Tuesday, July 20, 2021

Book review of A Light in the Window by Marion Kummerow

French Village Diaries book review A Light in the Window Marion Kummerow books-on-tour
A Light in the Window by Marion Kummerow


A Light in the Window by Marion Kummerow

 

Margarete stumbles out of the bombed-out house, the dust settling around her like snow. Mistaking her for the dead officer’s daughter, a guard rushes over to gently ask her if she is all right and whether there’s anything he can do to help her. She glances down at where the hated yellow star had once been, and with barely a pause, she replies “Yes”.

Berlin, 1941: Margarete Rosenbaum is working as a housemaid for a senior Nazi officer when his house is bombed, leaving her the only survivor. But when she’s mistaken for his daughter in the aftermath of the blast, Margarete knows she can make a bid for freedom…

Issued with temporary papers—and with the freedom of not being seen as Jewish—a few hours are all she needs to escape to relative safety. That is, until her former employer’s son, SS officer Wilhelm Huber, tracks her down.

But strangely he doesn’t reveal her true identity right away. Instead he insists she comes and lives with him in Paris, and seems determined to keep her hidden. His only condition: she must continue to pretend to be his sister. Because whoever would suspect a Nazi girl of secretly being a Jew?

His plan seems impossible, and Margarete is terrified they might be found out, not to mention worried about what Wilhelm might want in return. But as the Nazis start rounding up Jews in Paris and the Résistance steps up its activities, putting everyone who opposes the regime in peril, she realizes staying hidden in plain sight may be her only chance of survival…

Can Margarete trust a Nazi officer with the only things she has left though… her safety, her life, even her heart?

A totally heartbreaking and unputdownable story about how far someone would go to save one life, that fans of The Tattooist of AuschwitzThe Nightingale and All the Light We Cannot See will adore.


 

French Village Diaries book review A Light in the Window Marion Kummerow books-on-tour
Bookouture Books-On-Tour A Light in the Window by Marion Kummerow


My review

Lies, power, money. 

Margarete’s snap decision to take the identity of the dead daughter of the family she worked for, is made purely for survival; her only chance to be a German girl, rather than a Jew. As the book unfolded and I fell into the challenges of her new life, it soon became apparent that it’s not just her story that is based on an intricate web of lies. Lies are told to escape, to deceive, to assert power over others and to gain financial reward. The longer the lies are lived, the more lies are needed to cover their tracks and to keep others from finding out the truth. Margarete is living a difficult and dangerous life as she and Wilhelm attempt to convince everyone, including his elder brother Reiner, that she is their sister, Annegret, and although she soon realises that a life built on lies is not an easy one, the alternative for her would be much worse.

 

I loved watching Margarete grow in confidence and become someone strong enough to make decisions for herself. I even developed a soft spot for Wilhelm as he battled with himself over his feelings for Margarete and his loyalty to his family and the Fatherland. 


This is a cleverly crafted story that stirs some strong emotions as the different beliefs of the Jews, the Nazis and the Resistance are played out.

 

This book really drew me in as I wondered how it would end and how long the deception could go on, without being discovered. It didn’t end how I expected it to, but the fact it was left poised for a sequel made me very happy indeed.

 

This would be a great summer read for those of you who enjoy historical fiction, set in France during the Occupation, but with a different twist.

 

Purchase Links 


 


Amazon 

Apple 

Kobo 

Google 

 


French Village Diaries book review A Light in the Window Marion Kummerow books-on-tour
Marion Kummerow


Author Bio 

Marion Kummerow was born and raised in Germany, before she set out to "discover the world" and lived in various countries. In 1999 she returned to Germany and settled down in Munich where she's now living with her family.

 

Inspired by the true story about her grandparents, who belonged to the German resistance and fought against the Nazi regime, she started writing historical fiction, set during World War II. Her books are filled with raw emotions, fierce loyalty and resilience. She loves to put her characters through the mangle, making them reach deep within to find the strength to face moral dilemma, take difficult decisions or fight for what is right. And she never forgets to include humour and undying love in her books, because ultimately love is what makes the world go round.

