|Biarritz, Pays Basque|
In the first book in this fabulous trilogy, Biarritz Passion, as well as sisters Caroline and Annabel, we meet an extended family who reunite every summer in the holiday home originally owned by their grandparents, the Villa Julia in Biarritz. It is a place where four cousins, living different lives in different countries all come together for a close-knit family summer in the Pays Basque. In this first book, (read my full review here) what stood out for me most was the emotions that ran throughout the novel and the sense of place; it really does open up the magic of the Pays Basque to the reader.
Book two in the series, Hot Basque, is set during the following summer and adds to our character list when Caroline’s friend Jill joins them at the Villa and spends most of her holiday touring with Edward’s friend Antoine, learning about the area, the people (and love) and taking us along for the sightseeing ride. It is another book with fire and passion aplenty. There is more emotional blackmail from Caroline’s sister Annabel, and more drama and hurt for Caroline, but this year she is not alone. She has Edward, and with his love and his family tightly packed around her, Annabel’s shocking behavior is easier for her to cope with. Caroline has become one of them now, and Villa Julia has become a place that is very special to her too.
Villa Julia, the third and final book in the series takes place later in the same year as book two, when the family gather for a late summer celebration for the 60th birthdays of twins Julie and Anouk, mainly organised by Caroline and Edward from their flat in Toulouse (another great French location we get to discover more about). In this book it is Edward’s cousin Claudie and her new man Pete who get a good slice of the action. Pete is a top London chef, in charge of the birthday cake, and accompanied on his first visit to the Villa by his mother, the formidable Hibiscus, or Hibby for short. Things between Claudie and Hibby get off to an hilariously bad start and it would be true to say Claudie’s Basque spirit meets its match in Hibby.
Once the birthday party is done, it’s full swing into preparing for Caroline and Edward’s spring wedding, keeping tabs on Annabel and following the developments of Jill and Antoine as their life takes on a new and unexpected direction.
Like in the previous books there is no shortage of drama and short-fuses in this final novel and the fire and passion I fell in love with in book one is still burning brightly here. I was sad to get to the end and realise there will be no more, but it was great being back and I was left with a nice feeling of contentment at seeing each couple’s stories through to a conclusion.
Although I had this on my kindle before book three, I didn’t read it until I’d finished the trilogy! This meant that around half way through book three I found myself in a new location, with new characters and a feeling like I’d been dropped into a different book. However, I quite enjoyed the mystery and sense of adventure this gave me, and I soon worked out where it was taking me. Reading the prequal certainly expanded on Caroline and Annabel’s early years.
This series gives you everything Basque; the scenery, the local festivals, the food and a real sense of place. It also gives you passion, emotions, love and drama. For someone who has been lucky enough to visit the Basque a few times, these books take me right back, so if you can’t get to Biarritz or the Pays Basque, you will at least feel like you’ve experienced a short break just by reading them.
What next Laurette?
Here are a few of my previous posts about the Pays Basque you might like: