'I wake to the sun striking gold on a stone wall. If I lean out of the window I can see Mount Canigou newly iced with snow. It is wonderful to live in a building with windows all around, to see both sunrise and sunset, to be constantly aware of the passage of the sun and moon.'
In 1988, Rosemary Bailey and her husband were travelling in the French Pyrenees when they fell in love with, and subsequently bought, a ruined medieval monastery, surrounded by peach orchards and snow-capped peaks. Traces of the monks were everywhere, in the frescoed 13th century chapel, the buried crypt, the stone arches of the cloister.
For the next few years the couple visited Corbiac whenever they could, until in 1997, they took the plunge and moved from central London to rural France with their six-year-old son. Entirely reliant on their earnings as freelance writers, they put their Apple Macs in the room with the fewest leaks and sent Theo to the village school. With vision and determination they have restored the monastery to its former glory, testing their relationship and resolve to the limit, and finding unexpected inspiration in the place.
Life in a Postcard is not just Rosemary Bailey's enthralling account of the challenges of life in a small mountain community, but also a celebration of the rugged beauty of French Catalonia, the pleasures of Catalan cooking, and an exploration of an alternative, often magical world.
Rosemary Bailey has written two further books about the Pyrenees. The Man who Married a Mountain (Bantam Books 2005) followed the romantic 19th century mountaineer. Sir Henry Russell-Killough, in his quest for the sublime. Her most recent book, Love and War in the Pyrenees, (Weidenfeld & Nicolson 2008) is an investigation of the Second World War, combining her own travels with contemporary interviews, documents andletters, described by the Jewish Chronicle as, 'a quiet triumph of historical reconstruction'. She is a fellow of the Royal Literary Fund and teaches writing for the Arvon Writers' Foundation and runs her own writers' retreats in the Pyrenees. www.rosemarybailey.com