This is my interview with Sharon Santoni.
What was the best thing about writing this book? The ‘tour de France’ that I took with my photographer as we visited each of the girlfriends in their homes, often staying overnight. It was a privilege to be welcomed into these beautiful houses.
Which are your favourite images in this book? I love the picture of Fred on her staircase surrounded by all her shoes. It reflects her fun personality, as she really doesn’t take herself seriously … but she does love her shoes! I also love the picture inside the front cover, of the curtain blowing in the breeze of a tall window at the Chateau de Moissac in Provence. Such a beautiful home!
Who was the last friend you interviewed for this book? I actually interviewed all the girlfriends during the spring, before we started the photo sessions. The very last girlfriend to be photographed was Celestina. We had to wait until September to shoot her portrait, because during the summer she was so busy with her bridal gowns and all those summer weddings.
Which friend in the book have you known the longest? Frederique is the girl I have known for the longest. We are close, we see each other often, and we used to horse ride together regularly. Our children are good friends too!
What traditions from your childhood do you continue? My grandmother always used to have flowers all around her house and in particular on my bedside table when I slept over. I think that flowers in the house and my love of my garden have come from my grandmother and my mother, both great gardeners.
What was the most interesting thing you discovered when writing this book? I learnt a lot about how people give themselves to the camera. For some people it is easier than others, but with my photographer Franck Schmitt, the atmosphere was always relaxed and enjoyable and we managed to reassure even the less experienced girlfriends and they all love the resulting pictures. The same thing applies to the interviews; it can be surprisingly difficult to talk about yourself, to divulge and share. To write the texts for the book, I had to encourage the girls to open up and share the little details that I thought my readers would like to know.
What do your bookshelves at home look like – where are they and how do you arrange your books? Our shelves are very busy, with a lot of books sorted by language and by subject. I regularly re-arrange to put a little order in the shelves and freshen them up. I like to add small paintings or objects in between the books.
Do you have a favourite museum or art gallery? There are many small museums that I love, but I have a special affection for the Musee de l’Annonciade near the busy port of St Tropez. We lived there as a young couple and I loved the calm and peace that reigned inside the museum, a former chapel, while outside the little town was always busy and crowded.
Do you collect anything? I have a big collection of 19th century white soup tureens that I love and I have to confess a weakness for handbags.
What are you working on next? At the moment I am preparing another book and, of course, the blog keeps me busy too. I started the blog because my children were growing up and I didn’t want to find myself at a loose end – I could never have guessed just how busy it would keep me.
Read my review of ‘My Stylish French Girlfriends’ here.