Demain il fera jour: A reminder not to take work (life, everything) too seriously + Escapade to Porquerolles Island
What does “Féerique” mean in French? + compare translations of our bilingual book synopsis

Wish us luck (Souhaitez-nous bonne chance)! + Putting the cart before the horse (la charrue avant les boeufs)...


“Do not send a letter... we don’t live there any more.” This beautiful calligraphy by Joy Fairclough, captures the beauty and romance of what many imagine to be life on a French vineyard. Jean-Marc and I share the true blood, sweat, and tears reality in our memoir, The Lost Gardens which we have just finished writing. Fêtons çela!

Today's word: un ouvrage

    : book, work, publication

Click here to listen to Jean-Marc read the following in French and in English:

Nous sommes heureux de vous annoncer que, après deux ans de travail, nous avons terminé notre ouvrage, The Lost Gardens. We are happy to tell you that, after two years of work, we have finished our book, The Lost Gardens.

A DAY IN A FRENCH LIFE by Kristi Espinasse

On April 12, just before noon, after two full years of effort and dedication, my husband and I posted the very last chapter of our memoir, The Lost Gardens. And just like that, ça y est, we finished a book--un livre, a tome, a memoir, a work, un ouvrage--if not a magnum opus. (Just putting that last term in for the fun of it, reminding my serious self to do things for the fun of it--pour le plaisir de le faire. Not that writing this book was a pleasure...).

Ce n'est pas si simple que ça
Years ago at Karen Fawcett's (creator of "Bonjour Paris" one of the first websites on France) I remember sitting on the floor beside the prolific author Cara Black, who had, by that time, written a half-dozen books in her Aimée Leduc series, set in Paris. We were gathered around a coffee table, seated on couches, fauteuils, or assis par terre. I turned to Cara and said, regarding a new book she had begun: "It must be easy for you....I mean, you have written so many!"
I will never forget her response: "The next book is no easier to write than the first." 

What a lesson this was, and it has encouraged me many times since. Whether writing this blog post or a magazine column or a book, I still struggle, still sweat it out--partly because I am still putting the cart before the horse which seems to be the way I operate in life, writing being no exception. More than letters and words, I tend to invert entire passages so that after laboring for a while I realize I've gotten it all backward (les choses sont un peu à l'envers). I can't seem, from the get-go, to present an idea, an essay, a story, in its logical order. But that doesn't keep me from writing--it only keeps me from a smooth delivery.

When things get choppy, I take a break and pace around the house or the yard or the neighborhood or the town. "You are writing!" I remind myself. "You are still writing. If it were easy everyone would be doing it!" It helps so much to remember that the struggle is part of the process. And while it does not get easier to write, it is a skill that builds, a discipline that strengthens. Writing is an effort that feels good in the end. 

If writing this book was a struggle for me, for my husband it was a calculated risk. Jean-Marc admits in the last chapter that he feared writing this vineyard memoir would “stir the bad sediments in our common barrel”.... 

I had better leave you with that pour le moment. It is time now to contact a literary agent (ouf! And not a divorce lawyer!). Meantime, the next challenge is to compose a short review of our finished book and this step is most difficult. How to distill this dual-narrative--this story of our vineyard and the story of our marriage--into a few gripping time to wow a publisher?
Souhaitez-nous bonne chance. Wish us good luck!
*   *  *
 The online edition is available for purchase. Read it this weekend and enjoy dozens of meaningful photos!

un ouvrage = a work, a book
fêtons çela! = let's celebrate 
ça y est = there you have it
un livre = a book
pour le plaisir de le faire = for the fun of it
ce n’est pas si simple que ça = it’s not so easy as that
le fauteuil= chair
assis par terre = seated on the ground 
les choses sont un peu à l'envers = things are a little backwards 
ouf! = phew!

to put the cart before the horsemettre la charrue avant les bœufs
I leave you with an article published in our local La Ciotat magazine.  You will find today’s word “ouvrage” somewhere in the text... 


A Message from KristiOngoing support from readers like you keeps me writing and publishing this free language journal each week. If you find joy or value in these stories and would like to keep this site going, donating today will help so much. Thank you for being a part of this community and helping me to maintain this site and its newsletter.

Ways to contribute:
1.Zelle®, The best way to donate and there are no transaction fees. Zelle to [email protected]

2.Paypal or credit card
Or purchase my book for a friend and so help them discover this free weekly journal.
For more online reading: The Lost Gardens: A Story of Two Vineyards and a Sobriety


Feed You can follow this conversation by subscribing to the comment feed for this post.



Carolyn R Chase

Bonne Chance, for sure! I've been enjoying reading it, and its novel presentation (to use a pun) by two view points should be a selling point.

Leslie NYC

Fêtons-çela, bien-sur!
That is awesome. I look forward to the hard copy. Great news. I know it will be a fascinating read.

diane hart

just today I was telling a friend going to the 4 tennis grand slams is on my list. And being a major Nadal fan Roland Garros/Paris would be my 1st choice.

Teresa Meek

Felicitations, Kristi!

As a professional writer, I, too, often tend to put the cart before the horse. It probably happens to everyone. The problem is, the point you're making or the scene you're setting is so clear in your own mind that you don't always stop to consider the audience's point of view. They may not see it so clearly, and you may need to remind them of past or even recent-past events leading up to your subject that are crystal clear in the memory of the person who lived them, but not so for the people who have read about them, but not experienced them.

The best solution I've found is to complete all or most of your writing the day before it's due. I let stories "cure" overnight, and no matter how many times I revised as I wrote the day before, I invariably find ways to state things more clearly or revise passages that sound a bit awkward in retrospect.

Bonne chance!


Gail Schilling

Can’t wait to read this!


You will have done a great job! Remember, it also became a part of your survival techniques for the several “confinements” en France even if not planned to be that. Congratulations! What a great way to have used / lived 2020/2021.


Our dear Kristi,
So pleased and proud of you both for this achievement!!
I have enjoyed each chapter of The Lost Gardens-- just as I enjoy each word of all your wonderful posts and books!!
Most of all, because you have taken God's gift and made the very most of all your talent!!
And all of your fortunate readers are so glad you did!!
Blessings always
Natalia. Xo

Sarah LaBelle

Des devantures de boutiques, storefronts.
Now I know that French phrase. The article in La Ciotat magazine is good, and solid praise for your writing and your photography. I find myself missing your photos, wishing to see more of the photos of places and details of the area around you. You have been busy writing a book, while keeping your marriage intact. Maybe soon there will be time for more photos.

Best of luck finding the publisher.

Thomas Carey

Great courage!

Joanne Fischer

Bonne chance! If anyone can do can!


Félicitations, Kristi! What an honor to be recognized for your work. Bien fait!!

Remy du Bois

Salut Kristin! I’m sure you know the wonderful books of MFK Fisher whose books romanticize France while in fact she was thrice married and had a rather painful peripatetic life. Yet she was enormously productive and like her, your writing is very engaging. It looks like you and Jean-Marc weathered your travails so much better - big congratulations! Will look forward to the book!



Robin K

WOW - Your labor of love is finished - or just beginning the next phase, c'est vrai? Funny about the memory being in Karen's living room and your moment of clarity with Cara. I believe I was there with you. It was way back when we had our place on rue St. Dominique in Paris and you were staying with me and you didn't want to go alone. I was rather uncomfortable coming along (didn't want to be the third wheel) but you convinced me to do so and it was all so wonderful that evening, such sweet memories to look back on. I remember it fondly if it is the same night I am thinking of. Bonne chance mon ami on this next step of getting it published (not that you need it). You TWO have this!

Judi Miller

I can only imagine how proud you and Jean-Marc must be -to have written an entire book, but to also have been so honest in weathering any storms that arose-as they do in long, loving relationships! You are both to be congratulated! Bon chance with the book promoters. I’m sure it will be snapped right up and do very well!! Very happy for you both! Judi

Leslie molnar-grabowski

Félicitations, Kristi! Je vous souhaite beaucoup de succès !!!

Suzanne Patry

Felicitations et bonne chance!! I enjoyed reading the chapters one by one. Looking forward to seeing the finished product!

Diane Heinecke

Congratulations, Kristin and Jean Marc. You did it! Celebrate this labor of love. I will be praying that just the right publisher appreciates your work of blood, sweat & tears and offers you a magnificent deal.

Patricia Sands

Fêtons-cela ensemble! I think your story would make a fine Netflix series! Pourquoi pas? Congratulations to you both, once again. Would you like some blurbs or reviews from those who have already enjoyed the story to the last page? Just say the word and I'm sure you will have an enthusiastic response. I'm ready!


