Julianna Baggott's 5 Do's and a Do-Over

Every now and again, a book just grabs you and won't let go. You pop open the cover and start to read, getting more excited with each written word. And you can't stop reading. (Not for anything! Not even reality TV-or anyone-even the husbands). Which is exactly what happened when we read The Provence Cure for the Brokenhearted by Bridget Asher (a.k.a. Julianna Baggott). It has the perfect blend of romance, humor and love. Synopsis:

“Every good love story has another love hiding within it.”

Brokenhearted and still mourning the loss of her husband, Heidi travels with Abbott, her obsessive-compulsive seven-year-old son, and Charlotte, her jaded sixteen-year-old niece, to the small village of Puyloubier in the south of France, where a crumbling stone house may be responsible for mending hearts since before World War II.

There, Charlotte confesses a shocking secret, and Heidi learns the truth about her mother’s “lost summer” when Heidi was a child. As three generations collide with one another, with the neighbor who seems to know all of their family skeletons, and with an enigmatic Frenchman, Heidi, Charlotte, and Abbot journey through love, loss, and healing amid the vineyards, warm winds and delicious food of Provence. Can the magic of the house heal Heidi’s heart, too?

We're now huge fans of Julianna Baggott, Bridget Asher and N.E. Bode (also her pen name) who collectively have written seventeen books in the last ten years! She's also an essayist and a poet! Oh and she teaches too. Next time we complain about having too much on our plates, we need to think about her!

And now you can get a chance to fall for her too! Leave a comment and be entered to win one of five copies of The Provence Cure for the Brokenhearted. We'll randomly select the winners after 6:00 PM PST on Friday, April 1.


5 DO'S

1.  Be foreign. Save up all spare change, put it in a jar marked travel, and get your butt somewhere else in the world. Being foreign makes you love where you’re from, makes you see the world with fresh eyes, creates new synapses in your brain, and makes you empathize with foreigners in your own land. To write THE PROVENCE CURE FOR THE BROKENHEARTED, we researched by renting a tiny ancient house in a tiny village on a shoestring budget – with five young kids in tow. I’d blow that money again, in a heartbeat.

2.  If you can’t be foreign, import foreigners. When Dave and I were first married and having kids, we lived WELL below the poverty level. In fact, we aspired to the poverty level. We said, “One day, poverty level, we will meet you!” To make ends meet, we rented out two of the three bedrooms in our rented condo to foreigners, running a B & B of sorts. I served cheap dinners – like frozen fish sticks – proclaiming to represent “American cuisine.” We survived and our world view got broader.

3.  Be alone sometimes. With technology, no one ever really has to be alone much. They’ve got their celly, their smart phone. They can always chat, text, IM. But being alone is hugely important to the creative process and to solving problems – professional, creative, personal. Learn how to be alone in your own head and develop that inner voice. You’ll need it.

4.  Quit. Americans overvalue “sticking it out.” We’re always saying, “Don’t give up! You can’t quit now! Never say die!” But there are a lot of bullshit things that you SHOULD quit. The Art of Quitting is a beautiful and crucial thing to master. Saying no to one stupid thing that you actually kind of hate is saying yes to the possibility of something you love. (I include bad relationships, bad jobs, goals that were forced on you instead of coming up from within.) Sometimes you shouldn’t stick it out. You should give up. You should say die – so some other part of you can come alive.

5.  Practice empathy. The world would be a better place if people would practice lifting their heads up and imagining what it’s like to be someone else. It takes effort to do this kind of imaginative grunt work. It’s easier to live within your own goggles. But it leads to bad decisions that haunt all of us. Take off the self-centric goggles and look at the world through someone else’s eyes. It makes for better art, politics, scientific invention, and personal lives.


If I could go back and do-over, I’d be bolder. I know we’re going to look back and be scandalized at the inequity that goes on all around us, that we accept – the racial inequity in education; the acceptability of hateful rhetoric against gays, lesbians, the transgendered; the obvious lack of women in certain jobs – and the next generation is going to be sickened by us. We’ll say the things the generation before us said, “That was just the way it was.” I’d go back and try to see more clearly the world that we have set against the world we can make, and I’d push harder for that world. In fact, that’s a do-over that can start – for each of us – now.

To find out more about this talented author, check out her website and blog.

Thanks, Julianna! xoxo, L&L