A Year In France – Episode 02

Supplied © A Year In France illustration by Mandy Dixon

Maddy, her best friend since school, although envious of Julia’s change of fortune, was the person who’d cautioned her about the quickly arranged wedding and the life she was throwing herself into.

“You barely know him. Giving up your career and being a kept woman in a foreign country isn’t necessarily the right choice for you,” Maddy insisted. “You’re always out attending some party or launching a product.”

Julia laughed.

“I know, but it’ll be a relief to step off the merry-go-round. I’m still going to have a social life. Philippe knows lots of people.

“We’re only going to be an hour away from the Riviera so I’ll be able to go shopping on rue d’Antibes in Cannes whenever I want. That can’t be bad, can it?”

“What are you going to do all day?” Maddy asked. “Turn into a Stepford wife?”

“Of course not,” Julia answered. “I have to relearn French. Philippe has promised me once this book is finished we can go house hunting for a new home. I’m going to be busy with different things. I’ll get a job once everything has settled down.”

Taking her coffee out into the sun-room now, Julia thought about the changes the last six months had brought to her life.

Since giving up work days before their whirlwind wedding, she’d revelled in the knowledge that no-one was imposing deadlines on her. Her time was her own to spend as she pleased.

Arriving back in France after their honeymoon, her days had filled with homespun activities and acquired their own routine deadlines without her noticing.

Breakfast with Philippe before he disappeared into his study; a walk down to the market for fresh fruit and veg, then returning to tidy the cottage. Lunch was simply a bowl of home-made soup and a baguette.

The midday closing of shops meant she had to get to the village before noon if she wanted anything at the small supermarket.

Another deadline was preparing and cooking dinner for the two of them.

The only flaw in her life was not spending as much time as she’d expected with Philippe. If she were honest with herself, she was beginning to feel a bit lost.

Her initial enjoyment at not having to adhere to a daily work routine was beginning to wear off.

From an early age her mum had drummed the need to be her own woman into her. This independent streak of hers meant she would always want to have her own money.

With her mother’s insurance money still untouched and a savings account of her own, it did mean getting another job wasn’t high on her agenda, but she definitely needed more to do. Contributing to their finances was essential.

She missed Maddy, too. She felt they were drifting apart as the course of her life changed.

Still, it was only a few weeks until the London Book Fair when she and Maddy could have a good catch-up.

She must remember to ask Philippe which hotel they would be staying in so she could let Maddy know.

Thoughtfully Julia finished her coffee and walked back into the kitchen. At least this morning she was going to be busy.

She was booked in with a Madame Colbert in the village for her first French lesson since she was in the sixth form.

Making new friends and being accepted into the community was difficult when you couldn’t speak the language, so brushing up on her French was a top priority for her new life.

After the lesson she planned to investigate the shop on the road outside the village, which was called A Taste Of The Countryside. Maybe tonight she’d talk to Philippe about finding something to do.

Abigail Phillips

Abbie is the newest member of the fiction team at the "Friend." She loves how varied the role is - every day is different and there is always a new story to read. She is keen to work closely with established writers and discover new writers, too.