Sunday, September 16, 2018

Lazy Sunday in France, Poitiers

Ed was home for the weekend, so we decided to combine taking him back to uni with a day out in Poitiers. Morning coffee, a picnic in Blossac park and a tasty sweet treat, all with blue sky and sunshine was just perfect for a Lazy Sunday in France and I really can't think of a nicer way to have spent my 47th birthday. 

French Village Diaries Lazy Sunday in France Poitiers
Morning coffee, Place du Maréchal-Leclerc, Poitiers

French Village Diaries Lazy Sunday in France Poitiers
Sunny morning in Poitiers 

French Village Diaries Lazy Sunday in France Poitiers
With Ed, Parc de Blossac, Poitiers

French Village Diaries Lazy Sunday in France Poitiers
Parc de Blossac, Poitiers

French Village Diaries Lazy Sunday in France Poitiers
Quirky ducks, Parc de Blossac, Poitiers

French Village Diaries Lazy Sunday in France Poitiers
Sitting by the fountain, Parc de Blossac, Poitiers

French Village Diaries Lazy Sunday in France Poitiers
A birthday Broyé du Poitou






Friday, September 14, 2018

Book review of Blame it on Paris by Lise McClendon


French Village Diaries book review Blame it on Paris Lise McClendon

Lise McClendon Blame it on Paris

(mystery)
Release date: August 24, 2018 at Thalia Press
256 pages
 

SYNOPSIS

In this seventh installment of the Bennett Sisters Mysteries, Francie goes to Paris when she is accused of wrongdoing in her law office. She has received a mysterious letter connecting her ex-husband to an American student jailed for drug crimes. A chance encounter with an old boyfriend makes her spring in Paris more exciting but between the accusations against her at home, and the difficulty of doing any good in Paris, things are never smooth for a Bennett sister in France

MY REVIEW

Blame it on Paris sees us back in France with Merle Bennett and one of her sisters, Francie, and this time it is Francie who gets most of the main action. Following an accusation at the law firm in the US where she works, she finds herself with enough time on her hands to investigate the case of a forgotten American, imprisoned in Paris on drug charges. Paris, an investigation to solve and a hint at romance; I couldn’t wait to get stuck into this book.

Strange and often dangerous situations seem to have a habit of finding the Bennett sisters and they can’t help but become caught up in the middle of them. However, they are a force to be reckoned with; intelligent, knowledgeable in law and with real determination to discover the truth, no matter how much it has been hidden - never underestimate them. 

Despite feeling this book had less drama than the previous books in the series, and missing being in Merle’s cottage in the Dordogne, there was still a lot to enjoy here. Lise created a real sense of place with the setting of this book and I could easily imagine myself in Paris, by the River Seine, and taste the delights the sisters and Merle’s partner Pascal discovered in the many hidden away bistros they visited. I enjoyed Francie’s sense of discovery and chance of romance that Paris gave her, but as always in this series of books it’s the twists and turns of the investigation that I love. Francie and Merle are led to many doors, but not everyone is keen to talk or help them, but perseverance, team work and with the delicious Pascal on their side, I had no doubt they would be able to unravel the truth in the end.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

French Village Diaries book review Blame it on Paris Lise McClendonLise McClendon is the author of sixteen novels, mysteries, and thrillers, including her popular Bennett Sisters series featuring five sisters who are lawyers. Lise herself is not a lawyer but a francophile scribbler who enjoys imagining different lives, loves, and adventures. Her first mystery, The Bluejay Shaman, was published in 1994. She lives in Montana.
Visit her website
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French Village Diaries book review Blame it on Paris Lise McClendon  


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Thursday, September 13, 2018

Book review of A Letter from Paris by Louisa Deasey

French Village Diaries book review A Letter from Paris Louisa Deasey
A Letter from Paris by Louisa Deasey

My review today is for A Letter from Paris, a family memoir by Louisa Deasey, daughter of Australian writer Denison Deasey. 

Those of you who are regular readers will know that I love memoirs and I have to start this review by saying this is the most moving and beautifully written memoir I have read in a long while.
 
French Village Diaries book review A Letter from Paris Louisa Deasey
Louisa Deasey
Louisa Deasey grew up with the cloud of shame about her father Denison, who died when she was only six, hanging over her. She soon learned not to ask about her dad when she was growing up, as she was made to feel guilty if she did. All she really knew about him she learned from reading his obituaries, which sadly gave her no sense of pride for a man who led a rather remarkable life. This all changed when she received a mysterious message from Paris; the granddaughter of an old flame of Denison’s contacts Louisa in the days following her grandmother’s death. This proves to be the catalyst Louisa needs to discover for herself the life her father led before he returned to Australia and settled down with his family.

