Thursday, January 28, 2021

I'd rather lockdown than limbo

French Village Diaries rather lockdown than limbo
Sunrise over the garden at the beginning of the week


I’d rather lockdown than limbo

I could hear the wind and rain this morning before I’d opened my eyes, and just like that, the spectacular sunrises we’d woken to a few days ago were gone and all was dark, damp and gloomy. The grey skies mirror my mood as we find ourselves in a whirl of media speculation, stuck in limbo, awaiting news of lockdown. 

 

Last Sunday, the French media suggested President Macron would be speaking this week, with a high possibility of confinement mark three being imminent. By Tuesday we were told there would be no announcement just yet, he was doing all he could to avoid another lockdown and would wait until the impact of the nationwide 18h curfew had been analysed. 

 

Tuesday’s local news taught me a new French word with the headline “Hécatombe” which means to massacre a large number of people (or animals) and was used to report the sixty-four Covid-19 deaths in the Deux-Sèvres last week. It may not seem that high a number, but it brings the total deaths in our rural department to three hundred and is up from thirty-three in the previous week. I found this increase in numbers shocking and even allowing for the fact that two care homes in the department have been devastated by the virus, if a similar picture is mirrored across France, I can’t help feeling Macron is just delaying the inevitable and in doing so, extending the limbo. 

 

This week in the UK, the news is no less grim as it has now recorded over 100,000 Covid-19 deaths and is the first country in Europe to reach this level. I’m not even reassured by the vaccine programme any more as the current shortage in supplies seems to be creating the perfect storm (in the media at least) for a vaccine war between the UK and the EU. I’m struggling to understand the hostility at a time when working together should be the priority.

 

In other news reports there were riots in Holland as people protested about the measures put into place to protect them and in Nice a restaurant opened its doors and served around fifty people. I appreciate restaurants, cafés and bars have been hit hard, having been closed since the end of October, but I still can’t understand this behaviour. 

 

I think I’ve reached that point when I need to stop reading the news, but as I write this the French health minister is holding a press conference. It is apparent that the curfew hasn’t achieved what they wanted and stricter measures will be necessary. Will there be a full lockdown, like we had last March, or a softer one, like in November? Will the schools all close for an extended winter holiday in February? All these have been suggested in the media, but still we are in limbo as we await the official announcement.

 

It is difficult to stay positive with the uncertainty of this and other things going on at the moment, but thankfully I’ve got yoga and cycling, plus the last of the Christmas brownies that I found in the freezer. A combination of all three, taken daily, seems to be helping. We have now managed to get out on the bikes every day since 29th December, for at least ten kilometres per day, even on wet days like today. That is almost five hundred kilometres of fresh air, exercise and therapy, and that is priceless.  

Friday, January 22, 2021

Book review of The Little Swiss Ski Chalet by Julie Caplin

French Village Diaries book review The Little Swiss Ski Chalet Julie Caplin
The Little Swiss Ski Chalet by Julie Caplin


The Little Swiss Ski Chalet

It’s time to pack your bags and head to the breathtaking, snow-covered peaks of the Swiss Alps for velvety hot chocolates, delicious cheeses and a gorgeous love story…

Food technician Mina has always believed that chocolate will solve everything – and it’s just what she needs when her latest relationship mishap goes viral!

So with her bags packed and a new determination to sort her life out, Mina decides to drown her sorrows with the best hot chocolate in the world at her godmother’s cosy Swiss chalet. Chocolate: yes. Romance: no. Until she has a run in on an Alpine train with a mysterious but oh-so-gorgeous stranger…


 

French Village Diaries book review The Little Swiss Ski Chalet Julie Caplin
The Little Swiss Ski Chalet Julie Caplin


My Review

I almost turned this book down, as its location is the wrong side of the Alps, but the mention of chocolate in the description tempted me too much. Wow! All I can say is this is one of those times when I’m glad I gave way to temptation. It is a deliciously heart-warming book that I devoured like a box of my favourite chocolates. It comforted and cossetted me, sending waves of pleasure, just like when you take that first bite of soft-centred chocolate and the different flavours and textures create fireworks from your mouth to your brain and beyond.

