The quill flows across the parchment in delicate strokes resonating with the gruff accents of the lang d’oc, curlicues embued with the scents of Provence: gurgling spring streams running down Mont Ventoux to the Sorgue; purple lavender fields clicking with cicadas under a honeyed summer sky; sunflowers and vineyards bursting with fall’s ripeness; the haunting whine of the mistral during a winter snowstorm.
Mary Novik captures the Provencal spirit in Solange LeBlanc in her novel Muse. Solange overcomes the stigma of her birth and fights her way to become a sought-after scribe at the time of the Popes in Avignon. Her visions prove more of a curse than a blessing and ultimately put to the test her relationship with the poet Petrarch, intent at making a name for himself at court, even if it comes at Solange’s expense.
Serve up a rich bouillabaisse, fragrant with Herbs du Provence and Mediterranean white fish, and a bottle of spicy, fruit-forward Grenache from the Papal cellars of Chateauneuf-du-Pape.