 

Social Media Links - you can follow Marion here:  

Website 

Facebook 

Instagram 

Twitter 

Friday, July 9, 2021

Book review of Vicki's Work of Heart by Rosie Dean

French Village Diaries book review Vicki's Work of Heart by Rosie Dean
Vicki's Work of Heart by Rosie Dean


Vicki’s Work of Heart by Rosie Dean

Stranded at the altar, knee-deep in her fiancé’s gambling debts, Vicki Marchant seizes her freedom and moves to France, to paint.
It’s her time. No man will get in the way of her ambition again.
She learns two things: some men are hard to resist, and her judgement of them is still on the dodgy side.


 

French Village Diaries book review Vicki's Work of Heart by Rosie Dean
Vicki's Work of Heart blog tour


My review

Before I start my review, I have an apology to make to the author. This book has sat neglected on my kindle for a long time, and when I started reading it for this blog tour, I knew before the end of the first chapter, that I’d been missing out on a gem of a read. Even more so when I realised it is set near Limoges, which isn’t far from where I live. I am sorry Rosie.

 

Vicki is likable from the beginning, when she has to put on a brave face and invite her wedding guests to feast and party, despite the fact there’s been no wedding, as there is no longer a groom on the scene. Once she’s cleared up his mess, her life can start again, in France, on her adult gap year. For the first time in too many years Vicki is giving herself the permission to do as she pleases and concentrate on her painting. Go Vicki. As she settles into her new home, as housemate who cooks, for vet Christophe, the landscapes and people she meets inspire her to put paint to canvass for the first time in years. As her confidence in her work grows, she allows herself to live, to enjoy and to discover. What an inspirational idea and what an uplifting read this book is.

 

Christophe piqued my interest from their first meeting, when he was late and obviously preoccupied with his own problems. I couldn’t wait to discover more about him, why his smile rarely meets his eyes and how their year living in the same house would pan out. The more I read, the more I had to read, and ultimately the more I smiled. As Vicki discovers, Christophe is a man of many surprises, with a complex extended family and eyes like molten chocolate (can you imagine anything better, I certainly can’t). He’s not the only man she meets, but I’ll leave you to discover the rest. 

 

I thoroughly lost myself in this book and it was a pleasure to do so. 


Vicki’s Work of Heart would be a great read for anyone looking for an escape this summer. 

 

Purchase Links  

 


Buy here  

 


French Village Diaries book review Vicki's Work of Heart by Rosie Dean
Rosie Dean


Author Bio 

Rosie Dean has been writing stories and plays since she was big enough to type. After studying ceramic design and gaining a ‘degree in crockery’ as the man in her life calls it, she became an Art & Pottery teacher. Seven years later, she moved into corporate world, writing training courses and marketing copy until the lure of being a full-time writer became irresistible. 

Her passion is to write entertaining love stories that can make a reader chuckle, laugh out loud or, occasionally, feel a lump in the throat. Most of all, she loves developing the characters who inhabit her stories – eccentricities and screwball scenarios pop up in all of her work. Some of these characters have four legs – because animals offer an interesting counterpoint to human dramas.

 

Vicki's story is close to Rosie's heart. Once an art teacher herself, and going through a difficult time, she would dream of escaping it all to paint. From these dreams, she wrote Vicki's Work of Heart.

 

Rosie lives on the Isle of Wight, and can see the sea from her writing den.

 

Social Media Links  

Website/blog 

Facebook     

Twitter 

Goodreads 

Amazon (Author Page)       

BookBub 

Pinterest 

Thursday, July 8, 2021

From the Writing Desk of Ian Moore

French Village Diaries From the Writing Desk of Ian Moore
Author Ian Moore book signing in Waterstones ©Ian Moore

From the writing desk, of Ian Moore

 

Welcome to the French Village Diaries interview feature, From the Writing Desk, where to coincide with the release of Death and Croissants (A Follet Valley Mystery), I am delighted to be (virtually) joining author Ian Moore at his writing desk in France.

