Wednesday, September 22, 2021

Book review of Falling in Louvre by Fiona Leitch

French Village Diaries book review Falling in Louvre Fiona Leitch
Falling in Louvre by Fiona Leitch


Falling in Louvre by Fiona Leitch

 

'A heartfelt, funny and romantic caper - a mashup masterpiece!' - Sandy Barker, author of 'That Night in Paris'.

 

Bertrand is King of the Pigeons

 

Unofficially. From his perch atop a gargoyle on Notre Dame cathedral, he surveys his kingdom. He sees Sylvie Cloutier, art lover and ex-antiques dealer, making dinner for her bullying husband Henri, trapped in their loveless marriage like a bird in a gilded cage. He sees security guard, hopeless romantic and bookworm Philippe Moreau cycling through the streets of Paris in his crumpled uniform, late (again) for his night shift at the museum.

 

When Sylvie begs her husband to let her go to work, he gets her a job as an evening cleaner at the Louvre. He thinks such a menial position will dispel any ideas about independence she might have, but his plan backfires when she falls in love with kind, gentle Philippe. They decide to run away together, but theres a major problem: neither of them has any money.

 

One stormy night in the Louvre, the answer to their prayers falls into their lap… But is it really the solution, or just another, even bigger problem?

 

What follows is a romantic, wistful but madcap adventure through (and under) the city of lights, involving a stolen painting, an art heist in reverse, and Eric Cantona. Will love find a way?

 


French Village Diaries book review Falling in Louvre Fiona Leitch
Falling in Louvre by Fiona Leitch


My review

Never underestimate the power an out of hours cleaning job can give.

 

Bullied by her controlling husband, Sylvie knows she isn’t happy, but has no idea how much she needs to escape, until an unexpected taste of freedom and independence, gives her the clarity she has been missing for the last few years. Henri and his actions are deplorable, but despite the sensitive and emotive subject, this book is very funny. From the pigeons above the Notre Dame and the Sacre Coeur, to the sewer tunnels beneath the famous streets, to the quiet galleries of the Louvre at night, this book swept me off on a wonderfully different adventure in Paris, alongside a cast of misfit characters, all who had their part to play in this humorous love story.

 

The scrapes and situations Philippe and Sylvie find themselves in as they try to find a way to be together, are brilliantly written. The twists and turns of the plot, combined with the witty writing style and the love and friendship that held everything together, left me with a huge grin on my face. 

 

I honestly wasn’t expecting it to be such an entertaining and humorous read, but it proved to be just what I needed to balance the woes of the pandemic. 

 

If you are looking for a funny escape that is refreshingly different, I suggest picking up a copy of Falling in Louvre. I’ve not read any previous books by Fiona, but I’ll certainly be adding her cosy mysteries to my reading lists from now on. 


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French Village Diaries book review Falling in Louvre Fiona Leitch
Fiona Leitch


Author Bio 

Fiona Leitch is a writer with a chequered past. She's written for football and motoring magazines, DJ'ed at illegal raves and is a stalwart of the low budget TV commercial, even appearing as the Australasian face of a cleaning product called 'Sod Off'. After living in London and Cornwall she's finally settled in sunny New Zealand, where she enjoys scaring her cats by trying out dialogue on them. She spends her days dreaming of retiring to a crumbling Venetian palazzo, walking on the windswept beaches of West Auckland, and writing funny, flawed but awesome female characters. Her debut novel, ‘Dead in Venice’, was published by Audible as one of their Crime Grant scheme finalists, and her bestselling cosy mystery series, The Nosey Parker Mysteries, is published by One More Chapter/HarperCollins.


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French Village Diaries book review Falling in Louvre Fiona Leitch
Falling in Louvre by Fiona Leitch


Monday, September 20, 2021

Book review The Hands On French Cookbook by Elisabeth de Châtillon

French Village Diaries book review The Hands On French Cookbook Elisabeth de Châtillon
The Hands On French Cookbook, Elisabeth de Châtillon

Elisabeth de Châtillon on Tour 20th September - 1st October with

The Hands On French Cookbook: Connect With French Through Simple, Healthy Cooking

(nonfiction: Healthy Bilingual French Cook Book and Language Book – French and English) 
 Release date: 6/2/2021 144 pages Hands on French Goodreads 📚📚📚


Synopsis

If you think French food is complicated, decadent, and heavy, think again! If you think learning and exploring another language is difficult or boring, think again! And if you think cooking French food and learning French at the same time is impossible, teacher and home cook Elisabeth de Châtillon is here to prove you wrong. It might sound too good to be true, but THE HANDS ON FRENCH COOKBOOK is full of healthy, simple French recipes that you can make for friends and family while you learn not only the French language but also a little bit about French culture in a relaxed, fun, tasty way.

