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#1956: Willa Cather to Mary Virginia Boak Cather, August 12 [1920]

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Dearest Mother1:

I am writing from a small fishing village2 on the south coast of France3, right on the Mediterranean sea. The last few weeks have been confused ones. Six weeks ago Edith Lewis4 went on to the south5 of Italy6, and three weeks ago I left Paris7 and came south with Isabelle8 and her husband9 for an interesting but rather hard trip in the old cities of the South of France. We had just got nicely started when I fell ill and upset all our plans. The Hambourgs were so kind about having their trip spoiled, and came right down to this quiet, restful place on the sea where I would get better and where they could spend hours in the sea10 every day. Isabelle is a good swimmer and loves the water.

Last week I was to have left Isabelle and Jan and gone on down to Italy to join Edith. But poor Edith writes that the food shortage in Italy11 has grown more serious every day. She cannot get enough to eat, no matter what she pays. She can never get enough bread, and can get no milk, butter, sugar, cakes or sweets of any kind! So now Edith will have to journey all the way back to France and we will all go to Paris together. Paris is the only place where one can still be as comfortable as before the war. I shall not go to Italy at all, but will sail from the north of France as soon as I can get a boat. It may be a month or six weeks before I can get a boat12, as almost everyone is trying to get home now.

I am tired of poor food myself, and I wish I could get into the kitchen at home and roast a chicken and make a pie! The food in Paris is delicious, but down here the country has not recovered from the war and provisions are scarce.

Goodbye, darling mother. Isabelle sends you her best love. Willie

P.S. Although I was the one who felt the worst, none of us have been very well down here. Isabelle is languid most of the time, too. I don't know why, for the climate is beautiful. Jan is a wonderful man to travel with—never cross about anything. I don't see how a man can be so patient!