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A heartbreakingly honest and funny autobiographical novel about family, love and life in rural France

Anna knows that if you want something really badly, you have to plan it. After all, she’s a chef. To make a béchamel sauce, you need the right ingredients in the right quantities, at the right time.
So when she gets pregnant, she plans a perfect new life in Provence for her perfect new baby.

But when their daughter Freya is born with profound mental and physical disabilities and Tobias decides that he can't love his child, Anna is determined to persuade her husband that keeping Freya and moving to France is still the life they've always wanted.

The family ends up in a vermin-infested farmhouse in the Languedoc – where they become a magnet for a cast of eccentrics. With their rickety home falling down around them, and Freya's hospital visits becoming frighteningly frequent, Anna draws on reserves of strength she never knew she had to get her life back on track and keep her family together.


Heartfelt and funny and beautiful. A great meditation on motherhood and marriage that leaves you thinking about all the issues involved for a long time afterwards

Viv Groskop, Red

A frank, wonderfully unsentimental and often very funny novel about becoming a mother to a disabled child

Kirsty Lang

Saira Shah is a gifted writer, a truly original talent. Her novel declares the presence of an author whose name we will come to cherish

Fergal Keane

Anarchically life-affirming... Shah writes with sensuous passion

New York Times

A touchingly funny, bittersweet first novel... An addictive, honest read


A funny and poignant read

Deirdre O'Brien, Sunday Mirror

This beautiful debut will have parent looking at their child through new eyes

Sarah Reid, UK Regional Press Syndication

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Formats & editions

  • Paperback


    February 15, 2014


    400 pages

    RRP $19.99

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    Find your local bookstore at booksellers.org.au

  • EBook


    April 4, 2013

    Vintage Digital

    400 pages

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