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Hérisser: from a prickly critter...to a verb to help describe an emotion we all felt last week

Se livrer: Jean-Marc and I are writing a book!

Jean-Marc and I are finally telling the story of why we packed up and left our beloved vineyard. Our memoir is titled The Lost Gardens and the first part is online now. This book-in-progress can be purchased via the link at the end of this post.

THE LOST GARDENS: a memoir by Jean-Marc and Kristi Espinasse

In August of 2017 my family and I said adieu to our heavenly domain by the sea. Here, beside the famous Bandol appellation, my husband, Jean-Marc, had planted his vineyard from scratch, and here is where I fell in love with a wild permaculture garden. In the midst of clearing, planting, and harvesting, we began to fix up the 19-century mas centered in the middle of it all. But this is not a book about renovating a French farmhouse or la vie en rose. And our story is nothing like the Hollywood hit: 'A Good Year.'

Indeed, it was one hell of a decade! Between hailstorms and compost heists and in the midst of my sobriety and my husband's mad pursuit of wine, we survived the first vineyard (2007-2012) only to have our spirits pelted and our dreams stolen at the second domain (2012-2017). For those ten years our lives were dictated by wine, the weather, and unbridled passion. Now, after a two-year break and a distancing from the subject, we are ready tell our story. Writing our autobiography together, chapter by chapter, we are, I hope, rekindling that passion... love misplaced, somewhere among the vines and the wine.

Excerpt from The Lost Gardens:

A creak at the door woke me from my trance. There was my husband of 22 years. The Frenchman who, letter by steamy love letter, wooed me back to his country. The father of my children. The man whose every inspiration I had followed, no matter where it led us. (Except for the time he wanted to move to Healdsburg, California, in search of American grapes. No! I put my foot down then. France was my home now, even if we were about to uproot once again.)

Watching Jean-Marc approach, I set aside the towel I had been folding: the cloth was stiff and bristly from drying on the clothesline (our dryer broke down at our previous vineyard--at which point it seemed like a good time to practice the French art of hanging the laundry: oh, the romantic illusions we create in order to withstand unconventional living.)

My husband studied me for a few moments, his hazel eyes soft and tender before he said those unforgettable words:

"I will understand if you want to leave me."


Kristin and Jean-Marc Espinasse by Cynthia Gillespie-Smith
photo by Cynthia Gyllespie-Smith

Please Note: this is a book-in-progress. Follow along as we write it.

=> The online edition is $29. Upon purchase, a pop-up window will open with the book site address, a login and a password to access the story. (Be sure to look for the pop-up window in your browser! Email if you cannot find it: kristin.espinasse@gmail.com)

=> It is now possible to pay by check, payable to Kristin Espinasse; address:

Le Vin Sobre
Att: Kristin Espinasse
45 Voie Ariane
13600 La Ciotat

=> Your purchase of our book-in-progress, The Lost Gardens, is non-refundable, and does not include any future editions (paperback, hardbound, ebook...) in the purchase price.

=> As a partly interactive book, your comments, suggestions, emails on the topic are part of this book, could be used in future versions (or simply in marketing), and are hereafter copyright of the book's authors, Jean-Marc and Kristi Espinasse.

=> In a nutshell, you are purchasing/reading/participating in this book at your own risk and promise not to sue the authors. 🙂

Thank you for your understanding. Now, let's get on with this story! Chapter one is ready--click the buy now button below to begin.

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Ongoing support from readers like you helps me to continue doing what I love most: sharing vocabulary and cultural insights via these personal stories from France. Your contribution makes a difference. A donation by check or via PayPal is vivement appréciéeMerci infiniment! Kristi

"Bonjour, Kristin, I have enjoyed your blog now for a great number of years, watching your children grow up, your moves from house to house, enjoying your stories and photos and your development as a writer. It's way past time for me to say MERCI with a donation to your blog...which I've done today. Bien amicalement!"--Gabrielle