My review 

There is a lot to love in this innovative French recipe book. 

It is bilingual, with all the text cleverly split into short phrases that can easily be read and translated, with the addition of a handy verb section for each recipe. The repetition of reading this will mean you will soon remember the difference between éplucher and égouter or étaler and émietter. I certainly remember struggling with verbs like these when I first tried to follow a recipe in French. I will admit that although I don’t really need the English translations these days, I still picked up the odd new word or two. 

I also enjoyed the choice of recipes, as there is a good selection from all over France, and for all times of year, although I’d have loved a few more than the ten. From summer salads to comforting and warming gratin dishes, and not forgetting tempting desserts. The seasonal vegetable variation suggestions for each dish were also a great addition to the main recipe, and certainly gave me a few good ideas.

I think my favourite element, and where I learned the most, was the helpful section at the end of each recipe explaining where in France (or elsewhere) each dish came from. Regional food and seasonality are so important in French cooking, I’m glad this was included rather than just a collection of recipe ingredients and methods.

For anyone with an interest in cooking and eating French food, who is also looking for a practical and fun way to improve their French vocabulary, this book ticks a lot of boxes.

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About the author


French Village Diaries book review The Hands On French Cookbook Elisabeth de Châtillon
Elisabeth de Châtillon
 

Elisabeth de Châtillon was born in France, has an MA in Education and Marketing, and has taught extensively in both the USA and Europe. She is also an accomplished home cook who enjoys sharing her love for French cooking by feeding her family and friends simple, good food. Her book, THE HANDS ON FRENCH COOKBOOK, was born from her combined love of teaching and cooking —and a desire to share that love and knowledge. When Elisabeth isn’t working or cooking, she likes stepping on her yoga mat, meditating, swimming in the ocean and lakes, walking in the beautiful outdoors, and traveling. She currently lives in Nashville, TN, with her husband, Ron, and Minou, her bilingual cat. To find our more, please visit her website. Follow her on Facebook, on Instagram, or on LinkedIn  



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French Village Diaries book review The Hands On French Cookbook Elisabeth de Châtillon

Thursday, September 16, 2021

Fit into 50

French Village Diaries Fit into 50 #fitinto50
Cycling the Cognac vineyards


It’s the little things

I know many of you have only ‘met’ me through my words here, but it is fair to say that at 155cm (5ft 2) and 47 kgs (seven and a half stone), ‘little’ sums me up quite nicely, so as I celebrate my fiftieth birthday, I thought a list of 50 little things I am thankful for would be a good idea, and something I can look back on in the years to come.

 

I started making the list and after the first ten, my ideas slowed down, until I stumbled on the word courage. I don’t generally think of myself as a brave person. I can’t sleep during a thunderstorm (unlike Adrian) and if it’s forecast to bring strong gale force winds with it, I’m a wreck. However, it soon became apparent that most of the little things I’m thankful for have occurred because I’ve had the courage to step out of my comfort zone and choose a different, and often difficult path. 

 

Long before we moved to France as a family, I’d had the courage to realise the relationship I’d been in for seven years wasn’t one that was going make either of us happy in the long run. The easy option would have been to stay and see what happened, the brave one was what I chose, to go my separate way and risk everything on a feeling that my friend Adrian could offer me happiness. A year later we were married.

 

It was another brave move to leave the UK and our family behind, when Ed was only three years old, and start again in France, where we knew no one and only had a basic grasp of the language. With Adrian working away a lot of the time, I had to be brave and take myself out of the house, creating a life for me outside of being wife and mother. Stepping out of my comfort zone and saying yes to new things opened so many doors and took courage I didn’t realise I had. In our first few years in France, as well as helping out at Ed’s school, I’d become involved in the village monthly magazine, even though the meetings with rapid fire French were incomprehensible to begin with. Then I agreed to help out at the village library, which ultimately, many years later, led to me getting paid to work at the Chef-Boutonne library on two maternity replacement contracts. Becoming known in the village also led to me being asked to stand for election onto the local council, and get elected in 2014, for a six-year term, that if Brexit hadn’t have happened, might well have been extended for another six years.

 

Starting a blog about our life here in France and putting everything out there for anyone in the world to read, took courage (or madness), but again it is something positive that has given me so much. Not only has it led to new experiences that have boosted my confidence, like writing for a monthly magazine, but it’s also helped me to connect with some lovely people, from every continent. 


