In 1988, Rosemary Bailey and her husband were travelling in the French Pyrenees when they fell in love with, and subsequently bought, a ruined medieval monastery, surrounded by peach orchards and snow-capped peaks. Traces of the monks were everywhere, in the frescoed 13th century chapel, the buried crypt, and the stone arches of the cloister. For the next few years the couple visited Corbiac whenever they could, until 1997, they took the plunge and moved from central London to rural France with their six-year-old son. Entirely reliant on their earnings as freelance writers, they put their Apple Macs in the room with the fewest leaks and sent Theo to the village school. With vision and determination they have restored the monastery to its former glory, testing their relationship and resolve to the limit, and finding unexpected inspiration in the place. This book is not just Rosemary Bailey's account of the challenges of life in a small mountain community, but also a celebration of the rugged beauty of French Catalonia, the pleasures of Catalan cooking, and an exploration of an alternative, often magical world.
Rosemary Bailey is the editor of three Insight guides to France and the project editor for the Dorling Kindersley Eyewitness guide to France. Scarlet Ribbons, her book about her brother - an Anglican priest who died from AIDS in 1996 - was published by Serpent's Tail in 1997. Rosemary's new book, The Man Who Married a Mountain was published in 2006. She lives at Corbiac in the French Pyrenees with her partner, the biographer Barry Miles and their young son, Theo.