Mina had my heart from the disastrous party, that saw her pack her bags for her godmother’s chalet in Switzerland, leaving sleazy Simon for dust. She hopes a few weeks staying with Amelie will help her decide what she wants to do with her future. What she discovers fills her heart, as she witnesses Amelie’s attention to detail with her guests, but also fills her head with ideas of her own. 

Luke was adorable, with many hidden surprises, but although he believes in the serendipity that caused their paths to cross, he has plans that might not fit with Mina’s newfound passion and direction. The chemistry between Mina and Luke melted every part of me and for someone who vowed never to return to the ski slopes, this book almost had me yearning for a cross-country ski adventure of my own. 

What a treat for all the senses this book was. A stunning location, characters who felt like friends, love, chocolate and lots of cake, what more do you need to pull you out of the winter blues?

 

Purchase Links 



http://amzn.to/3jU2lKy 🌎 http://mybook.to/SwissSkiChalet

 

French Village Diaries book review The Little Swiss Ski Chalet Julie Caplin
Julie Caplin


Author Bio 

Julie Caplin, formerly a PR director, swanned around Europe for many years taking top food and drink writers on press trips (junkets) sampling the gastronomic delights of various cities in Italy, France, Belgium, Spain, Copenhagen and Switzerland. It was a tough job but someone had to do it. 

These trips have provided the inspiration and settings for her Romantic Escapes series which have been translated into fifteen different languages.

The first book in the seven strong series, The Little Café in Copenhagen, was shortlisted for a Romantic Novel of the Year Award.

 

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French Village Diaries book review The Little Swiss Ski Chalet Julie Caplin
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Book reviews French Village Diaries
Book reviews French Village Diaries

Thursday, January 21, 2021

Looking back a year

French Village Diaries looking back a year
January 2020, fun and laughter in the village bar


We often like to look back in our photo library to see what we were doing a year ago, two years ago etc, and comparing life and the weather to today. A look back to just last year and it is difficult to believe how different life was then. My diary shows village meetings where galette des rois would have been shared as we all wished each other a happy, healthy and prosperous new year. Ed was in Poitiers and Adrian was busy travelling back and forth between here and the UK, but still managed to be around for a riotous fortnight of socialising. 

 

On Friday 17th we apero’d with friends in their garden, laughing and having fun as we tried out our new hula hoops, that we were convinced were the latest thing in exercise and fitness. Then we were off to the salle des fêtes for the annual council and village employee’s meal, a huge seafood spread, and our last council perk before the end of our six-year term of office. On Wednesday 22nd there was a live music night at the village bar, followed two days later by our sing-along Grease movie night, which rolled seamlessly into the bar’s monthly vide frigo (empty the fridge buffet night) on Saturday 25th. We then finished January off in style with our final Bollox to Brexit fish and chip soirée on 31st.

 

Hugs and kisses were given and received in abandon. Glasses were raised, meals were shared with friends, laughter rang out and we usually ended up singing. No one owned a mask. Today, we are living under a curfew that means no leaving home after six o’clock in the evening. There are no apéros with friends, no shared meals and as the village bar closed its doors for good last autumn, no events to attend. Even the meetings I’d normally look forward to, have lost their enjoyment thanks to the barrier of the masks, the social distancing and the fear of contamination. There is a real feeling of having retreated from village life into my own little family bubble where I’m happy knowing we are all safe and together, but I also know the longer this goes on, the more difficult it will be to get back out there.

 

Tonight, at nine o’clock, for a number nerd like me, will be quite a significant time, being 21h on the 21st day, of the first month, of the 21st year, of the 21st century. I’m not sure what message the universe will send, but it’s definitely been a wild and windy day today. We will certainly be taking a moment, raising our glasses to mark it, and hoping it brings positive vibes. 



