Water Paper Stone: Letters from a Mill in France is Released
San Francisco, CA
Seduced by the romantic notion of living a carefree life abroad, many people dream of moving to the South of France to eat, drink, and explore the countryside. Most people don't then decide to move to France, revitalize a forgotten water mill, host an artist-in-residence program, and start a new career. But that is exactly what Judy O'Shea, a San Francisco installation artist, did with her husband, Mike. Now, O'Shea has collected her vivid journal entries and letters to her beloved sister, Linda, into Water Paper Stone, a memoir that immerses the reader in life in the heartland of France. Water Paper Stone: Letters from a Mill in France is now available for purchase on Amazon.com in softcover for $17.95 and as an e-book with more than 100 photos for $9.99. The book can also be ordered through local bookstores.
"A lot of people ask themselves what it would be like to buy a ruin overseas, restore it, and actually live there. I had wondered and dreamed about it, too," says O'Shea. "It wasn't until my sister, Linda, was handicapped by a stroke when she was only 46 that I found the courage to act on my dream. This book revisits my journey in France through letters to Linda, telling her about the crazy joy of it all, along with journal entries that capture the reality, frustration, and sometimes heartache of that time."
Judy and Mike begin their adventure with the purchase and restoration of a water mill-La Pilande Basse-on the outskirts of Plaisance, a village of fewer than 100 people in the steep hills of the Aveyron department of France, Roquefort cheese country. During the restoration of the mill, Judy evolves from a corporate businesswoman to an installation artist, having decided to start a new career in art after 25 years in biotechnology start-ups. Inspired to share with and learn from other artists, the O'Sheas create an artist-in-residence program and host more than 30 artists from France and the United States during their 17-year stay in Plaisance.
Knowing no French, the O'Sheas work side-by-side with local artisans to restore the mill, learn the language, the culture, the regional cuisine, and the secrets of a French garden. They become fixtures in the town of Plaisance as they contribute to the social fabric of the community, its people, and ultimately its legacy.