My BFF Patricia Sands just published the re-release of her novel, The Bridge Club. The book is a celebration of friendship shared with eight women over a half-century… and counting.
The Bridge Club: A Celebration of Friendship
Patricia and I met in Uzès five years ago at the instigation of our mutual friend, Carolyne Kauser Abbott of Perfectly Provence. For our gettogether, I was expecting a snazzy, chart-busting book star in a fancy limousine. What showed up was petite Patricia piling off a crowded bus. We became BFFs instantly and our friendship has only deepened.
I’m sharing this story with you about Patricia’s novel, The Bridge Club, for several reasons. For one, Patricia is a dear friend who opened up for me the adventure of guiding tours soon after we met. Her best-selling “Love in Provence” novels provide the roadmap for our “Memories You Promised Yourself” tours of the south of France.
Second, I love stories about artists of all types and how they get their inspiration and start. In this post, Patricia shares her journey.
And last, I want to acknowledge the importance of friendship, especially when times are difficult, as now. I am so grateful for my friends from the past and the new ones.
So let’s get on with the interview
How did your career as a novelist begin? What was your inspiration?
Patricia: The Bridge Club was the beginning of a most unexpected career as an author. My inspiration was the friendship of my real-life bridge club and our stories that spanned through four decades at that time. There were actually ten of us in the group but it made more sense to have eight women in the fictionalized version of a bridge club.
I began writing the book just to share with our little group. As they and other friends read excerpts, I was encouraged to continue with the story.
During that time I was taking writing courses and attending writers’ workshops. Women commented that I was writing “their” stories. This was the kind of novel their book club would read.
Women in The Bridge Club were close friends. Did they all approve of your writing about them?
Patricia: Some of the women have known each other since kindergarten! Others met in high school and university and early careers. We all came together as a group in our early twenties. Playing bridge was always a part of our lives together.
I combined different aspects of the women’s personalities in some of the characters. Every woman is represented in the story, some more authentically than others.
The women of my real bridge club are still close friends and we continue to be in contact to this day. Five of us live in close enough proximity and we get together when there isn’t a pandemic! Three live in western Canada now. They were incredibly supportive and all signed waivers giving me permission to publish the story.
The fiction is based on fact. Some of the depictions are very true, others not so much.
What message do you want readers to go away with after reading The Bridge Club?
Patricia: As you know, The Bridge Club story culminates in a chapter that is somewhat shocking and very thought-provoking. In many ways, the act might be considered the ultimate test of friendship.
I hope readers finish the story feeling a sense of understanding how deeply the bonds of friendship can go and appreciating the connections they have with women in their own lives.
One of the most satisfying responses I receive is when a reader writes to tell me she has gifted friends with the book and, even better, when I hear that friends are reading the book at the same time and discussing it as they go. These are tremendous rewards for an author and I am truly grateful.
After the success of The Bridge Club, you switched gears. What motivated you to write about the South of France?
Patricia: Readers of The Bridge Club began writing me and asking what other books I had written. Um … well, none at that time. I realized that I loved writing fiction and soon I was working on another novel.
From this first experience, I learned that I wanted to continue to write about mature women. I also realized, since my husband and I were spending extended times in the south of France each summer, that I wanted to set my next novel in that part of the world.
The publishing world was changing and my timing was right for entering the world as an indie author. Soon I discovered the collegial world of authors around the globe as we connected on different social media formats. This led to becoming involved in writers’ groups where we supported one another, shared information, and helped to promote each other’s work.
After self-publishing The Promise of Provence and Promises to Keep, the first two novels of my Love in Provence trilogy, I received the greatest surprise. A senior acquisitions editor from Lake Union Publishing, Amazon’s women’s fiction imprint, contacted me.
They purchased the rights to the trilogy and signed me to a contract. A stand-alone novel, Drawing Lessons, also set in France was published by Lake Union after the trilogy. Apparently, I learned, I am not alone in my passion for the south of France.
Memories You Promised Yourself Tour
The tour of the South of France that Patricia and I share will resume again when the world is safe to travel. I believe I can speak for both of us when I say the tour is very unique. It’s all about BFFs sharing our good times with like-minded women who all become the best of friends. The emails and Zoom calls and social media connections with alumni of our tours and our reunions prove our lasting friendship.
For more information on the tours, learn more from our BFF and destination planner Nancy McGee @ Absolutely Southern France
Details on Patricia’s Publications and Contact Information
Patricia Sands lives two hours north of Toronto, but she can be found part of each year in the South of France. Her award-winning 2010 debut novel, The Bridge Club, is a book club favorite. In December 2020, Patricia published The Bridge Club Tenth Anniversary Edition, with revised content and a new Epilogue. Book Title ~ The Bridge Club (Tenth Anniversary Edition)
The Promise of Provence, which launched Patricia’s three-part Love in Provence series was a finalist for a 2013 USA Best Book Award and a 2014 National Indie Excellence Award, an Amazon Hot New Release in April 2013, and a 2015 nominee for a #RBRT Golden Rose award in the category of romance. Book Two, Promises to Keep, and Book Three, I Promise You This. This trilogy was published by Lake Union Publishing. Drawing Lessons, her fifth novel, also set in the south of France, was released by Lake Union Publishing on October 1, 2017, and a finalist in the Chanticleer Somerset Literary Fiction Awards.
The Villa des Violettes, Patricia’s new 3-volume mini-series, is now available on Amazon and Kobo, including in a new kindle boxset and paperback Complete Collection.