|The Secret French Recipes of Sophie Valroux by Samantha Vérant|
My review today is for The Secret French Recipes of Sophie Valroux by Samantha Vérant.
This book starts on a high. The buzz of excitement and anticipation in the kitchen of a prestigious New York restaurant can be felt as the chefs await an important phone call. Then wham! In an instant it’s all taken away and Sophie sees her dream of being a Michelin recognised chef disintegrate around her. As her name is ruined, I felt the dull ache of pain in my chest at the injustice of what had happened to her. Sophie spirals into despair as she loses her way, both in life and in the kitchen, and the risk of turning into a broken woman, like her mother, suddenly seems very real.
A little bit of French magic can help to heal even the most broken of hearts and that is just what is offered to Sophie. Although it has been many years since she spent any time in France with her Grand-mere Odette, a telephone call to say Odette is not well, is enough for Sophie to pack her bags in New York and fly into Toulouse to be with her. She may have pushed her happy memories of summers in France to the back of her mind, since her mum died, but being back in the chateau and seeing familiar faces brings them alive once more, and she begins to realise what she has sacrificed to follow her dream.
In order to move forward, Sophie needs to understand more about the past and together with Odette, they slowly work through things that have been too difficult to voice for many years. Not everyone is happy with her sudden arrival, and it will take time and work to regain her confidence and prove her place in the chateau. With support from a few special people and the strength she has from Odette and her notebooks, Sophie tries her best to rebuild her life and her dreams.
There was a lot to keep me entertained in this book, including a great fun and sometimes quirky cast of characters. Sophie came to life through the emotionally charged moments, from the despair at the beginning to the understanding and acceptance that came with the family secrets revealing the missing pieces of her life. I found it easy to visualise the chateau, the markets and the streets of Toulouse, as well as the smells of the kitchen and the produce from the garden and vineyards, and as an added bonus there are recipes included for some of Sophie’s favourite dishes. The more I read, the more I was filled with hope that she would find herself and her home.
If you enjoy novels with strong characters, a sense of place and a little bit of French magic, you will love this one.
The great news is that the second book in this series, Sophie Valroux’s Paris Stars will be released in October this year. Links to Amazon can be found below.
Samantha Vérant has also published two memoirs about her extraordinary love affair with France and her Frenchman, and the kindle version of How to Make a French Family is currently reduced on Amazon.
Read my reviews here: