The author of the Love in Provence series returns to the South of France with a poignant portrait of a woman who must learn how to create a new life for herself…
Sixty-two-year-old Arianna arrives in the South of France for a two-week artists’ workshop full of anticipation but burdened by guilt. Back home in Toronto, she has been living with the devastating diagnosis of her husband’s dementia and the heartbreak of watching the man she has loved for decades slip away before her eyes. What does her future hold without Ben? Before her is a blank canvas.
Encouraged by her family to take some time for herself, she has traveled to Arles to set up her easel in the same fields of poppies and sunflowers that inspired Van Gogh. Gradually, she rediscovers the inner artist she abandoned long ago. Drawing strength from the warm companionship and gentle wisdom of her fellow artists at the retreat—as well as the vitality of guest lecturer Jacques de Villeneuve, an artist and a cowboy—Arianna searches her heart for permission to embrace the life in front of her and, like the sunflowers, once again face the light.
5* Patricia Sands’ DRAWING LESSONS has everything I love in a novel – strong, memorable characters, gorgeous settings and a story line that is both heartfelt and inspiring. After a harrowing time dealing with her husband’s dementia, Arianna takes some time to for herself at an artist’s retreat in Arles, France. Eventually gaining support and encouragement from the eclectic cast of characters at the retreat, characters who become dear friends, Arianna rediscovers her love of art and learns to live again. The gorgeous descriptions of the south of France – its landscape, culture and food (!) – and, of course, Arianna’s story, make DRAWING LESSONS a terrific novel to escape into – especially in January!Jane Healey
5* Honestly, there are not enough stars available to truly rate this book. Patricia Sands tells a story like no other author I have read.Jamie Gillespie
We learn at the beginning of the book that the charmed life that Arianna and Ben have lived has come to a screeching halt after Ben is diagnosed with dementia at an early age. Arianna has taken care of his every need since then, almost to the point that her children and other family fear they may lose her from the sheer exhaustion (mentally and physically) of caring for Ben. Her children decide to convince her to go to France, where she spent some time during college and fell in love with the region. She gets to the 2 week artists workshop and meets many wonderful people, mostly artists, and that inspires her to start painting again. During this time of enjoying France and painting, she gets pangs of guilt because of Ben, but this time alone and away from home gives her the time and the setting to actually think about the future and what type of life is ahead of her. Patricia Sands describes the region of France with so much richness that you will feel like you have visited there yourself. The characters are so engaging and of course, the setting is brilliant with all the descriptive details that are given. This book will take you on a journey of sadness, delight, wonder, and hope as Arianna contemplates her life while painting in the spot that Van Gogh once painted.
5* Patricia Sands’ uniquely engaging account of visiting and painting in the Provence region of France is a feast for the senses. Her time spent in the region coupled with her comprehensive research into the life of Vincent van Gogh and the history of the region near Arles, France should make readers rethink their next vacation destination. She likewise welcomes the reader into an artists’ retreat, where we follow the impact the region has on the emotional journeys of a diverse group of artists.Pamela Allegretto