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Increasingly dissatisfied with the humdrum routine of corporate life, Jennifer Andrewes does what many of us can only dream about when in 2014 she and her family pack up and spend two seasons living in a French village in the south-west region of France. But it’s not just any region as Jennifer discovers – the Aude region is on the 42nd parallel north. Wellington, her home city here in New Zealand, is on the 42nd parallel south, and is the nearest thing the Aude has to an antipodal sister city.

Was it a coincidence then that for so many years this long-time Francophile had a sense of living her life in parallel? On the one hand, very much present in the minutiae of her family’s everyday lives in New Zealand – and yet always with half a mind thousands of kilometres away in the perfect French village.

A family that shares a love of travel and a passion for language and culture, they find they enjoy the experience so much that they repeat it two years later. And then become dedicated to finding their very own long-term pied-à-terre.

Parallel Lives tells the story of their time in a small town in the south of France in the foothills of the Pyrenees: how they came to live there, the experiences gained and life lessons learned while living – on two separate occasions – on two sides of the same historic square.

In some ways, it’s a story that is still being written as they work out how to live a long-term life on two sides of the world. But as Beatrix Potter said: ‘Stories don’t always end how their author intended, but there is joy in following where they take us.’

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“I think you will have to make a decision sooner or later. Or bail out altogether. The local agents must be tearing their hair out. Sacré bleu!”

Rubybaby, Stuff.co.nz

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