Cherries from Chauvet's Orchard,
A Memoir of Provence
by Ruth Phillips
When an English painter moves to Provence in search of the muse, he is looking not only for artistic fulfillment but also for love, family and community. This funny and touching memoir chronicles his unconventional route towards almost everything he desires, whilst painting a vivid picture of how hard it can be for one man to face a blank canvas - even in paradise.
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"Cherries from Chauvet's Orchard' is full of the author's passion for things Provencal, and will be read by lovers of Provence (and Provencal food) with the greatest pleasure, but it is also an extremely honest account of what it takes for an artist to find his or her way in the world. There is a gritty kitchen sink element to Cherries which is absent in the work of, say, Peter Mayle, and which lifts this book above the usual croissants-and-cafe crème panegyric. This is a book about real people struggling to turn a ruin into a home and a relationship into a marriage. The ruin just happens to be set in some of the most beautiful countryside in the south of France.
Joseph Geary author of Spiral and Mirror
"In Cherries from Chauvet's Orchard, cellist Ruth Phillips makes music with words, capturing on the page what her painter husband, Julian Merrow-Smith, does on canvas--a way of life that is achingly romantic yet not romanticized, that is earthbound yet exquisite, and one where sweat is rewarded with transcendence. As the couple struggles to build their home out of a farm ruin beneath the shadow of Mt. Ventoux and to make a living and life together, Julian must harness his muse. In a modern-day twist in this ancient place of luscious colors and cuisine, it is the worldwide web that changes their life. This is a true story of talent, ingenuity, and success against the odds, of pathos, passion, and humor. You won't put it down."
Dean King, author of Skeletons on the Zahara and Unbound
"Cherries from Chauvet's Orchard is a memoir by Ruth Phillips. Ruth is a professional 'cellist, and the wife of the painter Julian Merrow-Smith and she can write. I mean, she can really write; there's a quality about her words you can recognize instantly. It may be the combination of her musicality and visual sense further developed by living with a painter and acting as his de facto studio assistant, that has distilled this lovely prose. Either way, the effect is quite magical, and I will return to it with a full review at a later date.'
Deborah Lawrenson, author of The Lantern, Songs of Blue and Gold and The Art of Falling
Ruth Phillips, Julian Merrow-Smith
Hameau des Couguieux