If you've ever fallen in love with a place while on vacation and wondered what it would be like to live there for more than a usual vacation's worth of time, you're my reader. Step right into a vicarious travel experience as Larry Lawyer and I try to make ourselves at home in Provence. Stay with us -- we've got a virtual guest room -- as we spend a month in each of four consecutive years in the pretty, medieval town of L'Isle sur la Sorgue - pronounced 'Leel sur la Sorg' - in the heart of Provence." Don't worry if you can't speak or understand French. Hang out with us for a while and you'll speak it as badly as we do.

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Playing House in Provence

Playing House in Provence

I don’t know about you, but no matter where we’re traveling, especially if we’re having a wonderful time, we invariably stop at the local realtor’s office to peer at the listings and indulge in a one month rental fantasy. We choose the house we like best, convert the price from euros to dollars, and then fly home and forget entirely about our dream until our next one week vacation.

My husband, Larry, and I don’t want to tour a foreign country, we want to become part of it. We want to pierce the tourist veil, get as close to the essence of the culture as we can. No more observing from the outside, our noses pressed to the glass. We yearn for someone to open the door and invite us to step right in and make ourselves at home. To accomplish this would take time, more than the week we usually allot for a vacation.

It took decades before we put our fantasy to the test of reality. By then both of us were in our low 60’s, right on the cusp of being late middle-aged and young-old. But since 60 had just become the new 50, perhaps we were merely late middle-aged. We had raised our children. We had solidified our careers. We had saved enough money so that we could travel. We were still in pretty good shape, probably because we enjoy physical activity. We swim. We ride bikes. We hike. We have arthritis. We pump up the volume on the TV. We are beginning to hear from our rotator cuffs. Couldn’t we have at least one last great adventure before all we can do is try to balance on our walkers on the decks of cruise ships?

Praise for Playing House in Provence:

Funnier, smarter, and more wickedly honest than any memoir about Provence.

~ Sybil Steinberg Contributing Editor, Publishers Weekly

Other books by Mary-Lou:

Al Jaffee’s Mad Life

Al Jaffee’s Mad Life Now available in paperback! Al Jaffee’s Mad Life (HarperCollins) is a biography of Al Jaffee, whose mad life began long before he became a celebrated writer/artist for MAD Magazine. Although Jaffee has become a cultural icon, the most compelling part of his life story has yet to be told. read more

Traveling While Married

Traveling While Married Traveling While Married (Algonquin Books of Chapel Hill) is a gender-driven, book of humorous essays covering a lifetime of travel a deux, from honeymoon to Elderhostel. read more

My Middle Aged Baby Book

My Middle Aged Baby Book My Middle-Aged Baby Book, (Workman Publishing) is a best-selling parody of a baby book and a satire of middle age. Like the baby book in which your mother recorded your every physical and intellectual accomplishment, this book celebrates the memorable firsts of middle age. read more

Intensive Care

Intensive Care Intensive Care: A Family Love Story is a memoir about how my husband, Larry and I, along with our sons Adam and Peter, struggled to thrive as a couple and a family, even as Peter was dying of muscular dystrophy. read more