Monday, January 18, 2021

Book review of L'Origine by Lilianne Milgrom

 

French Village Diaries book review L'Origine by Lilianne Milgrom
L'Origine by Lilianne Milgrom


L’Origine: The Secret Life Of The World’s Most Erotic Masterpiece by Lilianne Milgrom

(historical fiction) Release date: July 28, 2020 at Little French Girl Press 255 pages

2020 Indie B.R.A.G. Medallion Award

***

Buy It Here

Amazon | Bookshop

*** See the book on Goodreads


SYNOPSIS

L’Origine‘ traces the extraordinary, clandestine odyssey of an iconic 19th century painting that shook up the author’s world and continues to scandalize all who set eyes upon it. Gustave Courbet’s portrait of a woman’s exposed torso and sex – audaciously entitled ‘L’Origine du monde’ (The Origin of the World) – was so shocking it was kept hidden for a century and a half, surviving revolution, Nazi plunder and the foibles of its eccentric owners. Today it draws millions of visitors to Paris’ Orsay Museum. Lilianne Milgrom brings a fresh, feminine perspective to an iconic work of art created specifically for the male gaze. ‘L’Origine‘ offers readers more than a riveting romp through history–it also reflects society’s complex attitude towards female nudity.
NB: this is a historical novel, no explicit scenes

MY REVIEW

The first part of this book is the personal journey of the author, an artist from Washington, who having reached the status of ‘woman of a certain age’, making her acutely aware of the aging process, feels she needs to do something about it. With her husband often working away from home and their children now adults, she runs to Paris, to paint. It is only when she arrives, and takes a look around the Musée d’Orsay, that she realises what it is she is going to paint; Gustave Courbet’s L’Origine du Monde. 

 

I’m no art expert, so I had to look it up, and can appreciate that in its day (1866) its explicitness of the female form, wouldn’t have been for all eyes. From her daily visits to the museum, in her new role as official copyist of this piece, Lilianne, studies its every brush stroke as she attempts to reproduce her own version, often under the scrutiny of the visiting public. She feels the power of the painting as she watches the varying reactions it produces and arrives at the end of her six weeks a different person.

 

The second part of the book is a work of historical fiction that adds the backstory from first sketch to finished work, and then from art lover, dealer and collector, as L’Origine quietly makes its almost secret journey. Lilianne takes us back to Courbet’s studio, his muse, his lovers and his life dedicated to pushing rules and boundaries. It is known that the first owner of this privately commissioned piece was a Turkish/Egyptian diplomat called Khalil-Bey, who spent his time in Paris during the 1860’s collecting fine art and gambling his family fortunes away, but it’s journey during the 20th Century is less well-known. Lilianne has done her research to uncover its owners and their secrets up to when it was acquired by the Musée d’Orsay in 1995. 

 

As Lilianne cleverly dips in and out of European history, culture and the troubled periods, we follow those involved and get to rub shoulders with famous names in art and literature whose paths crossed with the painting or its many owners. We see the power it has over relationships and the trouble it causes, but also the pleasure it brings too. 


Her passion for this piece and its story soon had me fascinated, even though it was a work of art that I’d not previously heard of. I was intrigued by its owners, their society lifestyles and the changing attitudes to the painting. 


This book certainly paints a colourful picture of a special work of art and opened my eyes to periods of art, history and culture I was unaware of.



French Village Diaries book review L'Origine by Lilianne Milgrom
Lilianne Milgrom

 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Lilianne Milgrom Paris-born Lilianne Milgrom is an award-winning international artist, writer on the arts and author. Her art can be found in both private and institutional collections around the world and her articles have been published in Huffington Post, Daily Art Magazine, Ceramics Now and Bonjour Paris. Her 5-star, bestselling novel ‘L’Origine‘ is the result of ten years of research and was accepted into the Historical Novel Society. Lilianne lives in Washington DC with her husband. Follow the author on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram Join her mailing list

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Thursday, January 14, 2021

Book review of One Summer in Monte Carlo by Jennifer Bohnet

French Village Diaries book review One Summer in Monte Carlo Jennifer Bohnet
One Summer in Monte Carlo by Jennifer Bohnet


One Summer in Monte Carlo

Monte Carlo means different things to different people; a billionaires playground, overflowing with glitz and glamour but also where dangerous secrets hide.