Congratulations Kristi and JeanMarc. I loved reading each chapter and a half. Reading each of your viewpoints showed the love you have for each other and perseverance and truthfulness which you each captured.
Xoxo, Kathleen

RL Jackson

Congratulations. So very proud of you both. What an accomplishment.

Cynthia Lewis

Bonne chance, Kristi and Jean-Marc!! I thank you for sharing your lives in such a remarkable way. It is my feeling that this endeavor has strengthened your love for one another. What could be better? My best wishes.

Jean Briggs

Congratulations! I look forward to reading your “œuvre.”
Petite correction: (In the vocabulary section)
Ce n’est pas si simple que ça.
It’s not as easy as that.

Kristin Espinasse

Thank you, Jean. Off to fix that now. 


Huge congratulations to you both. I’m wondering if I should purchase the online copy or a paper copy 🤔 hmm?
What impresses me the most (about your story) is the willingness to share a dream that almost broke you. And one that you have survived and moved forward from.
That takes character, strength and intelligence.

Karen Cafarella

Congratulations. Can't wait to read it.


Congratulations to you both - may your book be a huge success.

I remember the old Bonjour Paris with great affection - it was such fun to directly connect with other lovers of France, a novel experience at the time. You’re correct about the craft of writing; the more one writes the better the writing. A prime example is your friend Cara Black. The reader can see her progress with each book; after book 4 she began hitting her stride and just keeps getting better and better.

Thanks for sharing your life with us.

Chris Allin

What a great suggestion,Patricia! And after watching so many Netflix shows during confinement, I can just see Kristen Bell (US) and Martin Henderson (NewZealand) playing Kristi and Jean-Marc. The likenesses are uncanny...

Kristin Espinasse

Thank you very much, Patricia! A blurb from you would be very helpful. Much appreciated!

Kristin Espinasse

Wow, Chris! You have got me dreaming!


Congratulations! A wonderful accomplishment ... can't wait to read the finished product.


Looking forward to reading it when it comes out in book form!


I just finished reading a book by Deirdre Bair called "Parisian Lives". I'm wondering if you have read it and if not, you might like it. It's a memoir of her work and writing process and interviewing techniques when she was just starting her career as a biographer of Samuel Beckett, and later Simone de Beauvoir. I loved it--for its insight into those two people, as well as reading about her time spent in France, and areas of Montparnasse that I used to love hanging around during that same era. She talks about her struggles with the writing, about self doubt, about structure, etc., as well as the difficulties she faced as a woman writer in the early 70's.

Kristin Espinasse

Thank you, Lynne, for this recommendation. It looks like a good one! 


I've just found your site, and enthusiastically subscribed. Alas, I cannot login. I'm sorry to use this forum as the way to contact you, but it was the only contact method I could find. I've tried several times to login, and keep being told that I cannot login. I've tried changing my password, but that process on FeedBlitz is not at all clear. I just received a message saying that my login is now blocked. Help! I'd love to read what you have to say!
Merci beaucoup.
By the way, I live in Occitanie.

Kristin Espinasse

Bonjour, Lynne. Very happy to have you with us! There is no need to login to this email newsletter. You are subscribed now and will receive the next post in about one week. 

Jan G.

Félicitations et bon courage!!

I like reading from the back to the front!

Je t'embrasse tres fort!


Suzanne Codi

Hi Kristi and Jean-Marc, we are so impressed that you were able to finish your book in a relatively short time, given all the daily obstacles of life that must have impeded your productivity! Being visual artists, we understand how hard it is to stay on track, have a normal life, and given the pandemic, (totally ABnormal!!) even harder to get anything done, so, heartfelt FELICITATIONS and look forward to reading all about your adventures!! Bises

Valerie Meluskey

What they all said! You did it! Your beautiful lives are now shared even more fully. Thank you!!



Diane Covington-Carter

I so understand about writing. I once heard a writer say, "I like having written." I too circle around when I write and sometimes wonder where it is all going, but somehow, it turns out in the end.
Bravo for finishing the book and Bonne Chance finding a publisher.

Verify your Comment

Previewing your Comment

This is only a preview. Your comment has not yet been posted.

Your comment could not be posted. Error type:
Your comment has been posted. Post another comment

The letters and numbers you entered did not match the image. Please try again.

As a final step before posting your comment, enter the letters and numbers you see in the image below. This prevents automated programs from posting comments.

Having trouble reading this image? View an alternate.


Post a comment

Your Information

(Name is required. Email address will not be displayed with the comment.)