London-born Marion Kaplan is, first of all, a photojournalist. So her new book on France, where she has lived for 25 years, France - Reflections and Realities, includes more than 200 photos. They range from ducks beside her rural pond to a maker of quality Armagnac, to Le Corbusier's renowned Ronchamp chapel, to the ravishing Corsica coast, to gorgeous châteaux and glorious churches, dedicated cheesemakers, stunning landscapes and views from Biarritz to Bretagne.
For much of her career she was based in Africa, working as freelance for a wide range of magazines and newspapers that included National Geographic, Time and People in the United States, The Observer and The Times in London. She photographed Idi Amin and Jomo Kenyatta, mercenaries in the Congo and wildlife across the continent. Her favourite story: a voyage she made for National Geographic aboard an Arab dhow, one of the last to follow ancient trading routes in the Indian Ocean. She related her Africa experiences in Focus Africa, a book on the independence era.
When she moved to Portugal, stories she worked on there led to her book The Portuguese: The Land and Its People. The dhow voyage story is retold in So Old a Ship.
In France, she finally began to slow down. Although no longer chasing news, she delighted in the topics that came her way. She met the Louvre curator who had saved the Mona Lisa from Nazi looting, leading chefs and winemakers, conservationists dedicated to vultures and to tiny tortoises, scientists in the Camargue.
Travel assignments took her along the Loire, across the Auvergne, up into the Jura and deep into France profonde. Now, all the highlights of Marion Kaplan's French life, along with thought-provoking comment, are gathered into France - Reflections and Realities. It's colourful, it's lively, it's a refreshing new look at a country which millions of travellers know and love. Or, just occasionally, love to hate.