The girl, the dog and the writer in Provence by Katrina Nannestad
ABC Books, 2018. ISBN 9780733338182
(Ages: 9-12) Highly recommended. Themes: Family life. Criminal activity. Provence (France) - Social life and customs. The girl, the dog and the writer in Provence is a delightful continuation of young Freja Peachtree's story, moving to the picturesque Provencal village of Claviers with her guardian Tobias Appleby and their large boisterous Irish wolfhound Finnegan. Freja still misses her mother Clementine who remains in a Swiss clinic undergoing treatment; she sends her postcards describing her wonderful new home. There is a frisson of uncertainty about her relationship with crime writer Tobias, is he her father, her uncle or just a really close friend her mother trusts? Nannestad celebrates the joie de vivre of the small community, the olive groves, lavender fields and the hidden treasures in the market square.
Freja's friendship with their young precocious neighbour King Pippin who lives with his grandma is eye-opening. His freedom to explore, his knowledge of the quirky townsfolk and his unwavering care for Freja is heart-warming. While Tobias is caught up in his imaginative and creative world writing a murder mystery set in Provence, seeing villains at every turn and unusual murder methods, the children and ever-hungry Finnegan observe village life and become embroiled in solving a series of crimes.
Love continues to blossom between Tobias and Vivi who has moved from Rome to pursue her career in the world-famous Claviers patisserie run by Monsieur Diderot. There's a wonderful unique carousel that brings joy to the townsfolk, woodlands to explore and food to enjoy.
Katrina Nannestad's The girl, the dog and the writer in Provence is a wonderful and delightful story filled with both light and shade, love and uncertainty, food and festivities. Themes of friendship, family relationships, creativity and acceptance are beautifully interwoven. Tobias' parenting style and his willingness to let Freja learn without formal schooling is both interesting and concerning. Fans from across the world must wait for the next exciting destination, mystery and adventure to resolve Freja's family relationships.