One Sip at a Time by Keith Van Sickle

Written by on February 13, 2017 in Book Reviews And Interviews

Adobe Photoshop PDFOne Sip at a Time: Can a two-career couple really pick up stakes and move to Provence? Keith Van Sickle tells a humorous tale of the adventures (and misadventures) of a couple of Americans who  quit their jobs, become consultants and split their time between two countries. Laugh along as they build a life in Provence, slowly mastering a new language and making friends with the locals over long meals and just a bit too much wine. If you’ve ever dreamed of changing gears and learning what joie de vivre is really all about, you won’t want to miss this delightful book.

Review of One Sip at a Time

Little did Californian Keith and his wife Val realise that in accepting a works posting to the French speaking Neuchatel in Switzerland, it would become the catalyst which changed their lives forever. Returning home after loving their five years in Switzerland, the couple decided to take the bull by the horns and become self-employed consultants.

With their new employment came the freedom to follow their dream, and for periods of time live in Provence, France.  They wanted to enjoy the brilliant weather, explore the amazing countryside, marvel at the fascinating architecture and culture of the area, and revel in its many culinary delights. So together with their dog Lucca, they headed for Provence, keen to not only enjoy exploring this wonderful country, but also to integrate, make friends, learn the language, and understand French culture, and customs.

Keith and Val stay in three different locations over three long spring holidays in the following years. Mollégès in the Bouches-du-Rhône, Ventabren in Aix-en-Provence, and Le Thor in the Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur.

As an English ex-pat living in France for over ten years, I found myself, laughing at Keith’s descriptions of some everyday aspects of life in France, things which you just have to accept when here, such as their obsession with tail-gating and need to drive at breakneck speed all the time, and the fact that only pharmacies can sell any medicinal product.

I loved so many things about this book, including his description of the difficulty they had with picking their favourites, when faced with the delicious breads, pastries, and gateaux available at the multitude of boulangeries.

What shines through in this book also is the enormous pride the French people have in their local produce and regional specialities. Throughout France there are some wonderful festivals and celebrations of local produce, and the French peoples’ patriotism and their fidelity to France is wonderful to see, always, if possible, buying local produce at the local markets which can be found in nearly every village, however small.

Keith and Val’s determination to learn the language, is admirable and sees them making many French friends and acquaintances, which in turn gives the reader lovely insights into normal family life in France and the importance they put on the family and eating together.

So what is the most memorable part of this book for me? Is it the anecdotes about French life, the exploration of the language, the author’s descriptions of the beautiful scenery? Or the fact that the observations are witty and rich, a feel-good, spirit-lifting read. Well, to be honest, I thoroughly enjoyed reading every page of this enthralling book and reveled in the nuggets of information it contains, but I have to admit, I am still fascinated by those tight white pants…

Whether you are looking for insights into ‘real’ France and the French people, or a light read, I can thoroughly recommend this entertaining book.

Available from Amazon.

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