My Archipelago - The Story of a Family by Kit Chapman

She died in her bed at dawn on St. Valentine's Day. In her clenched fist she held the gold cross inscribed with her name. We were taking a short break in St.Paul de Vence when the care home called – sipping an early morning tea at the time. But that was almost two and a half years ago and, since that day, I have failed to shed a tear in her memory. There is an emotional legacy, of course. After all, this was my mother. But although she gave me life, all that is left now is a raging heart – and a mind, obsessed and unforgiving, filled with recollections of a million hurts and injustices. 

This is the strangest conundrum : that I should choose to tell this story – a search perhaps for reconciliation – on an island that chokes on its emotional polarity. Some of our most miserable moments are etched in the stone terraces and pine trees of this house. Grimghosts still linger in the resin we inhale with every breath. Yet, somehow,Louise and I – after decades of contempt and alienation – find a peace and a happiness, both tender and passionate, that is almost unimaginable. Each return is a renewal of love – for the place and for one another. A triumph of the human spirit, but one I sometimes find strange to grasp, like a magician's sleight of hand.