I have to admit that I had never heard of Denison Deasey before reading this book, but I soon became as enthralled by Louisa’s journey to discover the truth about his life as she was. Denison lived in another era; experiencing life in the post war years in Europe, where he contrasts his experiences in London, Paris and the south of France through his diary entries and constantly compares Europe, where he feels at home to an Australia he feels lacks creativity. I learned a lot, both culturally and historically.

Alongside her amazing journey, this book contains many remarkable people, who although not technically related, become real family to Louisa as they help her find her way from the cold and cheerless library archives in Australia, to jet-lagged rendezvous in London, to reconnecting with her godmother in Paris and finally, coming ‘home’ to a villa on the French coast. I devoured the pages, feeling I was there with her, experiencing every step.

This is an emotional read; many would have given up when discoveries became difficult or leads became dead ends. Louisa finds the strength to keep going, learning that sometimes it’s the chance encounters with strangers who give us the most support and help us on our way.

A Letter from Paris is out now in ebook and paperback format and is a must read for memoir lovers. Links to Amazon can be found below.

If you too love memoirs, come and join us over at We Love Memoirs, a fun and friendly Facebook group who I can’t wait to share this gem of a memoir with.



Wednesday, September 12, 2018

Book review of The Pretender by Katie Ward

French Village Diaries book review The Pretender Katie Ward
The Pretender by Katie Ward


The Pretender 

France 2000: Two babies are born on the same day just two hours apart - but to very different lives. Isabella is a Princess and heir to the French throne, while Sophia is born into a life of poverty and abuse at the hands of her father. At the age of 18, Sophia runs away from home. That same night, Isabella is also fleeing from the burden of her royal life when she finds Sophia slumped at the palace gates. Amazed by how alike they look, Isabella proposes a daring plot - to exchange their lives for one week. 
‘The Pretender’ is an emotionally intense and compelling story of friendship, love and the strange power of destiny.

French Village Diaries book review The Pretender Katie Ward
The Pretender Blog Tour


My Review

I thought bringing back the French royal family, giving them a history, traditions and the palace in Fontainebleau, but setting it in the modern day was great fun and putting myself into a teenager’s head, I loved the idea of this book. Isabella, the princess who doesn’t want to be Queen, but just wants the freedom to explore Paris as a normal 18-year-old. Sophia, the pauper who suddenly finds herself a princess, living with a King and a Queen, totally unaware of life inside the palace, but safe for now from her father. 
Isabella is the instigator of the switch and the one with who holds the key to return but having waited all her life for the freedom of anonymity, will she find what she wants in just one week. For Sophia, living under the scrutiny of strangers, who are supposed to be your family, is not as easy as she thought, but her determination to not let Isabella down showed her resourcefulness. 
As their adventures continue, the naivety of their decision becomes apparent, followed by the reality of what they have done, and then the panic when the situation changes. It’s no longer a game, life becomes serious and events seem to be spiralling out of their control. 

This is a good fun read, that sensitively covers some important issues as well as highlighting the fact our actions have consequences, but does it have a real fairy tale “and they all lived happily ever after” ending? Well, you’ll just have to read it to find out. 



Author Bio

Katie Ward always knew she wanted to write for a living. However, she was told by her careers advisor that “it might be more appropriate for you to work in a shop”. When Katie didn’t get the grades she needed to get into college, she negotiated a three month trial. After successfully completing the course she secured a place at her first choice university to study Journalism. 
After realising she wanted to be an author, Katie moved to Dublin where she worked her way up from receptionist to Executive Assistant at Merrill Lynch. Katie continued to write in her spare time, submitting her short story into the “Do the Write Thing” competition being run by Irish TV show ‘Seoige and O’Shea’. This story was originally written when Katie was 14 after she was inspired by an article in her favourite teen magazine. Katie was the only non-Irish author selected to have her story published in an anthology of the same name which reached 19 in the Irish Best sellers List. Katie was also shortlisted for a competition judged by MAN Booker Prize winning author Roddy Doyle which was run by Metro Eireann newspaper. 
Katie currently lives in Devon with her cat (aka ‘Her Royal Fluffiness’) where she sings in a community choir and has recently taken up Archery. Katie’s favourite author has been Roald Dahl since she was a child as she loves the dark edge he brings to his books. On the flip side though, Katie loves Disney, magic, unicorns and a good rom com film at the cinema with her friends.


You can find Katie at her website here and follow her on Twitter and Facebook.


French Village Diaries book review The Pretender Katie Ward
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Sunday, August 26, 2018

Lazy Sunday in France with author Serena Kent

French Village Diaries #LazySundayinFrance Death in Provence Serena Kent
Death in Provence by Serena Kent
Welcome to another #LazySundayinFrance and today I am delighted to have author Serena Kent giving us a little bit more from her Death in Provence character Penelope Kite. You can read my review of Death in Provence, that is available in ebook and paperback format, here.

