Book Excerpt

The sun was bright but there was a chilled nip to the air that surprised Maxine, even though the calendar was about to turn over to December. She somehow always pictured the south of France to be a place that was perpetually glowing and warm, inhabited by partying royals, carousing celebrities, and half-naked sunbathers. She could see why Susie and Julia had decided to open their retreat center here. On the half-hour drive over from the train station she stared out the car window and watched as the country terrain began to roll gently under a lovely postcard blue sky, the fields and meadows changing color like the patterns on a quilt, moving from pale greens to muted golds to faded browns, dotted here and there with grazing creamy white sheep and striped with sleeping grape vines strung out like martyrs between five foot posts.