Joie de Vivre
Joie de Vivre

My French Affair

How a Kiwi woman found her joie de vivre

(From a media release, Random House Publishing)

When Amanda Taylor-Ace’s 14 year old son started mixing with a bad crowd and her life in Auckland needed a shake-up, she did something few of us would have the guts to do. She packed up her son and her life and moved to France.

Amanda Taylor-Ace’s philosophy is ‘joie de vivre unlimited’ - living life with unlimited joy. So when, in 1996, Amanda Taylor-Ace looked at her life and decided she wanted more, she packed her bags and took her son to live in the south of France for a year. But life never does run smoothly and My French Affair is the story of how and why she decided to stay and how her new life unfurled.

After desperately searching for that perfect house and falling in love with a Chateaux only to have her dreams dashed by a sexist sheik, Amanda found two eighteenth-century villas in the small village of St Maximin. Not content with simply living there, she decided to renovate the houses and convert them into guest accommodation. As you can imagine the French have their own way of doing things and Amanda had a lot to learn. Not only did she have to work with French tradesmen (both good and bad), and deal with French bureaucracy without speaking fluent French, she also had to get to know the local villagers, forge new friendships, renew old ones and of course enjoy lovers the way only the French can do. Throughout all this Amanda started bringing in paying guests from around the world, both to stay in at Maison de Maîtresse and to learn the art of french cuisine in her kitchen.

Throughout My French Affair Amanda tells her story frankly but with humour. You will feel for her when she doubts her decision that saw her move to the other side of the world and revel in her joy when she finally finds Maison de Maîtresse. Through Amanda you will experience french life and discover what it’s really like to start over in a new country. And for those who are in love with French food Amanda has included some of her favourite recipes.

“In the twelve years I’ve lived in the south of France as a single woman running my own business, there have been moments of joy and sorrow, of simplicity and complication, fun and frustration, passion and disappointment... and I’ve relished them all.”