My review today is for a new release The French for Christmas by Fiona Valpy. First, I’ll let you into a little secret, I don’t really ‘do’ Christmas and I certainly never start thinking about it this early in the year. However, I was persuaded to get my Christmas jingle on when I had the chance to review Fiona’s latest novel.
I really enjoyed her first two books The French for Love and The French for Always so despite my scrooge-like demeanour for Christmas I was excited to head back to the Bordeaux vineyards where all three of her books have been set.
In this book we follow Evie at a difficult time; her marriage is failing, her husband is plastered all over the media as his TV career takes off and with Christmas and the first anniversary of the loss of their baby fast approaching she takes refuge in a small hamlet in France. Her plan is to avoid Christmas at all costs.
As suggested by the publisher, I poured a glass of red wine, curled up in a comfy chair and opened my kindle. What I hadn’t expected was to find myself crying before I’d finished my first glass and this wasn’t the only time this book made me cry, but they were good tears if you know what I mean.
The hamlet among the Bordeaux vines that Evie finds herself in is home to only three others, an older couple Mathieu and Eliane and the village doctor, Didier. Evie soon realises she isn’t the only one running away from heartache and little by little through the extended hands of friendship and a shared love of good food, hearts begin to heal and anger and depression to disappear.
As I’ve found in her previous novels Fiona’s writing brings rural France to life. Her knowledge of the changing of the seasons in the vineyards, the importance of the potager, especially for the older generations and local food customs and speciality dishes is spot on. The fact that good food eaten with family and friends plays a major part in this novel shows she knows her subject well. There were enough delicious descriptions to make my tummy rumble as I read.
All three of her novels are stand alone but linked somewhere in the story, a clever touch I really enjoy and that enables me to keep up to date with the characters I fell in love with in the earlier books. I was sad to finish this book and as before have been left wanting more from Fiona.
This is another great and emotional read with Christmas cheer, Christmas spirit and even a stable birth, and is definitely one to ask Santa for, especially as it's only £1.59 for the kindle edition. I think it is also worth noting that Fiona will be donating 10% of all royalties from this novel to Médicins Sans Frontières (Doctors without Borders). The French for Christmas is published by Bookouture, who kindly sent me a copy to read and review.