 

A bit about Ian

Ian Moore is a stand-up comedian in the UK and a husband, father of three boys, farmhand and chutney-maker in France. He is a mod in both walks of life and most of his time is spent travelling grumpily between the two. He now also runs a B&B in the Loire Valley, from where he has written two memoirs, before turning his pen to fiction.

 

Your writing space

Ian, how important is your desk space to your writing? Is it tidy and well-organised or creatively cluttered? 

 

Ian: It’s a vital space which starts off very tidy and then through the process of writing gets ever more cluttered with post-it notes, unwashed mugs, empty packets of crisps and wine stains!

 

Does your desk have a view? If so, does this inspire you or distract you?

 

Ian: The view is amazing. I can see for miles over the Loire Valley, but the immediate view is of bickering goats, fusspot hens and the horse. It’s calming and stressful at the same time! I work in the morning usually, but the evening view when I’m planning the next day’s writing is so special in the summer. It faces west and if the weather is calm there’s a sunset and quite often hot-air balloons.

 

Do you prefer to work to a deadline, and if so, do you set yourself daily or weekly targets?

 

Ian: I absolutely need a deadline because it means discipline, and I don’t think I could write without that. Like I say, I work in the morning, and I set myself a minimum of 1000 – sometimes it takes an hour, sometimes it takes four!

 

Writing during Covid-19

As a stand-up comedian as well as a writer, the pandemic must have changed so many aspects of your life. Did the sudden lack of traveling give you more focus for your writing or did life in lockdown affect your motivation to write? 

 

Ian: It was actually the change I needed! Health means I can’t travel as much as I used to, and when I say health I mean physical and mental. Travelling is hard! It wasn’t just about motivation though, it was about opportunity. That and hiding in my office to give my wife and children a break.

 

Is there anything you have learned from the past twelve months that you will use in your future writing?

 

Ian: I think the main thing, and I love this, is that rural France can cope with anything. It already has, and will do so again.


 

French Village Diaries From the Writing Desk of Ian Moore
Death and Croissants by Ian Moore


Your latest release

Your latest novel, Death and Croissants (A Follet Valley Mystery) was released on 1st July, can you tell us a bit about the inspiration behind it?

 

Ian: Well, the main character is a middle-aged Englishman who runs a B&B in the Loire Valley. Obviously that was a stroke of inspirational genius and not based on anyone I know! I find running a B&B a bit mundane after 25 years of stand up comedy, so I would invent backstories about the guests… then it hit me! A B&B is the perfect centre for a changing set of characters, the Loire Valley is the perfect setting for a comedy romp. I don’t know why I didn’t think of it before!

 

I thought the characters in Death and Croissants were great fun, were any of them based on people you’ve met since moving to the Loire Valley? 

 

Ian: Not specifically, but there are composites of French character and English expat character in many of them. I adore French rural attitude to life, and I really wanted to capture that affectionately.

 

How would you normally celebrate the release of a new book, and will it be different this year?

 

Ian: Well, I’ve been in the UK for two weeks. I had a launch at The Comedy Store surrounded (safely) by friends, I’ve done over 20 signings in bookshops all over the country and I am – in truth – living my dream. Walking into Foyles on Charing Cross Road or Waterstones in Piccadilly and seeing your book on a stand, with glowing staff reviews is beyond my expectations. At some point, someone will pinch me and I’ll wake up!

 

Life outside of writing

What do you look forward to, when you’ve saved the document and switched off the computer, as your treat at the end of the writing day?

 

Ian: It depends how it’s gone. Sometimes you can be looking forward to the next session of writing, sometimes a pichet of rosé on the terrasse! Either way, clearing the head is important!