For Nanette Weston, and her then fiancé, F1 racing driver Zac Ewart, their dream life came to an abrupt halt 3 years ago following a car accident which Zac walked away from, but left Nanette being airlifted back to the UK, never to return and never to see her fiancé again.

Monte Carlo was a place she wanted to forget, not revisit. But when her friend and employer, Vanessa asks Nanette to look after her children in the Principality for a few months, Nanette knew she had no choice but to return.

As the F1 circus once again comes to town, with Zac in pole position, mistakes of the past, leave legacies for the future...

This book was previously published as Follow Your Star by Jennifer Bohnet.


 

French Village Diaries book review One Summer in Monte Carlo Jennifer Bohnet
One Summer in Monte Carlo Jennifer Bohnet


My review

One Summer in Monte Carlo is a book with a real mix of different characters, all with their own story lines, and all entwined around the wealthy lifestyle of those lucky enough to live in Monaco. There are apartments with balconies and harbour side views, fine dining in the hills above Nice and the roar of Formula 1 that comes crashing into daily life, but there is also a secret from the past that seemed to have been forgotten. 

 

As the PA and fiancée of racing driver Zac Ewart, Nanette was once part of the F1 social scene. She organised parties on his yacht and attended events on his arm, until the car accident three years ago, that she can’t remember, left her ostracised and alone. Monte Carlo, Zac and the privileged lifestyle were firmly in her past, until her best friend Vanessa asks her a huge favour. Her decision to return for one summer, and face those who hurt her, might be just what she needs to help free her from the past, but it could open up opportunities for her future too.

 

There is more to this book than the glitz and the glamour of its Monte Carlo location, it also shows the importance of family, friendship and being there for the ones you love. 


Nanette discovers Monaco has changed and with the new faces it seems there are also dirty deals being done that have far reaching consequences. Who is involved and how risky it is, will be something else for her to work out as she attempts to move on with her future. This shady side of life in Monaco added suspense, tension and a few twists to the book. 

 

It is always exciting to be back in a Jennifer Bohnet book and although I’d read Follow Your Star, many years ago, I’ve really enjoyed reading this updated version. If the buzz of Formula 1 and the lifestyle of the rich and famous is where you want to be, if only on a short break, this book would be a perfect winter escape.

 

Purchase Link 



Amazon

  

French Village Diaries book review One Summer in Monte Carlo Jennifer Bohnet
Author Jennifer Bohnet


Author Bio  

Jennifer Bohnet is the bestselling author of over 14 women's fiction titles, including Villa of Sun and Secrets and A Riviera Retreat. She is originally from the West Country but now lives in the wilds of rural Brittany, France.

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French Village Diaries book review One Summer in Monte Carlo Jennifer Bohnet
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Wednesday, January 13, 2021

Hope and peace for 2021

French Village Diaries Hope and Peace for 2021
Looking forward to a new year


Hope and peace 

Hope and peace were my words for welcoming in 2021, but neither seem to be doing their bit to live up to my expectations just yet. We are two weeks into the new year and the world seems equally as mad and scary as it did in the run up to Christmas.

 

The situation in France

The French vaccination programme seemed to get off to slow start but after reading our local (Nouvelle Aquitaine) health authority’s recent press release, I am more reassured. The start of the vaccination programme, at the end of December, was only to obtain the consent from the residents of the care homes, to determine how many vaccine doses to order. Many residents have a legal guardian to handle all their affairs, so I guess it was quite a task to coordinate, especially over the New Year holiday period. It wasn’t until early January that vaccinations began to happen. To begin with it was for those in care homes only, but from tomorrow an online booking system will be opened up to anyone over 75, whether in a care home or not. Staff members at care homes, aged over fifty, are being vaccinated too, and a report out today claimed 200,000 people were vaccinated in France yesterday, so numbers here should soon begin to rise steadily.

 

The situation in UK

The UK has gone back into lockdown, mainly thanks to the new UK variant of Covid-19, that although not rampaging through France like it is in the south of England, has reached French shores. UK schools are closed once more, and exercise must be kept ‘local to home’; whatever that means seems to have caused a bit of media debate these last few days. During our lockdowns here, we knew exactly how far we could go as we were given a one kilometre from home radius, extended towards the end to a twenty-kilometre radius. It’s not rocket science Boris, just simple-to-follow rules. Our parents in the UK are still waiting to hear when they will get their vaccinations. Dad is over eighty, Mum over seventy-five and although Adrian’s mum is younger, she is still classed as a high-risk, and yet despite all of them living in a Tier 4 area, still they wait. 


 

French Village Diaries Hope and Peace for 2021
Our region's Covid-19 figures per 100,000 people.
We live in the top left bad pocket!


What next?

The French government were meeting this morning to determine what happens next for us. The main concerns are the effects of rising numbers following Christmas and New Year and the arrival of the English variant of Covid-19 on French soil. The press seems to think it unlikely, for now, that a new country-wide lockdown will be put in place, but it could be that the overnight curfew is brought forward to six o’clock for all of France. Our department, the Deux-Sèvres, isn’t fairing too well compared to neighbouring departments, and whatever happens nationwide, I wouldn’t be surprised if our curfew was brought forward to six o’clock in the evening, instead of eight. As it’s cold and dark before six, this really wouldn’t inconvenience our daily lives at all.

 

Ed got a brief taste of freedom last week in Poitiers, as there are certain practical parts of his course that can’t be done online, but he is back home with us now, waiting to discover what will happen for the final few months. Pearl is here for a few days too, and while I’d normally be happy my nest is full, the uncertainty of so many things at the moment are definitely putting a damper on my mood. The fact that it is January and the last few days have been cold and damp, probably hasn’t helped, but we are keeping up our daily bike ride, even if it’s just for a half an hour, ten-kilometre ride, close to home. 



French Village Diaries Hope and Peace for 2021
Raindrops keep falling on my head


It can be a struggle some days to get off the sofa and out the door, and it’s not easy to see where I’m going through my raindrop coated glasses, but it’s worth it and we’ve already clocked up over two hundred kilometres this year. I just can’t help feeling that we should have learned so much from the last year and yet we don’t seem to be any more prepared now than in early 2020 when Covid-19 was something from China, occasionally making the news. 


Hope and peace 2021, you know you can do it. 

Stay safe. 

Monday, January 11, 2021

Book review of Loving Modigliani by Linda Lappin

 

French Village Diaries book review Loving Modigliani by Linda Lappin
Loving Modigliani by Linda Lappin


Linda Lappin

on Tour January 7-20 with  

Loving Modigliani: The Afterlife Of Jeanne Hébuterne

(literary fiction/historical fiction/fantasy) Release date: December 15, 2020 at Serving House Books 343 pages Goodreads

Buy It Here: Amazon


SYNOPSIS

Amedeo Modigliani, embittered and unrecognized genius, dies of meningitis on a cold January day in Montparnasse in 1920. Jeanne Hébuterne, his young wife and muse, follows 48 hours later, falling backwards through a window. Now a ghost, Jeanne drifts about the studio she shared with Modigliani—for she was not only his favorite model, but also an artist whose works were later shut away from public view after her demise. Enraged, she watches as her belongings are removed from the studio and her identity as an artist seemingly effaced for posterity, carried off in a suitcase by her brother. She then sets off to rejoin Modigliani in the underworld. Thus begins Loving Modigliani, retelling the story of Jeanne Hébuterne’s fate as a woman and an artist through three timelines and three precious objects stolen from the studio: a notebook, a bangle, and a self-portrait of Jeanne depicted together with Modi and their daughter. Decades later, a young art history student will discover Jeanne’s diary and rescue her artwork from oblivion, after a search leading from Paris to Nice, Rome, and Venice, where Jeanne’s own quest will find its joyful reward.






MY REVIEW

We are with nineteen-year-old Jeanne Hébuterne as she falls to her death, just days after her lover, the artist Modigliani, dies. It is a brutal death and together with her trapped spirit we witness the horror on her family’s faces as they see her crumpled, broken body in the courtyard of their Parisian apartment. 

