Spring Break and Other Distractions

Author climbing stone steps in Paris. (Author’s Collection)

It snowed last night. In Victoria, we usually get one dump every February—some bigger than others. After that, we know we’re in the clear and the daffodils will open soon. Luckily, this time we received only a skiff. Bring on the blooms. [Author’s note: it’s now March 8, and the daffodils are indeed ready to burst!]

I’m writing this March newsletter at the end of February because I’m looking at my calendar for next month, and it’s, um, pretty booked up. I’ve referred to these scheduled items as distractions in the title above. The term isn’t fair, though. It’s a catch-all for everything from dentist appointments and meetings (yuck) to my book launch and even a tropical getaway (yay!). Bring on Spring Break.

You would think there wouldn’t be much to say this close to the last post, but you’d be wrong. I was certainly surprised once I started jotting down what’s come up in the past couple of weeks, (and I don’t just mean flowers.)

🚨 Giveaway! 🚨

Enter to win one of two advance, signed copies of Provenance Unknown on Goodreads! Contest open to residents of Canada and the United States—enter by March 10. Please share far and wide.

(And if you’re not lucky enough to win but you do purchase your own copy, a friendly reminder that posting a review is hugely helpful to authors. nudge, nudge)

Bonus: My publisher, Sands Press, put together a nice little video promo. Provenance Unknown is still on pre-order until the March 28 release date.

Screenshot from video promo showing book spine.

When it does come out, a little birdie told me it’ll be also be available as an audio book! Recording is already underway.


Reviews are starting to come in for Provenance Unknown. In a world of algorithms and online presence, they make a big impact for authors. It’s the easiest way to show your support. 🙏

… The author has written a love story wrapped in a love story—that of Michele and Sébastien, as well as her grandparents. Each chapter begins with an excerpt from the diary, telling about her grandparents’ romance. It is an interesting juxtaposition of the present and the World War II era. Some readers may find it difficult to sympathize with Michele early on. She makes decisions like an impulsive teenager. As the story unfolds, however, the author deftly portrays a young woman struggling to get her life on track who undergoes a transformation through learning about those who came before her. She emerges with a more mature outlook. This romance novel should appeal to fans of the genre, as well as anyone who has experienced and understands the excitement of researching their family history.

From review by Glenda Vosburgh
5 stars. Delightful story about a young single mom finding her way in the world and discoverying her roots. It shows how coincidences can change the course of your life.
This book has inspired me to research my own genealogy and has opened my eyes to the job of an archivist. If you have interest in your discovering your own family background, this book is a must read.
Goodreads review

And this one’s not a review, but made my day nonetheless.

Just wanted to say I found your post because Facebook suggested it. But I read the blurb on Google books about Provenance Unknown, and I'm already hooked. Archivist? Yes. Family stuff and mystery? Double yes. My fav North American city (and the most haunted!) As well as my fav European city? I'm beyond sold. Very grateful for Facebook, for once :)
Comment on Facebook post, 7 March 2023.

Les Bouquinistes

Here are my Paris picks for this month. Get your French fix through these books, websites, and podcasts. If you have any to add, please use the Contact form to send them my way.

In Montmartre: Picasso, Matisse and the Birth of Modernist Art by Sue Roe

Cover for In Montmartre.

Not a new book, but new to me when I read it in 2022. A must-read for anyone interested in the creative scene in Paris at the start of the twentieth century.

A lively and deeply researched group biography of the vibrant figures who invented modernist art in bohemian Paris at the dawn of the twentieth century

When the young Pablo Picasso first arrived in Paris in 1900, the most progressive young artists all lived and worked in the seedy hillside quarter of Montmartre, in the shade of the old windmills. Over the next decade, among the studios, salons, cafés, dance halls, and galleries of Montmartre, the young Spaniard joined the likes of Henri Matisse, André Derain, Maurice de Vlaminck, Georges Braque, Amedeo Modigliani, Constantin Brancusi, Gertrude Stein, and many more in revolutionizing artistic expression.

Blending exceptional scholarship with graceful prose, Sue Roe paints a remarkable group portrait of the men and women who profoundly changed the arts of painting, sculpture, dance, music, literature, and fashion. She describes the origins of such movements as Fauvism, Cubism, and Futurism, and reconstructs the stories behind immortal paintings by Picasso and Matisse. She shows how daily life in Montmartre—which brought artists together with acrobats and dancers, prostitutes and clowns—provided an essential cauldron for artistic experimentation and for the colorful relationships, friendships, loyalties, and feuds that gave rise to some of the most pathbreaking and lasting works of the twentieth century.

In Montmartre is a thrilling account of an extraordinary group of artists on the cusp of fame and immortality that brings vividly to life one of the key moments in the history of modern art.

This French Life (https://thisfrench.life)

Illustration of a woman wearing red scarf and shoes, striped shirt, and navy pants, carrying a bag with wine, flowers, and baguettes. The words “This French Life” appear in script across her.
Logo for This French Life.

I stumbled on the Instagram account for This French Life first and then went down a (pleasant) rabbit hole.

This website and blog provide tips and tricks for everyday expat life in France—along with stunning visuals. There are so many resources available that’s it’s hard to summarize them. But core topics covered include French food, travel, style, garden and home, culture, and moving to France. Whether you’re looking to dip a toe or dive right in, This French Life is a great place to start.

I believe that France is the most incredible country in the world! I am absolutely in love with this dream I’m living every day.
My goal is to be a resource to all of you who want to live your French life.

Shannon Pratuch, This French Life.

Don’t Mind If We Do (Podcast)

Logo for Don’t Mind If We Do, a podcast for women.

Season 2, Episode 3 of this podcast from Victoria-based photography studio Vintage Chic recaps their recent trip to Paris, where they took a group of women for luxury experiences, photo shoots, wine, and more. 🥰 (And they’re going to do it again in Italy in 2023.)

Listen to co-hosts Chelsea and Michelle make each other laugh—and cry—as they recall the Eiffel Tower, champagne, Versailles, broken down boats, food tours, perfume … and photo shoots, of course! Find out what a Vintage Chic dream trip looks like, and learn about the upcoming trip in October 2023 to Montelparo, Italy!

Listen below:

Vintage Chic photoshoot on the Trocadéro, Paris.
(Image from the Don’t Mind If We Do Facebook page.)

See you in April. As always, thanks for reading. Merci!


Published by Sonia Nicholson

Sonia Nicholson is an archivist, executive assistant, and writer. She was born and raised in Osoyoos, British Columbia, Canada and studied French and Spanish at the University of Victoria. She lives in Victoria, British Columbia with her husband, two children, and two rescue dogs. Follow her on Twitter @nicholsonsonia_

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