Wednesday, July 18, 2018

Book review of The Wandering Vine by Nina Caplan

French Village Diaries book review The Wandering Vine Nina Caplan
The Wandering Vine by Nina Caplan

My review today is for The Wandering Vine: Wine, the Romans and Me by Nina Caplan, a book that starts as it means to go on. Nina throws us straight into a glass of Champagne; the bubbles, the flavours and the memories it evokes, in short, the full experience and I couldn’t wait to carry on reading.

From the south of England to Champagne, Burgundy, the Rhone, Catalonia, Andalusia, Sicily, Campania and Rome, this book criss-crosses the paths taken by Romans, Jews, wine makers and tourists. It is both an historical journey and a personal one too, looking at her family's migration alongside the roots of wine, as well as the importance of knowledge passed from generation to generation.

I find a quick beer after a bike ride is thirst quenching, refreshing and light. It slips down quickly and is over all too soon. This book is not a beer. This book is a fine red wine, probably from Burgundy with added César grapes (something I learned from within its pages). It is full bodied, has structure and many layers of flavours. It deserves to be opened at just the right moment when you know you have the time to fully absorb all it has to offer; its careful blend of history, geography, migration and customs.

Nina’s knowledge is vast, her delivery is engaging, and she would be a perfect wine tasting partner. I learned a lot, even if as a reviewer reading to deadlines, I sadly felt rushed; gulping down rather than savouring each chapter, behaviour any wine connoisseur would shudder at. I will reopen this book, a luxury you do not get with a bottle of wine, and next time I’ll take my time.

This book fuelled my passion for reading, writing and wine and will appeal to those with an interest in European history, wine lovers and memoir readers too.

The Wandering Vine is available in ebook and hardback versions and links to Amazon can be found below. I am delighted that Nina will be joining me back here on Sunday, taking us to Burgundy for her perfect Lazy Sunday in France. 

You can also read more from Nina at her website here and follow her on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.

Sunday, July 15, 2018

Lazy Sunday in France, book review of When Archie Met Rosie by Lynda Renham

#LazySundayinFrance book review When Archie Met Rosie Lynda Renham French Village Diaries
When Archie Met Rosie by Lynda Renham

Welcome to another #LazySundayinFrance and after partying in the village for the last two nights, I need a gentle, lazy day today. What could be better than the latest novel from Lynda Renham, When Archie Met Rosie, that not only has one of the prettiest covers but is also a cleverly written book.

We meet Rosie at a life-changing moment when her ordinary world is completely turned upside down. Paris, or rather the dream of Paris, becomes a little thread of hope that winds its way through some of her toughest days. As she is coming to terms with her new normal, a chance meeting with a family from a wealthier area unexpectedly leads to friendship and confidences that span generations. Archie is lonely following the death of his wife but would rather be on his own than be manipulated by his overbearing family. Meeting Rosie gives him much needed companionship and the possibility of a brighter future.

Written in the first person, with each chapter from the point of view of a different character, this book is a great glimpse into what goes on inside the heads of others. Lynda cleverly includes different ages from different backgrounds, all wanting different things from life and we learn their insecurities, regrets, hopes and dreams. She covers death, loneliness, debt and inheritance as well as family dynamic, age, affaires and virginity, but with humour too.  

I really enjoyed this book that highlights that we often don’t realise what we’ve got until it’s gone and I’m sure it’s one that will make you think, nurture your dreams of Paris and feel good inside. It would be a perfect companion to a lazy Sunday.

When Archie Met Rosie is available in ebook (currently only 99p) and paperback format and links to Amazon can be found below.

You can follow Lynda on her website, Twitter and Facebook and read all about her love of France in my interview with her here.

If you are a writer, blogger or run an independent business in France and have something you think would be ideal to be included in a future Lazy Sunday in France post, please do get in touch.

Friday, July 13, 2018

France et Moi with Lynda Renham

Welcome to ‘France et Moi’ where this week I am talking to author Lynda Renham about what France means to her.

