Love at first sight was the only thing they agreed on.
How many times have you chalked up the end of a relationship to bad timing? For Nancy and PJ, the answer is plenty. It took living separately in Canada, the US and France, two divorces and twenty years for timing to work out. And when it finally did, in the South of France, the star-crossed twosome discovered they had very different versions of their love story. In writing. In passionate, powerful and yes, sometimes pathetic, black-and-white.
The twin journals that make up You Me & France document an off-the-scale love story of tension, trauma and travel. Their fated journey is told in a fast-paced – and engagingly quirky – dual narrative.
As a publishing insider commented: “Like most idle readers, I can’t resist being jump-started by a plot powered with characters at once extraordinary and believable. Let the Ironman and the Woman of Steel take you by the hands and lead you on a journey towards love at its strangest. On the way, be prepared for your companions to morph into Wuss and Puss, into the Broken People, into something near insanity.”
You Me & France kicks off when 21-year-old Nancy and PJ, 25, first set eyes on each other on a French immersion program in Canada in 1990. Cracks soon appear in their young relationship and the book depicts the drama of PJ’s first marriage proposal, their frequent break-ups and rollicking reunions across their twenties and thirties. While restless Nancy hopscotches across Canada and France, PJ moves to New York and then Los Angeles to pursue acting and comedy.
After ten years of a boomerang relationship, Nancy tells PJ she is getting married, hoping he will sweep her off her feet, romcom style. Instead, he weds another three months later in Las Vegas. Both now uneasily married, the couple continue to carry a torch for each other that they silence with alcohol and pills.
Seven years pass. Divorced Nancy, now a journalist in the South of France, meets up with PJ in Toronto to see “what if”. Although PJ realizes he is still in love with Nancy, he holds on to his meaningless marriage until an epiphany running a marathon in England leads him to divorce and departure from LA.
Timing is on their side when Nancy randomly calls PJ a few weeks before he relocates to Niceville, Florida. Impulsively, he jumps on a plane to visit Nancy in the Ville de Nice on the French Riviera.
France tore them apart once. Will it again?
International Praise From Other People About This Book
“Like most idle readers, I can’t resist being jump-started by a plot powered with characters at once extraordinary and believable. Let the Ironman and the Woman of Steel take you by the hands and lead you on a journey towards love at its strangest. On the way, be prepared for your companions to morph into Wuss and Puss, into the Broken People, into something near insanity. This is a vivid and unforgettable tale, and I hope you will conclude as I did that when it comes to creating a brilliant narrative, two hearts are better than one, like The Boss says.”
Nick Kent , MD/CEO, Peter Owen Publishers, Saxmundham, UK
“You, Me & France is an enlightening tale of how two people meant to be together can work their hardest “not to be together” but can’t stop the inevitable magnetism they have. It’s tough, hard and sad. But it also shows you how love happens when life gets in the way.”
Noah Segal, Co-President, Elevation Films, Toronto, Canada
“You, Me & France shines a light on the unique, complex ways in which “we humans” navigate relationships and serves as a reminder that hope, love and honesty are vital. The candid thoughts and truths shared by both Nancy & PJ in their respective versions of their love story are refreshing and authentic. The back and forth, he said-she said storytelling method is captivating and works wonderfully. I laughed, I cried, and fell in love with their love story as I followed their rocky journey to finally choosing one another.”
Lacey Tu, Documentary Film Producer and IEFTA Board President, Monaco
“An engaging and punchy love story of crossed paths and crossed lines, of missed chances and miscommunication.”
Sian Jones, English Language Consultant, Nice, France
“How long would you wait for the love of your life? A thoroughly modern love story. First love, lost love, forever love. The messes we make and the possibilities that open when we learn to finally love ourselves.”
Rebecca McVeigh, Producer, Writer, Nice, France
ABOUT THE AUTHORS
Following a hiccup of a marriage in Canada, Nancy Heslin set out for a fresh start in the South of France in 2001. After turbulent life-challenges, she eventually entered the world of billionaires, as the Editor-in-Chief of Forbes Monaco. She became a naturalised French citizen and established herself as a media personality in the region, including: taking the TGV train with Tom Cruise to Marseille for People Magazine; and talking about women’s issues with Cherie Blair on Riviera Radio. A well-known figure in the world of ÖTILLÖ swimrun, Nancy also won the 2022 French Coastal Rowing Masters Championship title representing Monaco. You, Me & France is based on true accounts documented during twenty years of journal writing.
