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Sunday, June 16, 2024

Book review of The Riviera House Swap by Gillian Harvey

French Village Diaries book review The Riviera House Swap Gillian Harvey
The Riviera House Swap by Gillian Harvey


The Riviera House Swap by Gillian Harvey 

Would you swap houses with a stranger?

Nina has always played it safe. But when her divorce papers come through on her fortieth birthday she decides enough is enough.

She’s always chosen the sensible route, staying in her stable job and marrying her rather boring ex. In fact – she realises – she’s chosen security over excitement for years. Ever since she refused to elope with her first love: beautiful, poetic, thoughtful Pierre, the man she met aged 17, on her French exchange. The only man who ever made her heart race.

Maybe it’s time to take a few risks?

Impulsively she goes online and finds another kind of French exchange… a house-swap. She can’t imagine what French businessman Jean-Luc wants with her terraced home in rural England, but she can’t wait to stay in his beautiful, spacious, bougainvillea-strewn villa on the French riviera.

She’s not just there for the house though. She’s decided to find the love she missed all those years ago. But will Pierre still be the man of her dreams after all this time?

As two lives collide, will love bloom on the French riviera? 


French Village Diaries book review The Riviera House Swap Gillian Harvey
The Riviera House Swap by Gillian Harvey


My Review

Nina has hit crisis point. Her divorce papers smother the 40th birthday cards on her doormat, the house she shared with her ex has been sold, so she’ll have to move back to her parents, and she’s lost the excitement for her steady, reliable job. I felt for Nina. Her best mate Bess has a husband, children and a job she loves, everything Nina is missing, plus she’s always there with a listening ear and sound advice to help pick Nina back up. It’s no wonder Nina finds herself looking to the past and Pierre, hero of the life-changing French exchange when she was 17. 

Taking a break from work and returning to Cagnes-sur-Mer, just along the Mediterranean cost from Nice, gives her the time to think about her future as she dips her toes back to her teenage past and reflects (a lot) about her life choices. I loved the alternating chapters that relived her memories of the French exchange and the letters exchanged between her and Pierre. Swapping houses with Jean-Luc gives her independence and space to plan what comes next, with the bonus of his family on hand, if she needs a friendly face or a favour. Some of the best bits of this book for me were the plotting that went on about how to find herself ‘just by chance’ at the same location as Pierre. 


French Village Diaries book review The Riviera House Swap Gillian Harvey
The Riviera House Swap by Gillian Harvey


If you want to know if Nina was successful, you will have to read the book, but I will say Cagnes-sur-Mer opened her mind and heart to what she really wanted from life, and I finished another Gillian Harvey book with a smile on my face. So far, Gillian has only written standalone novels, but I really think there is plenty of milage in these characters to return one day (fingers crossed).

If you need the pick-me-up of sunshine on the Riviera, an inspiring emotional journey and a heroine who learns a lot about herself, then let the magic of The Riviera House Swap whisk you away. 

Purchase links

French Village Diaries is a participant in the Amazon EU Associates Programme, an affiliate advertising programme designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.co.uk at no extra cost to you.

Amazon UK purchase link 

Purchase here 


French Village Diaries book review The Riviera House Swap Gillian Harvey
Gillian Harvey


About the author

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 such as A Year at the French Farmhouse and A Month in Provence.

I am a great fan of Gillian’s novels, and you can read my previous reviews here:

The Bordeaux Book Club

A Month in Provence

The French Château Escape

One French Summer

A Year at the French Farmhouse


French Village Diaries book review The Riviera House Swap Gillian Harvey
The Riviera House Swap by Gillian Harvey


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Tuesday, June 4, 2024

Book review of The Golden Gals' French Adventure by Judy Leigh

French Village Diaries book review The Golden Gals' French Adventure Judy Leigh
The Golden Gals' French Adventure by Judy Leigh


The Golden Gals' French Adventure by Judy Leigh

Sixty-nine-year-old Fliss has lived a life!

A career running her own successful business, a beautiful home, a wardrobe full of designer clothes – Fliss has everything she ever wanted. So why does she feel so lonely?

Sixty-six-year-old Shirl didn’t expect to be looking after a baby again, let alone a grown woman who should know better. But with her daughter Gemma struggling to adapt to motherhood, and her boss Fliss increasingly reliant on Shirl to run her life, Shirl never gets a moment to herself.

Fliss might not be great at life’s chores, but she is great at seizing opportunities, so when the chance for a jaunt to France’s beautiful Brittany comes her way, she decides it’s just what she and Shirl need. And as the sun-soaked town of Plouvannec-Sur-Mer begins to work its magic on the women, they realise there’s another way to live.

From cake-laden patisseries, to joyous local fetes, from food, views and beaches to die for, to a community quick to embrace them, not to mention some rather fine French men for company, perhaps it’s not too late for Fliss and Shirl to embrace a new adventure and look forwards to a totally different future.


French Village Diaries book review The Golden Gals' French Adventure Judy Leigh
The Golden Gals' French Adventure by Judy Leigh


My Review

As we join unlikely travelling companions Fliss and Shirl, plus their not so insignificant baggage, I honestly had no idea where this book would take me, aside from a small coastal town in Brittany. The two women are not close friends, neither are they returning to somewhere that has meant a lot to either one of them, and Fliss, who is the instigator of the holiday, seemed initially to float from one flaky plan to the next. 

Shirl had reached a point in her life where she knew the value of hard work, had accepted her lot and had no desire to change. Fliss was lost. Her retirement was not what she had envisaged, she missed the sense of purpose working had given her and she soon realised ex-colleagues weren’t the same as friends. While I adored Shirl from the beginning, Fliss took a little time to grow on me, but a little bit of Breton magic certainly helped us both.


French Village Diaries book review The Golden Gals' French Adventure Judy Leigh
The Golden Gals' French Adventure by Judy Leigh

This book plunged us into life in Brittany where food was served with love and laughter, there was a real sense of community spirit and even some colourful local characters that put a huge smile on my face. Whether the scene was an extended family meal, served outdoors with a view of the sea, or an organised event with music and dancing into the night, everyone was welcome and there was always lots of laughter, fun and friendship. It was a delight to lose myself in as Judy beautifully entwined the lives of old and new friends, French and English customs, and four generations from baby Macey Roux to Maurice in his nineties, mourning the loss of his wife but happy to have his house full once again.

The Golden Gals’ French Adventure is another great read from Judy Leigh that will leave you with a wide grin on your face and either remind you of time spent in Brittany or have you planning your next holiday there – I’m packing my bags.


Purchase links

French Village Diaries is a participant in the Amazon EU Associates Programme, an affiliate advertising programme designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.co.uk at no extra cost to you.

Amazon UK purchase link 

Purchase here 


French Village Diaries book review The Golden Gals' French Adventure Judy Leigh
Judy Leigh


About the author

Judy Leigh is the USA Today bestselling author of The Old Girls’ Network and Five French Hens and the doyenne of the ‘it’s never too late’ genre of women’s fiction. She has lived all over the UK from Liverpool to Cornwall, but currently resides in Somerset.

Here are two other books written by Judy (and set in France) that I have also enjoyed:

Lil’s Bus Trip

The Golden Oldies Book Club

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French Village Diaries book review The Golden Gals' French Adventure Judy Leigh
The Golden Gals' French Adventure by Judy Leigh