Mistakes Were Made (Some in French)
Having lived a perfectly satisfactory life in California for over two decades, Fiona Lewis wakes up one day in her fifties and asks herself, Is this it? Is this the existence I’m meant to have? She can hardly complain. After all, her life has been full of adventure and privilege: London and Paris in the ’60s, Los Angeles in the wild ’70s. Now, however, she feels lost, as if she were slipping backward over the edge of a ravine, abandoned not only by her old self, but by that reliable standby, optimism. Realizing she has to find a way to reinvent herself, she impulsively––and against her husband’s wishes––buys a rundown chateau in the South of France.
Alone in the depths of the countryside, she contemplates her childhood, her affairs––Roman Polanski, Roger Vadim––her years as an actress in some good and some questionable films, and her first Hollywood marriage to the damaged son of a movie star. As the renovation drags on, fighting with a band of impossible French workmen, she is forced to battle her own fears: her failure to become a real success, her inability to have children, and her persistent dread of getting old. She also has to contend with her husband, who has no interest in the rural French life. In fact, he resents her obsession with France, and with the house that seems to have such a hold over her. And he’s not wrong. He cannot understand why she’s not happy with her idyllic life in Los Angeles, with him, and why she suddenly needs to escape.
It’s a long-standing predicament that many women must confront, along with aging, failed relationships, and missed opportunities. And yet this provocative, brave, and sometimes hilarious memoir takes a stunning turn when all those unanswered questions develop into a tender and unexpected love story.
Fiona Lewis was a model and actress in the sixties, starring in Roman Polanski’s The Vampire Killers, Ken Russell’s Lisztomania, and Brian de Palma’s The Fury. She is the author of the novel Between Men, and her writing has appeared in The Observer, The New Yorker, and Talk Magazine.