PJ Heslin’s career in academia was derailed by a need for a laugh. After graduate school in Montreal, he jumped into standup comedy with the hope of landing a role in the Saturday Night Live television show in New York. He ended up working in Los Angeles on red carpet events, including: the Oscars and Emmys for HBO; and interviewing the biggest names in music and film, from Mick Jagger to Tom Hanks. For years, he was a bouncer at a well-known music and comedy club, which is how he ended up in a Lincoln Town Car with Matthew McConaughey. He eventually made a sharp turn as the head of IT for various entertainment companies. Throughout it all, he competed in Ironman and ultra races and he is an avid cyclist.
NANCY: Without my brother Dave and sister-in-law Nancy, my adventures in France and this story would simply not be. They unconditionally opened their home in Valbonne to me when life shattered in Canada. Matt, Diana and Brady welcomed me like a big sister and filled my lonely heart with a different kind of love
Thanks to Mike Meade at the Riviera Reporter who took a chance on me when I arrived in France some twenty years ago and gave me my first byline; to Amanda Sadlowski at Fodor’s Travel for the opportunity to develop as travel writer; to ÖTILLÖ’s Michael Lemmel for teaching me how to live outside my comfort zone and paving the way to sports writing; to Luiz F Costa Macambira of Forbes Monaco for having faith in me; and to Saïd, the ultimate storyteller.
A round of applause to our gifted editor Wendy Yorke for transforming me from a news writer to an author, my sincerest gratitude for this journey together.
To my family – a thousand splendid thank yous to my mom, whom I absolutely adore, for her love and for encouraging me every day to write this, and to Lynn and Chris. Sian Jones, Susan Feaster and Lacey Tu: your friendships outshine all the bling in Monaco.
I am appreciative for each moment and each person mentioned in this book for it all led me – enfin – to PJ. Everyone should have a PJ in their corner; I count my blessings that he wanted to learn French.
PJ: I would like to thank my family who were my first audience but were also supportive in any creative endeavour I undertook. In particular, I want to thank my sister Lisa. She was there on that pivotal weekend in England to run her first marathon when I decided that my entire life had to change. She supported me in that decision and months later drove with me from Los Angeles to Florida after my separation providing lots of laughs on the way as opposed to lots of tears.
I also want to thank my friend Noah, who in addition to being one of the best human beings I know, has also supported me in my creative endeavors by laughing at my dumb jokes and hiring me for one of my first writing jobs. Karen, my first manager; who took me on as a client and convinced me that I was funny enough and good enough as a comic to move to New York and to this day, still asks if she can submit me for something she sees “you’d be perfect for”. Also to Wendy whose editing and enthusiasm for this book was infectious.
Most of all – Nancy. In addition to being the love of my life, her drive and discipline are inspiring. She pushes me to swim that extra kilometer, run that little bit faster, write just one more page, punch up another funny line. Without her, this wouldn’t be a book, it’d just be stories we tell one another.
Nancy & PJ Finally Get Together:
Coming January 23, 2023, Nancy and PJ Finally Get Together.
Be honest, how many times have you chalked up a relationship ending to bad timing? For Hosts Nancy and PJ Heslin, the answer is A LOT. It took living separately in Canada, the US and France, 2 divorces and 20 years for timing to work out. And when it finally did in the South of France, the couple discovered they had two different versions of their love story. We all do, right? But what if your side is not the whole story and you have the journals to prove it?
What You’ll Hear:
Nancy & PJ Finally Get Together is a podcast on love and relationships, and the two lives in between co-hosted by Nancy and PJ Heslin.
Writer, Podcaster, Media Personality
Following a hiccup of a marriage in Canada, Nancy Heslin set out for a fresh start in the South of France in 2001 and eventually entered the world of billionaires as the Editor-in-Chief of Forbes Monaco.
She is the founder of Good News, Monaco and reports on Rivera Radio. As a local media personality in the region, she has been featured on ARTE, Channel 5, BBC and the likes. She covers Monaco to St Tropez for Fodor’s Travel, is editor for ÖTILLÖ swimrun and is a former stringer for People Magazine.
PJ Heslin started his career as a standup comedian in Toronto in the Nineties. This led him to New York with a role on Sex in the City with a move to Los Angeles, working the red carpet for HBO interviewing celebs from Oscar winner Tom Hanks to Mick Jagger. Meanwhile he worked at LA’s comedy and music club, Largo, which is how he ended up in a Lincoln town car with Mathew McConaughey one night. The avid cyclist eventually switched to IT and then education.
Photos Ed Wright Images