Friday, September 30, 2022

Book review of A Year at the French Farmhouse by Gillian Harvey

French Village Diaries book review A Year at the French Farmhouse Gillian Harvey
A Year at the French Farmhouse by Gillian Harvey


A Year at the French Farmhouse by Gillian Harvey

 

Escape to France with this warm, witty romantic read.

 

After ten years of loyal service Daisy Butterworth has been made redundant. Like any clever woman, she knows the cure to redundancy is a little too much wine and her best friend.

 

Only the next morning, Daisy has more than a hangover . . . she has a whole new house – in France!

 

Seeing this as an opportunity instead of a disaster, she’s excited about finally moving to France, just as she and her husband always dreamed of. However, Daisy is in for another surprise. Despite planning to move there for over 20 years, her husband never actually intended to go.

 

So begins a year in France, alone, renovating the gorgeous old farmhouse that is held together by wallpaper and wishes.

 

Will a year at the French farmhouse be just what Daisy needs? Or could it be the previous owner, Frederique, that is the answer to Daisy’s dreams?



French Village Diaries book review A Year at the French Farmhouse Gillian Harvey
A Year at the French Farmhouse by Gillian Harvey

 

My Review

Daisy and Ben’s lives are suddenly thrown into a turmoil neither of them could have anticipated. First Daisy is made redundant, then she mistakenly buys the cottage of ‘their’ dreams in rural France, and then Ben admits he can’t follow her to the new life they had been talking about for decades.

 

What follows is at the same time sad, funny and full of promise, as Daisy throws herself into completing the purchase of a cottage she hasn’t seen and begins the first steps in making a life for herself in France.

 

Daisy was a character who was easy to warm to. I felt her sadness at the changes thrust upon her, but her enthusiasm for her new adventure shone through, despite the frustrations as she tried to adapt to the French ways.

 

What stood out for me the most was the Frenchness of this book and especially the characters we meet. It was obvious that the author has extensive experience of life in rural France, and she has cleverly crafted some lovely characters that I could imagine bumping into in my corner of France, which isn’t too far from where she and her family now call home. She has created a clever mix of keeping the romance of a new life in France alive, for those who read books like this to fuel their dreams, as well as not shying away from the challenges a move like this invariable throws you. Add into the mix a complicated family situation that needs resolving and storyline that highlights the importance of friendship, and this book had a lot to keep me turning the pages.

 

If you are looking for a book to read this autumn that is sure to keep the memory of summer alive as the nights draw in, why not pick up a copy of A Year at the French Farmhouse.

 

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French Village Diaries book review A Year at the French Farmhouse Gillian Harvey
Gillian Harvey

 

Author Bio

 

Gillian Harvey is a freelance journalist and the author of two well-reviewed women’s fiction novels published by Orion. She has lived in Limousin, France for the past twelve years, from where she derives the inspiration and settings for her books. Her first title for Boldwood, A Year at the French Farmhouse, will be published in September 2022.

 

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French Village Diaries book review A Year at the French Farmhouse Gillian Harvey
A Year at the French Farmhouse by Gillian Harvey

 

Monday, September 12, 2022

Book review of The Lost Notebook by Louise Douglas

French Village Diaries book review The Lost Notebook Louise Douglas
The Lost Notebook by Louise Douglas


The Lost Notebook by Louise Douglas

A notebook full of secrets, two untimely deaths – something sinister is stirring in the perfect seaside town of Morranez…

 

It’s summer and holidaymakers are flocking to the idyllic Brittany coast. But when first an old traveller woman dies in suspicious circumstances, and then a campaign of hate seemingly drives another victim to take his own life, events take a very dark turn. 

 

Mila Shepherd has come to France to look after her niece, Ani, following the accident in which both Ani’s parents were lost at sea. Mila has moved into their family holiday home, as well as taken her sister Sophie’s place in an agency which specialises in tracking down missing people, until new recruit Carter Jackson starts.

 

It’s clear that malevolent forces are at work in Morranez, but the local police are choosing to look the other way. Only Mila and Carter can uncover the truth about what’s really going on in this beautiful, but mysterious place before anyone else suffers. But someone is desperate to protect a terrible truth, at any cost…




 

My Review

This book is a gripping mystery with lots going on and a cast of strong characters. I loved the location, that for me, really added to the foundations of the story. Set on the wild Breton coast, the landscape, the sea, the ancient dolmen and over a thousand years of history, all have a part to play. 

 

Mila was an interesting character to get to know. She was unpredictable, a bit reserved and not sure whether she belonged in France with her family or in the UK, where her life had been settled and routine before she found herself looking after her niece in France. I could feel her loneliness, not only because she was away from her partner, but also because it seemed she was the only one who believed that the strange goings on in Morranez were not quite as they first seemed. This did however give her the determined drive she needed not to give up – on the situation but also on Ani, who was vulnerable and at a difficult age, but an easy character to warm to. I could feel the grief that Ani and Mila were experiencing, trying to come to terms with loosing Ani’s parents, and a really special part of the book for me was the conversations between Mila and Sophie.

 

With so much going on, I tried hard to guess the connections between the different characters, locations and situations. As the book progressed and the plot evolved, I was totally gripped, had no idea who to trust, and despite a long list of suspects didn’t fully work things out for myself.

 

If you enjoy unravelling mysteries or books set in Brittany, I’m sure you will love The Lost Notebook.

 

 

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French Village Diaries book review The Lost Notebook Louise Douglas
Louise Douglas

 

Author Bio

 

Louise Douglas is the bestselling and brilliantly reviewed author and an RNA award winner. The Secrets Between Us was a Richard and Judy Book Club pick. She lives in the West Country.

 

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French Village Diaries book review The Lost Notebook Louise Douglas
The Lost Notebook by Louise Douglas