French Village Diaries France et Moi interview with author Lynda Renham
Lynda Renham

Lynda Renham is author to many popular romantic comedy and gripping psychological thriller novels. She lives in Oxford, UK. She has appeared on BBC radio discussion programs and is a prolific blogger, Twitter and when not writing can usually be found wasting her time on Facebook. 

Lynda lives in Oxfordshire with her second husband and cat. 

Firstly, I think France is a special place and it is famed for many things including its cheese, wine and diverse holiday locations plus, dare I say it strikes and dog poo littered streets. What do you think makes France so very unique and ‘French’?

Lynda: The language of France is beautiful. It appeals greatly to me. I only wish I could speak it myself. The most unique thing about France for me, however, is the poppy fields. That beautiful sight as the sun pours onto fields of bright red poppies. Their slender stems swaying in a gentle breeze. That is France.

2) With plenty of space and lovely scenery, France is a great place to explore. If you were to take a day off from writing were in France would you take off to?

Lynda: Provence and to the beautiful house I once stayed in there which wonderfully overlooked a field of poppies. How more perfect can it get?

3) What is your fondest memory of time spent in France?

Lynda: A wonderful week spent in the Loire Valley. It truly was a beautiful trip. We took lots of long walks through the quiet countryside. Enjoyed delicious French wine and perfectly cooked French meals. Lunch was spent in the gardens of the stone chateau we had hired, where we ate pate, cheese and olives with French bread. Unforgettable.  

4) Imagine you are sitting outside a French café at 10.00am on a sunny morning watching the world go by, what do you order from the waiter?

Lynda: Croissants, coffee and possibly a few macaroons. Why not?

5) Quick question; English chocolate éclair with whipped cream filling or French éclair au chocolat with crème patisserie filling?

Lynda: French éclair au chocolat with crème patisserie filling. What else. French eclairs are the best.

6) France has many different cheeses, a silly question, but which French cheese areyou?

Lynda: I like to think of myself as a soft, fresh and lively goat cheese. But I think others might say I’m a rich Camembert.

7) Every region in France has its own culinary specialty, do you have a favourite regional dish? 

Lynda: I’ve not experienced a great deal of French food. So, I can’t really answer that honestly.

French Village Diaries France et Moi interview with author Lynda Renham
When Archie Met Rosie by Lynda Renham

8) France gets a mention in more than one of your books, with Paris being the dream destination for Rosie in your latest novel When Archie Met Rosie. What do you think it is about Paris that makes so many of us dream of visiting? 

Lynda: Oh, it’s the romance surely! How can you not feel romantic in Paris? The beauty and exhilaration of the city must light the fire of romance in you.

9) If money and commitments were no object where in France would you like to own a property and what sort of place would it be?

Lynda: I’d love to own a property in Provence. It would be a large farmhouse with adjoining poppy fields, of course. It would have a huge lounge with a beautiful open fireplace. Many bedrooms for visitors and a beautiful chamomile lawn where one could sit and enjoy the poppy fields. I’d have a small courtyard overlooking the poppy fields with benches and tables to enjoy a nice glass of red wine.

Finally, do you have any plans to revisit France in the pages of a future project? 

Lynda: Not at the moment. I’m taking a short break. But you never know when wonderful France will feature in one of my books.

Thank you for taking the time to answer some questions about France and you.

Read more from Lynda at her web page and on Twitter and Facebook

Join me back here on Sunday when I will be reviewing When Archie Met Rosie which is a real feel good read (currently only 99p) and available in ebook and paperback format, links to Amazon can be found below. 

You might also like Wedding Bels (previously released as Croissants and Jam), another of Lynda's books set in France. You can read my review here.

Wednesday, July 11, 2018

Book review of Taking Care of Business by J.D. De Roeck

French Village Diaries Book review Taking Care of Business by J. D. De Roeck
Taking Care of Business J.D. De Roeck

Taking Care of Business
by J. D. De Roeck

When Paul Smith travels to the south of France for a sales conference, events conspire to drag him into a world of kidnappings, blackmail and murder.

