Style and the art of writing in France

A chance meeting with a man on a boat in Thailand led Helena Frith Powell and her husband to rural Languedoc

Helena Frith Powell moves beyond beauty and chick-lit with her latest novel - and tells Jessica Knipe how moving to France has changed her life forever

Matching bra and knickers – check. Daytime-appropriate lipgloss – check. Driving through the picture-perfect vineyards of the Languedoc on my way to Gabian should be relaxing. But the only thing on my mind as I prepare to meet beauty journalist, four-time novelist and anti-ageing guru Helena Frith Powell is whether or not my skin looks sufficiently cleansed. 

Gracefully brushing past the olive branches and lemon trees of her impeccable French country home, Frith Powell is manicured and blow-dried to perfection. I shouldn’t be all that surprised, since the concluding words of her successful guide to being stylish Two lipsticks and a lover are that the foremost thing to do to become more French (read 'more elegant') is to get a good hairdresser and manicurist. She wrote the book, and eight others, while bringing up three children, writing columns for The Times and the Daily Mail, and running a blog reviewing beauty products (www.beautyorbeast.uk). 

As it happens, today her hair is glossy and bright from the addition of “silverlights”, a peppering of grey streaks and the latest of her anti-ageing experiments for the Daily Mail

The theory is that there comes a certain age when it defies belief to have a head of perfectly coloured hair. Grey streaks provide the transition to the day the grey naturally takes over entirely. Frith Powell knows all about these techniques – her mastermind topic is beauty, elegance and that je ne sais quoi that French women seem to be born with. After many years spent in the heart of the French countryside, around 45 minutes from the nearest city, Frith Powell has become a veritable expert on French style, and especially on the difference between French and English women. 

The secluded property Helena Frith Powell calls home

From chick-lit to art history intrigue

Her novels (Love in a Warm Climate, The Ex-factor) could be described as easy-going chick-lit, but Frith Powell’s latest novel, The Arnolfini Marriage, has a lot more to it than ...

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