Emma's review of Late Summer in the Vineyard by Jo Thomas will be on the blog later today but this morning it's my pleasure to host a guest post from Jo as part of her blog tour celebrations. see poster below for any of the other stops you may have missed.
Someone said to me the other day, after reading my new book Late Summer in the Vineyard, ‘Jo, when Emmy makes that cycle ride, I know exactly how she feels. I was with her all the way!’ I replied, ‘I know exactly how she feels too, because I did that bike ride, up a similar long and winding road!’
It was a typically hot summer in the South of France. I had just turned nineteen. After a number of dead-end jobs and rejections, I decided, with a friend, to take the last of my money and buy a one way coach ticket to the South of France. We were going to look for a summer job in the sun. We asked everyone we met and then we heard of a house in the hills that was looking for house maids and managed to arrange an interview for the following day. The only problem was we had no idea how to get there. We didn’t have a car and couldn’t afford a taxi. It was far too far to walk.
Then, in the supermarket, we fell on a brilliant idea. They had push bikes for sale. A great big pile of them. We grabbed a box each and dragged them back to our caravan where we then had to spend the evening assembling them, with French instructions. It was only then, we realised our mistake. The reason they were so cheap is because they were BMX type bikes for twelve year olds! But we had no other way of getting there. So the following morning, we set off, knees up round our chins along the main road, concentrating really hard on which side of the road to stay on. The roundabouts were minefield! By the time we started up the mountain road we were sweating in the south of France sizzling sun. It was relentless, burning on the back of my neck. I didn’t have a hat. My legs ached. The bike wobbled. And when a car came past at speed, I nearly came off. Just one more corner we kept telling ourselves and if we couldn’t find the house, we’d turn back. Half way up that mountain road, it finally beat us. We collapsed into the grassy verge, hot, out of breath, bruised and aching, neither of us forward thinking enough to have taken water or sun block. We were a mess. If we’d found the place, they’d never have given us the jobs. So we turned round and pushed the bikes back down the hill towards our caravan site, vowing never to get back on the bikes again. But as luck would have it, on the way back we discovered another campsite looking for waitressing staff. Just a bike ride away!
Emmy Bridges has always looked out for others. Now it's time to put down roots of her own.
Working for a wine-maker in France is the opportunity of a lifetime for Emmy. Even if she doesn't know a thing about wine - beyond what's on offer at the local supermarket.
There's plenty to get to grips with in the rustic town of Petit Frère. Emmy's new work friends need more than a little winning over. Then there's her infuriatingly brash tutor, Isaac, and the enigmatic Madame Beaumont, tucked away in her vineyard of secrets.
But Emmy will soon realise that in life - just as in wine-making - the best things happen when you let go and trust your instincts. Particularly when there's romance in the air...