Carol Drinkwater is one of the world’s best-loved authors and film-makers as well as winning awards for her portrayal of Helen Herriot in the television adaptation of the James Herriot books All Creatures Great and Small.
The 69-year-old Anglo-Irish star, who is based in the South of France and lives where her famous Olive Farm series of books is set, has a new novel out called The Lost Girl which is already topping the best-seller lists after it went on sale at the end of June.
We were lucky enough to get some time to chat with Carol Drinkwater (pictured below) and asked her about her new novel, which has been getting rave reviews. And of course we wondered what’s on her own reading list at the moment.
Tell us about your new book, The Lost Girl…
Carol says: “The Lost Girl is the story of two women who meet by chance on a winter’s evening in a café in Paris. November 2015; the night of six terrorist attacks on the eastern quarter of the city.
“Kurtiz, an Englishwoman in her 40s, is searching for her daughter, Lizzie, who went missing four years earlier. There has been a possible sighting of Lizzie in Paris and Kurtiz is praying that this will be the night of their reunion. Her husband has gone to the Bataclan, to the Eagles of Death Metal concert where he believes their daughter will be found. Kurtiz is waiting.
“Into the café comes Marguerite, a glamorous retired actress in her 80s. As the evening unfolds the two women begin to share their stories. The tragic incidents throw them together. Marguerite offers her support while revealing her love story set in Provence after the Second World War.”
It must have been so upsetting for you researching it and watching footage of those horrific and terrible Paris terrorist attacks. Writing seems to be a profession where you are never really switched off as a lot of the work must take place when you’re walking down the street, or just sitting somewhere quietly, how do you switch off and truly relax?
“I watched the incidents on television as they unfolded,” Carol explains. “I was in the company of my mother. We were both weeping as we learned that 1,500 concert-goers had been taken hostage at the Bataclan and the terrorists were shooting them in cold blood. It was horrific. Suddenly my mother said, ‘Everyone of those poor people has a mother wondering if their child will be safe, will be spared.’
“Her remark sowed a seed within me and from there the book was born.
“I spent a month at the Bibliotheque Nationale in Paris, in their mediatheque division, watching footage from everywhere, over and over until I had built the structure of the night, the weekend. I was so touched by the generosity of the citizens of Paris who refused to be cowed by the atrocities, who gave everything they could.
“In the past, during my travels for The Olive Route books and films, I witnessed man’s generosity to man; it outweighs ugliness and cruelty.
“The kindness of the human spirit, love and optimism are at the heart of The Lost Girl. They are the source of the twist that turns the tale around, bringing hope and happiness.”
What are your top five reads that you would recommend to others this year and why?
“I will be on the move a great deal this year so I have downloaded a number of books to my Kindle, some of them old favourites. I look forward to relaxing with them,” Carol says.
A Daphne du Maurier Omnibus
The Trouble With Goats and Sheep – Joanna Cannon
The Power – Naomi Alderman
I have just finished Men Without Women: Stories – Haruki Murakami. The first book of his I have read and I loved it.
And a beach read: Our Summer Together – Fanny Blake”
And lastly, would you ever really leave the Olive Farm? We have heard you have looked at some other properties that need a lot of love, care and attention, but surely the Olive Farm is an extension of you and embedded in your readers’ psyché now?
“Where have you heard that we were looking at properties?!” Carol laughs.
“Yes, we have looked, but we have decided that we are not going to move. My last novel The Forgotten Summer was set on a vineyard in the south of France and I think it set all my juices salivating. I wanted to live where the story took place!
“Our Olive Farm is so much more than a home. It has become a link between me and my readers all over the world. Some come to stay in our holiday cottage so it also brings the world to us. It is indeed a magical place and I can’t turn my back on that.”
If you would like to find out more about Carol Drinkwater she has a regularly updated website here where you can find details of her book tours and other news, and if you would like to curl up or lie on the beach with a copy of The Lost Girl this summer Bookdepository.com ship worldwide free. Here is their link for The Lost Girl, and if you can follow Carol on Twitter and on Facebook here.
Did you enjoy this interview with Carol Drinkwater? Perhaps you’d be interested in Olympian Rebeccca Adlington’s take on body image and health and fitness after having a baby. Or maybe you’d like to read about Clare Groves, an illustrator who wrote and then published her own series of children’s books. Plus, here’s how one woman drew her way out of depression, creating a self-help book which went on to become a global hit.