 

If I was headed to the Loire Valley for a short break, what do you recommend I include in my itinerary? 

 

Ian: The Chateau de Valençay. A superb architectural delight, wonderful gardens, a great restaurant, an animal park and… (deep breath)… links to the a bankrupt Scotsman swindler and the Panama canal, Napoleon, The Congress of Vienna and a hiding place for Louvre Museum treasures in WW2. Also, the birthplace of profiteroles!

 

Thank you for taking the time out of your writing day to let me join you at your writing desk. 


You can read my review of Death and Croissants here.

 

You can follow Ian on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram and sign up to his podcast series Mustn’t Grumble here. I’ve only recently got into podcasts, but have to say, I’m enjoying this one very much.

 

Ian also runs La Pause: Val de Loire chambre d’hôtes, a B&B in the Loire Valley. You can visit the website here. 

 

You can read my reviews of Ian’s hilarious memoirs about life in France here:

A La Mod

C’est Modnifique

 

You might also enjoy reading my France et Moi interview with Ian here.



Monday, July 5, 2021

Book review of The Lies She Told by Lynda Renham

French Village Diaries book review The Lies She Told by Lynda Renham
The Lies She Told by Lynda Renham


The Lies She Told by Lynda Renham

Having enjoyed Lynda Renham’s work for many years, I couldn’t resist reading her latest, The Lies She Told, even though it isn’t set in France and is also quite a departure from my normal reads. 

 

Life in the village of Stonesend is pretty uneventful, that is until Detective Tom Miller is transferred there following a personal tragedy. He is not greeted well by local police officer, Beth Harper, who feels he is not up to the job. The day of his arrival, Kate Marshall, a teacher at the local school, is beaten in her own home and left for dead. The villagers are left in a state of shock. Was it a random attack, or something more personal?

 

When Kate is attacked in her kitchen, the quiet Oxfordshire village of Stonesend is thrown into a state of chaos. The once safe, friendly village, where community spirit was evident everywhere, is fractured by a seemingly impossible investigation whose scrutiny spares no one. 

 

This was a difficult book to review, as I really didn’t want to let slip something that might spoil the cleverly thought out plot. In fact, there are many plots all carefully entwinned, taking us into the past lives of some of the characters, and tackling some difficult topics and relationship issues. 

 

As Beth Harper and Tom Miller try to piece together the events and find the evidence they need, she is forced to reveal secrets about her recent divorce, and his arrival in the village is shrouded in unanswered questions. He has little understanding of village life and unfinished business in London, which often hampers their investigation, but I had full confidence in Beth from the beginning. Despite her personal problems, I knew she had an inner strength just waiting to surface.

 

I enjoyed following the effects of the shock waves that rippled out after the attack, affecting everyone in the village in a different way, and at some point, most of the characters became guilty in my head. 


This book totally took over my mind as I tried to work out who did it, and why.

 

The Lies She Told was released by Raucous Publishing and is available in hardback, paperback and ebook format. This would be a great summer read for those of you who enjoy novels that make you think.

 

French Village Diaries book review The Lies She Told by Lynda Renham
Lynda Renham


Lynda’s Bio

Lynda Renham is author to many popular romantic comedy and gripping psychological thriller novels. She lives in Oxford, UK. She has appeared on BBC radio discussion programs and is a prolific blogger, Twitter and when not writing can usually be found wasting her time on Facebook.

 

 

  

Sunday, July 4, 2021

Book review of Angel of the Lost Treasure by Marie Laval

French Village Diaries book review Angel of the Lost Treasure Marie Laval
Angel of the Lost Treasure by Marie Laval


Angel Of The Lost Treasure by Marie Laval

An ancient secret hidden within a mother’s song ...


When young widow, Marie-Ange Norton is invited to Beauregard in France by the mysterious Monsieur Malleval to collect an inheritance, she has no choice but to accept.