Following a violent incident, Paul instinctively offers refuge to a girl he believes to be a vulnerable lost soul in a desperate situation, only to find that all is not as it appears. Unwittingly, he finds himself caught between competing international crime syndicates as they go to war, and two powerful Russian families as they fight for control of a vast Russian conglomerate. 

What begins as a routine business trip to Nice, turns into a journey of self-discovery that takes him to some of the most glamorous locations on the Cote d’Azur. Paul is compelled to confront each new escalating threat in turn, while his neatly ordered world spirals relentlessly out of control.

As events unfold, he is forced to challenge everything he thought he knew about himself, before finally embracing the danger and brutal violence he encounters along the way.

Can Paul get to the truth, and does he have what it takes to keep those he cares about safe, and himself alive?

Information about the Book
Title: Taking Care of Business
Author: J. D. De Roeck
Release Date: 3rdJuly 2018
Genre: Crime/Thriller
Publisher: Clink Street Publishing
Format: Paperback

My Review:
As soon as we met Paul I felt sad for him. His job didn’t seem to light his fire, he no longer seemed to be able to light girlfriend Sophie’s fire and when he suddenly finds himself rescuing a Russian escort girl from the corridor of his hotel in Nice, he quickly seems to become obsessed with her. From where I was sitting, things didn’t look good. Paul finds himself in the wrong place at the wrong time (or maybe it’s the right place at the right time) and in doing so becomes involved in the murky world of Russian hitmen, billionaires and escort girls. But the Paul at the beginning of the book is not the same Paul as the one at the end.

To begin with we see very little except Paul’s hotel room and the bizarre things that unfold within, coupled with flashbacks of dirty deeds in Russia, and I did wonder if we would ever venture further afield. Then our slightly mismatched trio get on the trail of a plot involving the daughter of a Russian billionaire and there is no stopping them.

I should confess that I don’t normally read thrillers, but a little like Paul, I was seduced by events occurring in Nice. I was quickly reminded that the underground world of Russian business is a hard-hearted place to be, full of people who will stop at nothing to get what they want. This meant there were many times I had to be big, brave and carry on, despite my head shouting at Paul to get the police involved and walk away now. The suspense, the violence and the danger; you probably need a stronger constitution than mine to fully enjoy this book.

French Village Diaries Book review Taking Care of Business by J. D. De Roeck
J.D. De Roeck
Author Information:
Residing in the East Midlands, J. D. de Roeck is a career hotelier and company director. He loves travel and regularly visits the South of France, Nice, Monaco and Cannes.Taking Care of Businessis his first novel. The inspiration for this novel came from one of his many trips abroad. 

French Village Diaries Book review Taking Care of Business by J. D. De Roeck
Taking Care of Business blog tour

Sunday, July 8, 2018

Lazy Sunday in France, a walk in the sunflowers

French Village Diaries #LazySundayinFrance a walk in the sunflowers
A Sunday morning walk

Welcome to another Lazy Sunday in France and today I’m taking you on an early morning walk through the sunflower fields. 

This morning, a small group of us set off earlier than originally planned, in an attempt to beat the worst of the heat, but as you can see from our shadows, the sun was already busy.

French Village Diaries #LazySundayinFrance a walk in the sunflowers
Sunday is no lazy day for the farmers

As were the farmers. Sunday is rarely a day off for the farmers, especially when the weather is good and it’s harvest time.

French Village Diaries #LazySundayinFrance a walk in the sunflowers
It's harvest time

The combine harvesters and balers were out in the wheat and the hay fields.

French Village Diaries #LazySundayinFrance a walk in the sunflowers
Sunflower fields

But it was the sunflowers I was looking forward to seeing and the morning sunlight showed them at their best.

French Village Diaries #LazySundayinFrance a walk in the sunflowers
A perfect sunflower

The sight of a perfect sunflower never fails to make me smile.

French Village Diaries #LazySundayinFrance a walk in the sunflowers
Cows in the shade

We weren’t the only ladies out and about this morning, but these two were sensibly staying in the shade.

We all agreed we were very lucky to live in a village with a strong sense of community and all this beauty on our doorstep.

I hope your Sunday is a good one.