 

French Village Diaries Fit into 50 #fitinto50
Before and after cycling became my thing


Having the courage to get on my first ever drop handle-bar road bike, aged thirty-nine (and three quarters), was terrifying, but ultimately led to a love of cycling and cycle touring, so that I now can’t imagine not owning a bike. I might never have natural grace or balance on a bike, but that doesn’t stop me turning the pedals and following on behind Adrian, whether we are cycling into town, touring around France or climbing mountains in the Pyrenees. The fact that I’ve also managed to encourage others to use their bikes is something I’m really proud of.

 

The French word for ‘courage’ is courage, but the French for ‘good luck’ is bon courage, which I think is actually pretty accurate. I’ve been so lucky in so many ways; to marry a good man, for our family to live a fantastic life in France and to have the health and fitness to cycle over 100km in a day, or climb mountains on my bike, but it’s taken many courageous steps to get to where I am today. As I pour a glass of champagne to celebrate my birthday, I see now that I’m braver than I thought.

 

We all need a reminder every so often of how brave we’ve been and how strong we really are. It is all too easy for our heads to get lost in the myriad of stuff we’ve messed up, or that we’ve not managed to achieve or that is on a wish list for the future. Not every success needs to be a huge one, or one that reaps financial reward; it’s the little things that make us (and those around us) smile that need to be celebrated.

 

My twenties were when I met and married Adrian, and Ed arrived in our lives.

 

My thirties were when we moved to France and I began to shed those excess kilos that had always been with me.

 

My forties were when I really discovered cycling and fitness.

 

As I ‘Fit into 50’ bien dans ma peau (to be comfortable in my skin), I’m ready to embrace whatever adventures my fifties have to offer.

 


Tuesday, September 14, 2021

Book review of Falling for a French Dream by Jennifer Bohnet

French Village Diaries Falling for a French Dream Jennifer Bohnet
Falling for a French Dream by Jennifer Bohnet


Falling for a French Dream by Jennifer Bohnet

 

Escape to hills high above the French Riviera with international bestseller Jennifer Bohnet.

 

After tragically losing her husband, Nicola Jacques and her teenage son Oliver relocate to his father’s family's Olive Farm in the hills above the French Riviera.

 

Due to a family feud, Oliver has never known his fathers’ side of the family and Grandpapa Henri is intent that Oliver will take over the reins of the ancestral farm and his rightful inheritance.

 

Determined to keep her independence from a rather controlling Grandpapa, Nicola buys a run-down cottage on the edge of the family's Olive Farm and sets to work renovating their new home and providing an income by cultivating the small holding that came with the cottage.

 

As the summer months roll by, Nicola and Oliver begin to settle happily into their new way of life with the help of Aunts Josephine and Odette, Henri’s twin sisters and local property developer Gilles Bongars.

 

But the arrival of some unexpected news and guests at the farm, force Nicole and Aunt Josephine to assess what and where their futures lie.

 

This book was previously published as The French Legacy.


 

French Village Diaries Falling for a French Dream Jennifer Bohnet
Falling for a French Dream by Jennifer Bohnet


My review

I can’t believe I missed this book when it was first published as The French Legacy, but I’m delighted it is now available with a new title, a pretty new cover and a few more chapters. It really was the perfect summer escape; its pages full of everything that conjures up the south of France, with a lot more besides. 

 

The Jacques family haven’t always had an easy ride of things, from Henri attempting to control everyone’s lives, to Marc’s impossible search for adventure and now Oliver, who is struggling to adapt to some big life changes, they are a dysfunctional family learning to move on following tragedy. The women had their dramas and sadness too, but came across as strong, dependable and, despite his tough exterior, able to put Henri in his place, when necessary.

 

I loved getting to know Nicola as she navigated family life in France, alongside making a home for herself and Oliver and I felt quite at home around the table in the old farmhouse, experiencing the grape and olive harvests, family meals and the challenges of extreme weather. As the family secrets were revealed and stories of lost love and new love took shape, this was an easy book to get lost within and I wished it wouldn't come to an end. I couldn’t help but want Nicola to fall in love with the French dream and find some happiness for herself too, she certainly deserved it. 

 

If you need a post-summer pick-me-up, I’m sure Falling for a French Dream will hit the spot.


 

French Village Diaries Falling for a French Dream Jennifer Bohnet
Falling for a French Dream by Jennifer Bohnet


Purchase Links 



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French Village Diaries Falling for a French Dream Jennifer Bohnet
Jennifer Bohnet


Author Bio 

Jennifer Bohnet is the bestselling author of over 12 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 Falling for a French Dream Jennifer Bohnet
Falling for a French Dream by Jennifer Bohnet