But when she embarks on the voyage with her fiery-tempered travelling companion Capitaine Hugo Saintclair, little does she know what waits for her across the sea in turbulent nineteenth-century France on the eve of Napoleon’s return from exile. When she arrives, she is taken aback by Malleval’s fascination with her family – seemingly inspired by his belief they are connected to a sacred relic he’s read about in coded manuscripts by the Knights Templar.


As it becomes clear that Malleval’s obsession has driven him to madness, Marie-Ange is horrified to realise she is more the man’s prisoner than his guest. Not only that, but Hugo is the only person who might be able to help her, and he could represent a different kind of danger.

 

French Village Diaries book review Angel of the Lost Treasure Marie Laval
Angel of the Lost Treasure by Marie Laval


My review

Marie-Ange’s story hooked me from the beginning. Having lost her mother at a young age, her father more recently and with her husband declared missing in action, Marie-Ange has spent the last six-years coping alone in a crumbling Devon manor house. 

 

With little knowledge of her French family, the invitation to the family home in France, along with a couple of unexpected encounters in Paris, spark her interest to discover as much about her past as she can. I loved the sense of intrigue as things weren’t quite what they first seemed. The more Marie-Ange learns, the more the secrets and mysteries, some that have survived the generations, deepen. Can she really be the key to the missing relic? Is she putting herself in a dangerous position to find out? Who can she trust? These were the questions that kept me turning the pages.

I found her a likeable character; a strong, independent woman who wasn’t afraid of adventure, or willing to give up until she had discovered the truth. I couldn’t help but hope she would also find love and happiness in her life. 

 

Set in that difficult period, where neither the royalists nor the revolutionaries have quite gained the dominant hand, Marie Laval brought France and her history to life in this story full of intrigue, mystery and more.

 

If you enjoy historical novels, with mystery and simmering romance, then this is one for you to immerse yourself in this summer.

 

Purchase Links  


Amazon UK  

 

Kobo  

 

French Village Diaries book review Angel of the Lost Treasure Marie Laval
Marie Laval


Author Bio  

Originally from Lyon in France, Marie has lived in the Rossendale Valley in Lancashire for the past few years. She writes both contemporary and historical romance. Her novels include best selling contemporary romantic suspense novels LITTLE PINK TAXI and ESCAPE TO THE LITTLE CHATEAU, which was shortlisted for the 2021 RNA Jackie Collins Romantic Suspense Awards, as well as A PARIS FAIRY TALE and BLUEBELL'S CHRISTMAS MAGIC. Her latest novel, ANGEL OF THE LOST TREASURE, was released in February 2021. Marie also contributes to the best selling Miss Moonshine's Emporium anthologies together with eight author friends from Authors on the Edge.

 

Social Media Links 

Facebook 

Twitter 




French Village Diaries book review Angel of the Lost Treasure Marie Laval


Saturday, July 3, 2021

Book review of Death and Croissants by Ian Moore

French Village Diaries book review Death and Croissants by Ian Moore
Death and Croissants by Ian Moore

Death and Croissants (A Follet Valley Mystery) by Ian Moore

My review today is for the latest novel from Loire based author and stand-up comedian, Ian Moore, Death and Croissants (A Follet Valley Mystery).

 

Poor old Richard. One minute his life, running a B&B in the Loire Valley, is calm to the point of being dull, just how he likes it, then mysterious guests and strange happenings at his chambre d’hôtes mean life becomes a dangerous adventure overnight. 

 

In a plot with more twists than one of Richard’s favourite classic movies, most of the time I felt as clueless about what was going on as poor Richard. With the energetic Valérie d’Orçay calling the shots, Richard is thrown into a bizarre world of grown men dressed as chickens, mysterious feuding old Frenchmen, odd British expats, the Mafia and more. In an attempt to discover what really happened to old Monsieur Grandchamps, we get to visit the city of Tours, the Château de Chenonceau and the Zoo de Beauval, as well as meet the locals in the village bar. Richard might have no idea how his routine changed so quickly, but he can’t deny that life with Valérie d’Orçay by his side is exciting, and, that excitement feels good.

