Have you ever heard of Peter Mayle? He's the writer-guy who has wrung Provence nearly dry of anecdotes, but left plenty of fresh, juicy morsels for me. Think of me as Mary-Lou Femayle, only more adventurous, more insightful, and, as early readers of Playing House in Provence report, "funnier."
I was born funny. Every troubled family needs a court jester. By the time I was three years-old I had assumed the role.
"Why am I a super girl" I asked my mother while at the dinner table.
"Why?" she played along.
"Because I ate my soup."
Hey, I was only three! .

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About Mary-Lou

I was born in Fairfield, Connecticut to a mother who believed that writing thank you notes was a high art, and to a father who convinced me that one of life’s great joys was the pursuit of “le mot juste.” That may account for why I became a writer.

I necked my way through The Cambridge School of Weston in Weston, Massachusetts, Bryn Mawr College and Brandeis University. Since the left side of my brain is the size of a chick pea, I had no option but to major in English and American literature. My professors suggested that I consider a career as a writer, but I wasn’t paying attention at the time. I had fallen in love with a classmate, Larry Weisman, and being a child of the 50’s, couldn’t wait to commit myself to a life of stunning conformity. We were married young, as we were supposed to.

Larry yawned his way through Columbia Law School, while I supported us by working as a clerk-typist at the Oxford University Press. Once Larry had his law degree we moved to the suburbs, had the two children prescribed by the culture at the time, Adam and, 19 months later,  Peter, and in the prescribed rapid succession. It wasn’t until I had met my child-bearing expectations that it dawned on me that decades of uncharted nothingness lay between me and my next role, grandmother.  

Just when I was wondering what I would do with the rest of my life, our two and one-half year-old son Peter, was diagnosed with a fatal disease – Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy.  He might live as long as twenty years, the doctors said, and he would grew steadily weaker. Suddenly I had two lives to save, Peter’s, if I could, and my own. But Peter’s was a swift case; he was wheelchair bound by the age of seven.

The feminist movement influenced me profoundly, and in a paradoxical way. I loved feminism because I, too, wanted to get out of the house and work. And I hated feminism, because I couldn’t. I had to care for Peter. Too much of the time I was furious with Larry because he got to go out of the house, as if the anxieties of a law practice did not take their toll. At the time I didn’t see it that way; as far as I was concerned he was going to a picnic.

What could I do besides lie on my stomach on the living room rug alongside my two young sons , push my matchbox car and try to say “vroom, vroom” the way they did?

Then I remembered. I could write.

I started writing for free for the local weekly newspaper. I wrote a column devoted to social and gender satire called “Tongue in Cheek.” After a few years I was free-lancing for almost the same amount of money for The New York Times and other national magazines and journals.

I published my first book, Intensive Care, to very good reviews and only moderate sales. I like to think it might have done better if most bookstores hadn’t shelved it under “MEDICAL.” I hope they don’t put Playing House in Provence under “CHILDREN’S BOOKS.”