A Northern Light in Provence

A Northern Light in Provence

A Novel

Hardcover

May 21, 2024 | ISBN 9780593722213

Ebook

May 21, 2024 | ISBN 9780593722220

About the Book

A woman leaves her coastal Greenland village to translate the works of a renowned Provençal poet and finds her life irrevocably changed, in this tender and romantic novel set in a French village.

“A charming and beautifully written novel about self-discovery, the power of language, and yes, love!”—Sara Gruen, author of Water for Elephants


Ilse Erlund is a translator who lives in a house on stilts along the west coast of Greenland. Isolated and restless in her world by the sea, she convinces her publisher to pay for a trip to the country she has never visited but whose language she speaks fluently: France. Her mission is to translate the verses of Geoffrey “Po” Labaye, a charismatic poet known as “the last living troubadour of Provence.”

Upon arrival in the medieval hilltop village of Belle Rivière, Ilse falls under the spell of the Provençal way of life, captivated by the air, the sun, the vibrant spring colors, and the dulcet sounds of the dialect. Soon enough, Ilse is captivated by the poet, too, and she and Po develop a daily rhythm and warm camaraderie—which is disrupted by the arrival of the poet’s son, Frey. Though he has a fiancée back in Paris, Frey turns his attentions to Ilse, and suddenly she is forced to learn another language, one her translation skills have not prepared her to decode. Where—and with whom—does her future lie?

With an eye and ear attuned to the sensibilities of French life, Elizabeth Birkelund has created a love story about a woman forced to choose between the security of her quiet northern home and the possibility of the life of her dreams.
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Praise for A Northern Light in Provence

“A gorgeous ice-and-fire romance that will plunge you into both the infinite tundra of Greenland and the color-soaked mountains of Provence . . . an immersive, sensual read that demands a hammock, bare feet, and a well-iced bottle of rosé.”—Helen Simonson, author of The Hazelbourne Ladies Motorcycle and Flying Club

“A charming and beautifully written novel about self-discovery, the power of language and yes, love! All of which left me yearning for my own Provençal adventure. Elizabeth Birkelund reminds us that sometimes we must step out of our comfort zones to pursue our dreams.”—Sara Gruen, author of Water for Elephants and At the Water’s Edge

“Birkelund’s lyrical language transported me to sunny Provence, where I imagined myself sitting amidst a vineyard, wine glass in hand, and to the icy waters of Greenland, where I found myself reaching for a warm wool blanket. The developing bond between the troubadour poet and his French translator moved me deeply.”—Alka Joshi, author of The Jaipur Trilogy

“This sweeping, gorgeous novel is more than just a love story—it’s a life-affirming tale about finding who and where you’re meant to be. Birkeland has the uncanny ability to transport you with her prose to both the charming (and cold!) Greenlandic village and then the warm, idyllic French countryside, but her real gift lies in laying bare the truth of the human heart. I loved it.”—Colleen Oakley, author of The Mostly True Story of Tanner & Louise

“With its heart-stopping lyricism and immersive story, this intensely moving, vivid, and evocative novel stayed with me long after I finished it. The questions it poses about life, and love, continue to haunt me.”—Lauren Belfer, author of Ashton Hall

“I was deeply moved by this tender and wise novel about a translator discovering the poetry of daily life—and her own heart—in two of the most beautiful places on earth. Birkelund has crafted an unforgettable story about love, literature, and the difficulties in separating our dreams from our illusions. . . . As surprising as it is delightful.”—Will Schwalbe, New York Times bestselling author of The End of Your Life Book Club

“Birkelund sets her enchanting tale of love and loss in exotic Greenland and sun-dappled Provence. . . . [She] constructs a rich world replete with real emotional stakes and lovely insights on how translation relates to life. . . . This sumptuous tale deserves a wide audience.”Publishers Weekly
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About the Author

Elizabeth Birkelund
Elizabeth Birkelund is the author of two previous novels, The Runaway Wife and The Dressmaker. She started her career in the editorial department of European Travel and Life magazine, then turned to freelance writing as a monthly personal finance columnist for Cosmopolitan. She has written for numerous national publications, including Glamour, Self, Working Woman, and Victoria. You may follow her work and travels on Instagram and Facebook. More by Elizabeth Birkelund
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