 

As Jeanne comes to terms with what she has done, we are with her as she takes her first steps in the afterlife, desperate to do all she can to be reunited with her beloved Modi. With the help of unexpected new friends, she travels through portals that take her between a seemingly parallel Paris for the dead, the underworld, and even give her a glimpse into the future she missed. Death for Jeanne is like a dream where you never quite seem to get where you need to be, and where increasingly bizarre situations crop up to delay your progress. 

 

This is a book of many parts, each one as intriguing as the other. No sooner had I got settled into the afterlife, when we are transported back to Paris, in the 1980’s, where an art student writing her thesis is introduced to a mysterious elderly lady. Annie is one of the last people alive to have met Modi and Jeanne, but time is running out for her and she has secrets she needs to share, before it is too late.

 

When Jeanne’s diaries turn up unexpectedly, decades after her death, the next part of this book takes us back into Montparnasse and the Parisian art scene during the First World War. The parties, the deceit, the poverty, the passion. We follow the young Jeanne as she begins to break away from the safety of her bourgeois family and find her independence with the artists she so admires.

 

Each different part of this book captivated me and swept me up in the mystery of Jeanne’s life, and the final part, which was probably the most unexpected, brought everything together just perfectly and left me with a smile on my face.

 

With Jeanne’s life and death being such an enigma, this isn’t the first fiction book I have read about her, and it certainly left me wanting to know more about Jeanne, Modi, his art, and their daughter. I couldn’t have picked a better book to begin a new year of reading. 

 


French Village Diaries book review Loving Modigliani by Linda Lappin
Linda Lappin

ABOUT THE AUTHOR


Linda Lappin has published four novels: The Etruscan (Wynkin de Worde, 2004); Katherine’s Wish, dealing with the life of Katherine Mansfield (Wordcraft, 2008), shortlisted for Foreward Book of the Year and iPPY gold medal winner in historical fiction; Signatures in Stone: A Bomarzo Mystery, winner of the Daphne DuMaurier Award from RWA for the best mystery novel of 2013; and Loving Modigliani: The Afterlife of Jeanne Hébuterne. She is also the author of The Soul of Place: Ideas and Exercises for Conjuring the Genius Loci, winner in 2015 of the gold medal in creativity in the Nautilus Book Awards. She lives in Rome. Visit the author’s website and her blog. Follow the author on Facebook, and Twitter Join her mailing list
***

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Friday, January 8, 2021

Book review of The Chalet by Catherine Cooper

French Village Diaries book review The Chalet by Catherine Cooper
The Chalet by Catherine Cooper
Published by Harper Collins 31 October 2020


My review today is for The Chalet by Catherine Cooper, a crime thriller set in a luxury chalet in the French Alps. 


In one day, lives were changed forever, but who really knows the truth and who is out for revenge?

 

I’ll be the first to admit I am normally more of a rom-com kind of reader, but I must have a dark side too as death, murder, deceit and all sorts of other nasties in this book had me hooked.

 

In the late 1990’s, two brothers and their girlfriends are on a ski holiday together. There is tension and rivalry between the brothers and following an afternoon of off-piste skiing, only one brother returns to the chalet. The events from this holiday change the lives of those involved forever. Some move on, seemingly putting the tragedy to the back of their minds, some never stop looking over their shoulder and some are ruined, completely. 

 

In another chalet, twenty years later, two couples become snowed in while events spiral out of control around them. They are all very different characters, some I warmed to, some I did not, but they all do their best to hide their pasts and their real reasons for being where they are just now. 

 

The mixture of timelines, different stories and emotionally charged situations, cleverly woven throughout the book, kept me guessing as to who was linked back to the fated family ski holiday, and what part they had played in the tragedy. Some of the topics covered were brutal, but there was humour too, especially for those (like me) who have given skiing a try but were never born to be naturals. I loved following Louisa’s first days on the slopes with her boyfriend, as it brought back so many memories of my first skiing trip, coincidently, also in the late 1990’s.

 

This very quickly became a book that was difficult to put down as I did my best to second guess who was guilty, while waiting for the plot to fall into place. I loved it more than I was expecting and now that winter has arrived, I can recommend you cosy yourself up in your favourite reading corner and while away your time, virtually snowed in at a luxury chalet in the French Alps.

