Central Coast News
Central Coast Author Book Release
The life and secrets of this ancient flower
As a small girl, growing up in the countryside on the outskirts of Sydney’s urban sprawl, Marian French was obsessed with all forms of plant life and the critters that lived amongst the foliage, large and small. The care and nurturing of gardens have been her passion, becoming a beekeeper later in life is no surprise, and in addition to this, a reptile handler for Wires Central Coast.
Her involvement in Environmental and Heritage issues in the community has been in the forefront through her life. During the trials of renovating her Australian home and building her love of gardens, Marian wrote and created A Lavender Affair.
A delightfully illustrated book on the cultivation of the genus Lavendula; its varied uses both medicinally and in the perfume and beauty trade.
Created by Marian as not just a reference book for gardeners but also for those looking to understand and evoke a complete way of natural living, free of chemicals, and being able to use lavender as it is shown in the recipes within.
‘A gardening book, yes,’ Marian explains. ‘but with interspersed stories and trials that were encountered as we restored a derelict farmhouse and establish a flower farm. Along the way, we met with tentative locals, dealt with perverse builders and ventured into beekeeping!’
A Lavender Affair is part journal, part gardening book that unpacks the authors experience of moving from the city to the countryside to develop a lavender farm and specialist nursery.
As lived through the late 1970’s, Marian weaves a narrative amongst valuable tips on how to grow, care and use lavender in your garden.
Written in a warm conversational style of great Australian memoirs and found to be quite handy for all herb and plant enthusiasts who would love to have this wonderful book in their collection.
A Conversation with Marian
What is your inspiration?
I wrote the original book in 1989, purely as a garden book, a textbook on Lavender’s cultivation. Through a set of unfortunate circumstances, it was never released.
In conversation recently, my friend Angela bravely bought up the subject of ‘the lavender book’, a taboo subject in the French household. My protestations of “other books on the subject have been written now, what’s the point?” fell on deaf ears.
“No, she insisted, why don’t you tell the whole story.” adding “how you and Frank left the city behind to begin a new life in the country.” “Instead of a dull gardening book, intersperse it with your exploits into country living, restoring a heritage property, starting a Lavender Farm, make it personal, readers enjoy that.” The spark kindled; I was on my way with a new idea. I couldn’t wait.
What was your biggest challenge with A Lavender Affair?
Biggest challenge was to introduce a personal storyline into what was once written as a Gardening book. A complete structural change was essential to keep the text interesting, flowing and readable.
What do you think makes a good story?
Whether the main characters in your story are people, animals or plants, your readers must relate to them on some level. If we are not interested in the characters, what’s to keep us reading on to find out what happens to them.
What is your favourite part of A Lavender Affair?
The watercolour artwork Robin has so brilliantly created for my book.
I guess I enjoyed writing and reliving the vibrant, emotional enthusiasm we needed in bucketfuls to achieve what we created at Beach Farm. We settled into a life where each day was a new experience, nothing planned, nothing expected; more importantly, we grew to know who we were in that idyllic time.
What does your family think of your writing? Who has been your biggest supporter?
From the day I unwrapped a new portable Olivetti Typewriter, a birthday gift from my generous husband and two gorgeous daughters. In a goodnatured, “let’s keep mum happy” way, they have encouraged and supported me from the beginning. Many years later, the first words Zarli said to me as she adjusted my laptop onto the desktop at my new abode by the Bay was, “now Mum; you will have all the time you need to finish the lavender story.” And I thought to myself as we stood gazing at the view through the window, yes, I could very well do that. Where all the time in the world was coming from was another matter.
What are your plans for your future book/s? Can we get any spoilers?
My father was the son of the lighthouse keeper at Queenscliff Victoria. A novel set in the 1930s in the seaside village, with Martin (my dad) the protagonist in the story, The Lighthouse Keeper’s Daughter.
A Lavender Affair is available everywhere great books are sold from 15th May.
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