PENELOPE KITE’S LAZY SUNDAY
By Serena Kent, author of cozy mystery Death in Provence
Our accidental sleuth Penelope Kite loves Sunday mornings in Provence. Even though she no longer works nine-to-five as assistant to an eminent forensic pathologist, she still savours that delicious Sunday feeling of waking with no pressing need to leave a soft bed when the sun slants through the open shutters. No family to prepare lunch for, no housework, just lovely croissants for breakfast on the sunny terrace of Le Chant d’Eau, her recklessly purchased old farmhouse with views of the Luberon valley.
Cello practice (what bliss to be able to play again, letting the notes rise into the open air, disturbing no one) is followed by a quick swim in the pool. The pool looks glorious in the walled garden now, with lavender lining the walls and four sentinel cypress trees. Fortunately, there is no dead body floating in it today. 
The sun is already hot as she prepares to go out tat-hunting at a classic Provençal brocante. Penelope loves nothing more than wandering around stalls which are selling everything from dented old oil lamps to chests of drawers, spotting pieces to up-cycle. In mid-August there is always an especially fine brocante at Beaumettes. She arrives to find crowds, streets lined with vendors and a great deal of temptation. A glass of rosé perhaps, to get in the mood? Probably shouldn’t. Don’t want to wander round half cut and buy too much rubbish.
In the end, Penelope manages to resist the battered old tuba – she has a vision of hanging it from a tree as a curio in a surreal garden she could create – and comes away with two large lanterns and a set of colourful bowls, all for…well, slightly more than she anticipated paying. 
French Village Diaries #LazySundayinFrance Death in Provence Serena Kent
Bonnieux ©SerenaKent2018
And then it’s lunchtime! The glorious hilltop village of Bonnieux is on her way back, so it makes sense to stop there. She’s on her own, but this has never bothered Penelope. Back in England, before her divorce, the family took her for granted dreadfully; now she positively relishes having time to herself. Besides, she has new friends arriving at home in St Merlot later for an apéro.
At Bonnieux the landscape is all orchards and olives and vineyards and the blue Ventoux hills opposite. From the top, Penelope always looks out towards the neighbouring village of Lacoste, where the ruins of the Marquis de Sade’s castle once stood in jagged mockery of Bonnieux’s proud churches. There’s a little bar-café she knows with friendly service and beautiful views. 
French Village Diaries #LazySundayinFrance Death in Provence Serena Kent
Chateau de Mille ©SerenaKent2018
On the way back, after a delicious goats cheese and fig salad and a single glass of her favourite pale rosé, she takes the Route de Bonnieux to the Château de Mille, the oldest winery in the Luberon – it is mentioned in archives in Avignon in 1238. It opens at 2pm on a summer Sunday, and Penelope knows exactly what she wants: a case of their Rosé de Léo. 
A few lazy hours in the garden beckon, with a book and a good strong cup of British tea. Then, at 5.30pm it’s time to make some canapés – tapenade and caviar d’aubergines on thin, toasted slices of stale baguette – to have with chilled glasses of the rosé. Her great friend and sleuthing companion, the glamorous Clémence Valencourt will be arriving shortly. It is easy to tell when she arrives, as the red mini she drives at high speed sprays gravel all down the track, and the clickety-click of her high heels on the stone flags is instantly recognisable. She is still without her mysterious husband who seems to spend a lot of time in Paris. But that doesn’t bother her. It is odd how she and Laurent Millais, the drop-dead gorgeous Mayor of St Merlot, always seem to arrive together on Sundays. But maybe Penelope’s being over suspicious.
French Village Diaries #LazySundayinFrance Death in Provence Serena Kent
Lavender fields in Provence ©SerenaKent2018
In the end, Clémence and Laurent arrive separately but within minutes of each other. A jolly interlude of high-quality local gossip ensues, as they sit on the terrace. The heavenly aroma of lavender wafts from the fields owned by Penelope’s neighbour. 
Later that evening, alone again, Penelope puts a recording of Fauré’s Nocturnes on the CD player and gazes out over her French domaine, feeling glad she has dared to make a new life for herself here, wondering what tomorrow will bring – so long as it’s not another dead body.  
©SerenaKent2018
Death in Provence is out now in ebook format and paperback. Links to Amazon can be found below.
French Village Diaries #LazySundayinFrance Death in Provence Serena Kent
Serena Kent ©SerenaKent2018
Serena Kent is the author name of husband and wife writing duo, Deborah Lawrenson and Robert Rees. You can read more about Serena at her website here and follow her posts on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.