Spending two weeks in the depths of the French countryside, in the very middle of France, the region known as the Creuse, is a very different kind of experience to life in Israel. It is almost like going back a hundred years (minus the inconveniences and plus the advantages of modern living), to a time when everything moved at a slower pace. What a contrast to the hustle and bustle of life in Israel. Not to mention the added pressure of the various Jewish holidays — Passover (Pesach) in this instance.
Added to the novelty of life without TV and without being really able to understand what is being said on the radio when they come along with their occasional news bulletins (we listen to the French classical music programme), is the joy of being able to sit and read a book for hours on end without being called away to some other attention-diverting activity. So I have managed to finish reading Hilary Mantel’s misnamed ‘Wolf Hall,’ which seeks to create a delightful personality for that arch-manipulator Thomas Cromwell, and am now embarked on Michel Houellebecq’s ‘La Carte et le Territoire’ (yes, in French, with the aid of adictionary). This received the Prix Goncourt in 2010 and has been widely praised by the critics (and, moreover, by various members of my French class). I don’t find it terribly gripping, and the main character is not very engaging. However, since some of it concerns the area where we are staying just now, the Creuse, and mentions towns and villages I know, it has a special fascination for me. At any rate, I am not one to stop reading a book once I have begun it, so I suppose I’ll persevere with this one, too.
Other than that, our life here is very peaceful and relaxed. The weather isn’t very wonderful, though the sun does appear for brief spells from time to time. But then the rain comes back, or at least clouds cover the sky, and the weather is too cold to be without heating inside the house (we have two log fires going during the day). A little bit of cooking from time to time, going shopping occasionally, and attending to various little chores are what occupy our days. Husband and I spend more time together when we’re here than when we’re at home in Israel. Which can’t be a bad thing, provided we don’t crowd one another too much. On the whole we rub along amicably enough, which is I suppose a lot considering we’ve been together for over 40 years.
And so my thoughts about life in France have turned into musing on married life. C’est la vie.