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Jewell

House Built of Books

I read. A lot.

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Who doesn't love a lovely French accent?

The French for Love - Fiona Valpy

This is a sweet romance set in the Bordeaux region of France, but it's a bit let down by the pacing.

 

Valpy lives in the area - her detail is fantastic and really makes her French-set books special.  (I have also read The French for Always, which I liked better - the heroine is in the same industry as me and it's a more accomplished, structurally sound book.)

 

Gina, having lost her father, her job, her boyfriend and her beloved Aunt Liz, moves to the house Liz left her in France to find a new start.  She discovers family secrets, exciting new wines, and two potential suitors.  The first, Nigel, is a little caricature of a certain type of English expat.  The second is the delectable stonemason Cedric.

 

Gina's voice was engaging enough, and I liked the characterisation - not a lot of stock here.  There were some nice details about wine and wine-making and the introduction of various new characters never felt like sequel-bait (even though they appear in later books.)

 

But for me too much time was spent on Gina's introspection, and not enough on the romance.  There is a lot of "we're attracted to each other" but there's no date until maybe three quarters of the way through the book, and the thing that keeps Gina and Cedric apart could've been easily resolved by Gina asking one simple question.  The courtship is then dealt with in what feels like about three paragraphs.

 

Gina then has to make a decision: take the big career opportunity she's been offered and leave France, or turn down the job and stay with Cedric.  

 

I was quite disappointed with the way this went down.  Cedric yells at Gina as if her wanting a career was purely selfish.  In the end, Gina gives up her opportunity - but I don't see Cedric giving up anything in return.  (To be fair, Gina makes a further appearance in The French for Always, working for a vineyard.)  Cedric is painted as a man of sorrow who had lost his first wife to cancer, but we are never really shown that - perhaps a limitation of the first-person narrative.  

 

There's a baby epilogue, which always makes me want to vomit.  Romance is not just for people who want babies...I hope.

 

I'd recommend, with caveats.