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A Farm in Normandy and the Return to the Farm
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A FARM IN NORMANDY AND THE RETURN TO THE FARM by MRS ROBERT HENREY. A Farm in Normandy and The Return to the Farm are here published in one volume. The first was written after my flight from France in 1940 the second in the full joy of my reunion with my mother and the Norman soil at the end of the war. Originally pro duced under the pseudonym Robert Henrey they now appear in feminine form to take their rightful pkce amongst my other works. MADELEINE HENREY. LONDON. A FARM IN NORMANDY. The characters in this autobiography are real people, each bearing bis or her own name. I HAD often wished to buy a house in France It nearly happened at Christmas during a weeks holiday at Monte Carlo. One morning we had climbed up to La Turbie perched high above the principality and followed the road that is built in the flank of the mountain and leads to Mentone. Suddenly we came upon a house with a red roof and blue shutters clinging like a toy to the rock. But it was not the house that I noticed first. Tangerine-trees dipped their golden fruit over the side of the low white wall. I wanted that place the moment I saw it. I wanted it for the birds-eye view over Monte Carlo and away over the deep blue Mediterranean that I would have had at breakfast while drinking my coffee on the terrace under the multi-coloured sunshade. We were greeted by the barking of a dog and the smile of a woman in the early fifties, whose lips were scarlet and whose hair was dyed the colour of golden com. She must have been pretty in her youth, and from her conversation, studded with quotations from Racine, we guessed that she was an actress. She explained Im obliged to sell this house, as well as my flat in Paris family troubles, dont you knowl We visited the rooms and inspected the garden, built in twenty or more tiers against the flank of the mountain, each bordered with olive-and eucalyptus-trees and trellised vines, aad at the end of each tier was a tap with a hose in order to water morning and night. I then owned, and I was ready to spend all this money, the total savings of a young married woman, on this Paradise, if the price was within my means. How much I asked breathlessly. Didnt the estate agent tell you she queried. Fm asking 100,000 francs I made a rapid calculation, and it seemed to me that at the rate of exchange I would even have a trifle to spare. I was yet to learn that French law called for a state purchase tax of nearly thirty per cent. For the next three days I interviewed lawyers and bank managers in an attempt to deal, but in the end I discovered that I had not quite enough, and this flaxen-haired woman proved hard when it came to splitting francs. I went back to the house each day for the remainder of the week, and each time gazed across the bay towards Italy, dreaming that the place was mine We left Monte Carlo without buying the house, and for the first few weeks I often thought of the terraced garden and the exotic flowers that grew so easily in the torrid sunshine and, closing my eyes, I could see again the tangerines that were there for the picking, and the little white garage on the other side of the road, set like a jewel in a lemon grove. But as time went on I forgot the house, only to realize how unwise I would have been to sink all my savings in a place over twenty hours by train from London. The winter passed and spring came, and at Whitsun my mind had unconsciously worked out another plan. It was not only distance that had blunted my regret for the house at Roquebtune. I dreamed of being a young woman with a faarn of her own. I needed an orchard, a kitchen garden, cows, and chickens...
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