Wednesday, August 8, 2012

L'Auberge by Julia Stagg


I find myself in a pleasing predicament of having lots of books waiting to be read, thanks to some generous authors who write my kind of books (on France) and also the recent local book sale I ran amok in.  I love reading, always have done, but at the moment there is so much to do outside I feel I am letting my books down.  Maybe I should set aside some quality time on a squishy cushion, under a shady tree, and make a date with a book.

I have just finished reading L'Auberge by Julia Stagg.  L’Auberge is set in the small commune of Fogas in the Pyrenees where life is thrown into turmoil when an English couple arrive to take over the Auberge.  I instantly felt at home in Fogas, where village life seemed so familiar to our little village, especially as they too have the ever present divide in village politics with power hungry would be mayors!  It is obvious that Julia has lived in and experienced French village life first hand; you really couldn’t make up some of the things that happen and I was pleased to see Johnny Hallyday made a guest appearance too - no village knees-up would be complete without him.  The book has so many lovely characters whose lives are all entwined, both as the story is being told and from past events, which gives us lots of ‘will they won’t they’ moments.  

I laughed a lot, especially as English food was often the ‘joke’, but unless you have come across a real French person’s reaction to our cuisine you wouldn’t believe it.  I also cried at the end, and the last few chapters had me gripped not knowing which way things were going to swing – it was one of those books that made me stay up way too late at night, thanks Julia.

Anyone who has lived in a French village will understand and nod knowingly, anyone who thinks they would like to live (and work) in a French village should read it and learn from it.

Thankfully, Julia’s second novel The Parisian's Return also set in Fogas, starts immediately L’Auberge finishes.  See here for a preview.  I think Jacques was my favourite character in L’Auberge, and as he is central to life at the epicerie I can’t wait to find out what happens to him, and what life has in store for the other villagers.