Sometimes author Jane Dunning, whose first novel Thirty-five Minutes from St Tropez was inspired by her love of Provence, wonders if France is in her blood because she was born in Guernsey in the Channel Islands.
‘I’m not sure,’ she says, ‘but I truly love our neighbour across the English Channel.’
Which, perhaps, explains why Brexit is testing her patience.
Her first visit to France was in 1978 when it had few motorways and advertisements for pastis were still painted directly onto old stone walls.
But her love affair with France really began in1990 and she has now stayed in more than 100 locations throughout the country.
Her first love is Provence: the inspiration for Thirty-five Minutes from St Tropez, a happy and positive contemporary story of family life spanning three generations.
The main characters enjoy all the benefits of the South of France, with other family members scheming to find a way to move there.
‘It has romance and stories about dogs,’ she says, ‘as well as a touch of travel writing when one or other of the characters visit Riviera towns and resorts.’
The sequel, Stolen Summer, was published in September 2017 with more of the same except that things start to go wrong for the family.
Now Meet the Author:
My name: Jane Dunning
My family: Just a lovely husband and my dear brother and sister and their families now, along with an elderly but pretty fit father-in-law. Feel very old now I have great-nieces and nephews!
I was born in…. Guernsey in the Channel Islands but I moved to England when I was six months old.
My parents met each other after the war when my father worked on the island as a shop-fitter, repairing shops after neglect, or worse, during WW2, when Guernsey was occupied by the Germans.
But now live in… Poole in Dorset, UK. I’ve lived here for 13 years after living in sunny Bournemouth. My family home overlooked the English Channel which perhaps is a clue to why I love the sea.
I like my home because it’s very quiet (adjacent to the cemetery!), contemporary and near to Poole Harbour, the second largest natural harbour in the world.
One thing I’d change about me… my eye-sight. I’m very short-sighted but would never be brave enough to have laser eye surgery so it’s a mix of glasses and contact lenses for me.
One thing I wouldn’t… My optimism. However, it is being tested over Brexit.
Best holiday? I’d just finished work at Bournemouth University where I was involved in course administration. Best job I had in 36 years!
I digress… We flew to Nice, drove to picturesque Menton near the Italian border and then spent a week in the tiny village of Apricale in Italy.
After that, we rented an apartment near bustling Antibes before finally moving on to Beaulieu-sur-Mer where we rented a small apartment overlooking the Mediterranean Sea and gorgeous Cap Ferrat.
It was the first time we’d ever had a holiday of more than two weeks so was very special.
Best thing about my life? Being retired and being able to spend time in France and Italy, both places I love. We started pet-sitting ten years ago, and spend a few months a year looking after dogs and cats.
I love dogs so I get the chance to fall in love with a new pooch every few months.
Worst thing? I suffer from skin cancer so roughly every couple of years, I have to go and have something removed, mostly from my face. It’s become such a regular thing, I say, ‘I need to see my dermatologist.’
I have been lucky that he is a lovely NHS doctor who has been very supportive when I’ve wanted to try other procedures to avoid surgery on my face.
Favourite meal? I’d won a ferry crossing to France so we decided to go to Paris for my husband’s 40th birthday. We took three friends and booked the Jules Verne restaurant in the Eiffel Tower.
We didn’t tell our friends and led them through the park towards the tower.
It wasn’t until we got to the base that they realised where we were going. We were escorted in the lift and eventually shown to our table which overlooked the whole of Paris, including the Seine, the Arc de Triomphe and Sacre Coeur in the distance.
As darkness fell, it was wonderful to see the lights come on far below. I remember the menu being written in quite complicated French but we had a delicious meal despite not being quite sure what we’d ordered.
It was a magical, if expensive meal, especially as what started the plan was a free ferry crossing.
Go-to companion for a night on the sofa? My husband of over forty years, Rick. We met when we were eighteen and married at 20. It was quite normal in those days!
What you don’t know about me? I am always caught if I do something wrong so I try not to.
When I was young, I was very rude to a neighbour and was made to apologise – very humiliating.
As I was a teenager, I told my poor mother ‘to jump into a murky Chinese lake’ – a line I’d read in a Man from U.N.C.L.E book. On that occasion, I wasn’t allowed to watch The Monkees on TV. I was distraught.
When I left secretarial college, I went for an interview at a medical practice in Bournemouth but it turned out to be a hearing aid centre, something that didn’t appeal to me, so I didn’t go in and went to the beach instead.
The problem was that they phoned my mother to find out where I was.
You can see why I’ve tried to be good since then.
My guilty secret? I enjoyed the novel Fifty Shades of Grey!
Visit Jane’s Facebook Page for more information and photos of St Tropez and other parts of Provence.