Cloudy days can come as a surprise in
. Cerulean blue is the usual outlook, despite the knowledge that winters can be harsh. But when the vineyard down the hill takes on these soft grey tones, it means a perfect afternoon for reading. Provence
There’s nothing I like more than a book trail, where one leads on to another, linked in some way. Recently I’ve read three books about the Cévennes, that isolated and mountainous region on the other side of the stately Rhone to the north-west of
. Travels with a Donkey in the Cévennes (1879) is Robert Louis Stevenson’s classic account of a 120-mile walking trip he made alone with the obdurate donkey Modestine. It’s one of his earliest works, and its enduring popularity is surely to do with his wonderful descriptions of the landscape: Avignon
It was already warm. I tied my jacket on the pack, and walked in my knitted waistcoat. Modestine herself was in high spirits, and broke of her own accord, for the first time in my experience, into a jolting trot that set the oats swashing in the pocket of my coat. The view, back upon the northern Gévaudan, extended with every step; scarce a tree, scarce a house, appeared upon the fields of wild hill that ran north, east, and west, all blue and gold in the haze and sunlight of the morning. A multitude of little birds kept sweeping and twittering about my path (…), translucent flickering wings between the sun and me.
The other two books are much more recent. Both are novels in which descriptive writing about the countryside is equally lyrical and accomplished.