 

Richard’s passion has always been the cinema and the many references to films, actors and plots all added a certain something to this story, which along with the humour you would expect from an author/comedian made it a very readable book. 


The laughs might have been at Richard’s expense, but this just made me like him more, as I tried to work out how it would end. This really is a book where nothing is quite as it first seems.

 

Will he ever find his missing guest, or more importantly discover who killed his favourite hen, Ava Gardner?

 

If you are looking for a light-hearted who-done-it, with lots of humour and a fun cast of bizarre characters, this would be a great choice. I can’t wait for the next instalment from the Follet Valley.

 

Death and Croissants is available in hardback and ebook format.

 

You can follow Ian Moore on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

  

Friday, July 2, 2021

Back at the Bibliothèque

French Village Diaries back at the bibliothèque
Arriving at the library by bike


A celebration of firsts

Yesterday was the first day of the month, my first day back at the library, my first commute by bike and the first time ever that all three of us went off to work after breakfast. If that wasn’t enough, this week, Ed’s been paid for the first time and tonight he’s off to his first work’s do, a summer barbeque. Yesterday, he even made a quiche (including making pastry for the first time, under my expert guidance) to take as his contribution to the shared meal. I’m struggling to keep up with the changes in our lives this summer and to accept how mature three-weeks work at the library has made Ed.  

 

Back at the bibliothèque

The reassuringly familiar smell of books that hit my nose as I walked back into the library yesterday morning, left me feeling calm, despite my first-day nervous excitement. Whilst the layout hasn’t changed much since 2018, not everything is as it was last time. Instead of the eye-catching new arrivals laid out at the side of the welcome desk by the door, there is now a bottle of hand gel that must be used and of course everyone needs to wear a mask. 

 

Last time, I arrived after the lady I’m replacing left on her maternity leave, but this time we have two mornings working together before she gets to put her feet up. With a busy summer of events on the calendar, it is vital that I am up to speed on the day to day tasks from the get-go. Thankfully, I still have my trusty notebook with the comprehensive instructions I wrote in 2018, and as I tentatively began familiarising myself with the system, I was relieved that things began to filter back into my head.

 

With Covid-19 closing down village life and Brexit removing me from the local council, my interaction with my French friends, and therefore my spoken French, has taken a real hit this last year. With the additional barrier of speaking through a mask, I’m pretty sure my biggest hurdle will be the communicating, but as my two colleagues chatted away yesterday morning, it felt good to be able to follow pretty much everything. I’m hoping this job is just what I need to coax me out of the safe, family bubble I’ve created since the first confinement and remind me there is still a world out there. Tomorrow morning, I will face my first test of interacting with the public, so fingers crossed for me please.


 

French Village Diaries back at the bibliothèque
The view from the bike on my commute


One big difference with working this time, is that I arrived at the library by bike rather than by car. Chef Boutonne is about eight kilometres from our village and since Covid-19, we have made a real effort to take the bikes rather than the car for journeys under ten kilometres. I can’t promise I’ll only commute by bike for the next four months, as the weather isn’t likely to be on my side every day, but I am certainly planning to use the bike whenever possible. With a quiet commute through fields where sunflowers will bloom in the coming weeks, it really isn’t going to be a hard decision to take the bike instead of the car when the sun is shining.


 

French Village Diaries back at the bibliothèque
A library on holiday


My first day wouldn’t have been complete without finding a book to read, and while putting away some of the returned books, this one found me. 

 

“Une bibliothèque en voyage” (A library on holiday), is a first-reads novel for children from six years old, so shouldn’t pose too much of a problem for my written French. With a cover depicting a slightly greying librarian on her bicycle, I knew as soon as I picked it up, this book was there for me. As I am determined to read more in French this year, at least this has got me off to a good start. 


French Village Diaries back at the bibliothèque
Madame Chut (Mrs Shush)







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