One Summer In France – Episode 22

Last evening had turned into an unexpected girly evening as the two of them had got to know each other.

“It’s a shame she’s only here for a week before she returns home. I think she’s a very private person, though,” Libby said to Agnes. “She didn’t really tell me a lot about herself.”

Suzette, who had assumed Libby was divorced, had been mortified when Libby told her she was a widow.

“You are so brave starting a new life here, in a foreign country alone,” she had said. “I do not think I could ever do that.”

Libby had shrugged.

“It’s an adventure. If it doesn’t work out I can always return to England. What do you do when you’re not ill?” She remembered registering her companion’s hesitant pause before she answered.

“I work in entertainment for the moment. I, too, am coming to a crossroads in my life. I have to decide what to do next.”

“Where do you live?” Libby had asked.


“Well, there will be lots of opportunities up there, I expect,” Libby had said.

Suzette had shaken her head.

“I’m not so sure.” Then Suzette had changed the subject by asking Libby about Chloe and her planned career.

The rest of the evening had passed pleasantly as they’d made each other giggle with stories about their different life experiences, although Libby realised later that it was her life with Dan that had been the main subject of conversation. Not once had her guest mentioned having a partner or a boyfriend in her life.

Chloe’s text message to reassure her mother about her safe arrival at Helen’s had been the signal for them to finally say goodnight and go to bed.

“You have made a new friend,” Agnes said now.

“You know, I think I have,” Libby said. “Agnes, can I talk to you about the guests who arrive next weekend? They’re regulars, aren’t they? Have you any tips on what they like and don’t like? They want dinner every evening.”

Agnes laughed.

“That would be the Bichets. They usually come at this time of year. You will like them. For dinner they like lots of salads and charcuterie, but they do not like garlic. They love chocolate desserts and they like their coffee really strong.”

“A non-garlic-liking French family? I don’t believe it.” Libby laughed and turned as there was a gentle knock on the door.

“Hi. May I come in?” Suzette said.

“Bonjour, Madame Patem,” Agnes said politely.

“Bonjour,” Suzette answered.

“How’s the ankle today?” Libby asked.

“Still painful, but better,” Suzette replied. “This is nice. You have guests coming in here?”

Libby shook her head.

“No. I’m going to keep it for when family and friends visit and the auberge is full. Chloe has a bedroom in my apartment, so I’m not expecting this to be used much.” She looked at the high-tech camera Suzette had hanging around her neck.

“You’re obviously a keen photographer. I wouldn’t know where to start with a camera that complicated. Has to be a simple point and click for me!”

Suzette smiled.

“It is easy, really. I came to say I’m going to wander out along the canal to take some photos. It’s such a beautiful day. I am not going far, obviously, but if I’m not back in an hour send a search party out, please!”

“Before you go, Madame Patem, Libby is coming for lunch with Bruno and me on Thursday – perhaps you would care to join us?” Agnes smiled at Suzette.

“Please call me Evie, and I would like to have lunch with you and your husband. Thank you. Libby, I’ll see you later.” Suzette left to hobble slowly down the canal path towards the bench at the side of the weir.



Margaret Scott

Margaret is a sub-editor within the Production Team on the "Friend". Her main job is to work on the stories and make sure the magazine leaves us in its best possible guise. When not doing that, however, she either has her head buried in the old “Friend” volumes or is out and about giving talks or going on Warner trips (fab!). She hates cheese.