tell you that on May 11, 2017, it will be five years since the day my beloved husband died.

We had only been married four years when he died of cancer.

I had been a successful newspaperwoman for 20 years. Although I had written many articles about grief and interviewed many grieving people, nothing prepared me for my own experience.

My children all lived interstate and I struggled with loneliness and slipped into depression – a terrifying state of being.

However, my story is also about friendship, the fun of travel and, of course recovery.

My friend Jane travelled with me from Barcelona toParis by train and our journey was peppered with many battles over food, fashion and French culture. It all tested our friendship, but it does make funny reading in hindsight.

In France, I retraced my honeymoon with Olivier in Provence and the glorious Loire Valley, and in Jane’s company, my sadness lifted.

But that’s only half the story. After Jane returned to Australia, I stayed alone in Paris trying to redefine myself as a widow and alone. I boarded with a woman in the Left Bank in a famous apartment block and I discovered life holds amazing surprises if you can successfully navigate that difficult rite of passage through grief. I learnt French at Alliance Francaise and found myself walking the same streets as famous French writers like Simone de Beauvoir. Finally, I understood that suffering loss is the legacy of having loved.

 

 

 

 

 

Church covered up child sexual abuse

LETTERS:

I have just finished reading the damning report into the negligence of the Anglican Church under the leadership of Dr Ian George towards protection of child sexual abuse victims.  The entrenched practice of cover-up is truly shocking and a betrayal of the concept of Christian principles.  Where protection of young children should have been the basis of pastoral care, unfortunately, for the victims, mostly boys, it remains the traditional response of the laws and tenets of faith. These were  written by men for men and in support of them. Most religions have a bias in ensuring control of women and children; this is a prime example of the abuse of that approach. We can only hope that the Church can make amends and be far more diligent in future.  It is time for all women to take heed of the great Harkness Professor of Theology Mary Daly from Harvard University who suggested in her aptly-named book Deliver us from Eve that the time for leadership positions in Christian and other faiths is now a critical need.  Ordained women priests, pastors and ministers of Christian faiths would be an appropriate step towards stamping out child sexual abuse within the ecumenical church community.

Dr Pamela Schulz, OAM.

Harlequin publishers buy my memoir

Signing my publishing contract with Harlequin at  the Sydney home of my agent Selwa Anthony (standing).

Signing my publishing contract with Harlequin at the Sydney home of my agent Selwa Anthony (standing).

The stars must be in alignment because March has brought astounding happenings to set my life on a new trajectory.

Hoorah! I have sold my manuscript, Bon Voyage Mesdames, to Harlequin Publishers.  Adding to the excitement, my agent, Selwa Anthony advised me of this splendid deal a few days after Writers Week here in Adelaide. This will be my second book following From France With Love, published 9 years ago. Yes, it’s a long time ago, but this second publishing deal makes me feel like a real author.

I flew to Sydney to sign the publishing contract on Friday, April 15 with a publication date of April 2017.

My close friends will testify to my jitters over the past 6 months since October when I despatched the second draft to Selwa. It had taken  me almost 12 months to complete a second draft.

My friend Jane, with whom I shared this extraordinary journey back to France after Olivier’s death, never doubted that it would be picked up by an astute publisher.  Yes, its unashamedly Francophilic, as I loved France even before I met Olivier,  but the journey was also the catalyst for my personal resurrection. Paris, worked its magic once more in my life, lifting me out of the  emotionally crippling black cloud of grief to  allow the sunshine in; to feel that delicious joie de vivre once more.  Writing about loss is timely, just like back in the 60s when it was simply the time to write about sex.  But so are the main threads of my  story – the richness of women friends, food phobias, travel adventures in France and how to learn to embrace life again, to laugh and have fun once more.

Once when Baby Boomers were young, the social script was love and romance, marriage, babies and the good life. But  that first wave, born in 1946, turn 70 this year and millions more are moving into their 60s. Almost overnight, Boomers’  easy ride along honey-laden highway of life has come face to face with loss.  Suddenly love is intrinsically linked not to romance, but to loss.   Loss of our ageing parents and for those unlucky ones, as I was, the loss of a beloved spouse.  Sadly, some people never recover from grief.  But I discovered so many pleasures in France that  slowly happiness seeped back into my heart.