 

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Tuesday, January 5, 2021

Book review of An American in Paris by Siobhan Curham

French Village Diaries book review An American in Paris by Siobhan Curham Bookouture #booksontour
An American in Paris by Siobhan Curham #booksontour


An American in Paris by Siobhan Curham

Paris, 1940: Walking through Montmartre that morning was like the eerie calm right before a storm. The roads were deserted. We carried on, arm in arm, and then finally, we saw them. Columns and columns of soldiers, spreading through the streets like a toxic grey vapour. ‘You must write about this,’ he whispered to me. ‘You must write about the day freedom left Paris.’

As Nazi troops occupy the City of Lights, American journalist Florence is determined to do everything she can to save her adopted home and the man she loves.

Florence had arrived in Paris in 1937 and on a beautiful summer’s day, met and fell in love with Otto, a Jewish artist from Austria, who had fled persecution in his homeland. But as swastikas are draped along the city’s wide boulevards, everything Otto was running from seems to have caught up with him.

Both Florence and Otto begin lending their talents to the Resistance, working to sabotage the Germans right under their noses. Florence’s society columns that, before the war were filled with tales of glamorous Parisian parties, now document life under occupation and hide coded messages for those fighting outside France for freedom. While Otto risks arrest in order to pin up the anti-Nazi posters he designs by candlelight in their tiny apartment.

But with every passing day, things become more dangerous for Otto to remain in Paris. If Florence risks everything by accepting a secret mission, can she ensure his survival so that they can be reunited once the war is over?

A sweeping wartime story that will capture your heart and never let it go. Fans of The Alice NetworkThe Lost Girls of Paris and My Name is Eva will be absolutely gripped from the very first page.  

 

French Village Diaries book review An American in Paris by Siobhan Curham Bookouture #booksontour
An American in Paris 
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My review

Florence and Otto’s love story is heart-warming and heart breaking, but it was her determination, inner strength and ability to survive, even when at her emotionally lowest, that had me hooked. From her solo voyage across the Atlantic, to creating a life for herself in Paris and doing all she could, despite the dangers, to resist the Nazis, Florence was an inspiration. I feared for Otto from the start, a Jew and an immigrant, arriving in Paris at the right time to meet Florence, but at completely the wrong time historically, but the bond between them was poetic and beautiful.

 

This is not just a gripping wartime drama that will have your heart in your mouth as you read about Florence’s extraordinary life, it is also a book with a second storyline, in a separate time period, that I was equally captivated with. We meet Sage, Instagram influencer who has lost her way and her creative zing, her life ruled by the brands who pay her and the followers who worship her. Sage has it all; the income, the lifestyle and access to the events that matter, but she is not happy. One night her emotions (and alcohol) take over and she posts an honest video that causes a backlash of social media outrage and hatred directed at her, highlighting everything that is wrong, and anti-social, about social media. It is when she is at her lowest that a stranger from America gets in touch. Sam offers Sage a calm place to recover, answers to questions from her past and an opportunity to move forward for her future.

 

Sage and Florence were two very different women, but both of their journeys had me hoping for positive outcomes and happiness for characters I had come to care about. There was something refreshingly different about this book that really connected with me emotionally.

 

If you are looking for a New Year read that perfectly entwines the past and the present, with strong characters, passion and emotion, then An American in Paris will give you this and more.

 

Purchase Links 



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French Village Diaries book review An American in Paris by Siobhan Curham Bookouture #booksontour
Siobhan Curham


Author bio

 

Siobhan Curham is an award-winning author, ghost writer, editor and writing coach. She has also written for many newspapers, magazines and websites, including The Guardian, Breathe magazine, Cosmopolitan, Writers’ Forum, DatingAdvice.com, and Spirit & Destiny. Siobhan has been a guest on various radio and TV shows, including Woman’s Hour, BBC News, GMTV and BBC Breakfast. And she has spoken at businesses, schools, universities and literary festivals around the world, including the BBC, Hay Festival, Cheltenham Festival, Bath Festival, Ilkley Festival, London Book Fair and Sharjah Reading Festival. 

 

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French Village Diaries book reviews
French Village Diaries book reviews