Escape to the French Farmhouse by Jo Thomas
Normally, at this time of year, I would be thinking of all those delicious beach reads that I would like to take on holiday. I enjoy perusing the cheery covers and choosing the ones that best appeal. This year, things are slightly different. People are struggling to get to foreign climes. But I don't think that should stop us enjoying a jolly good beach read and this one does not disappoint.
Del and her husband Ollie have moved to Provence following an intensive bout of IVF treatment, but after 6 weeks Ollie decides they should return home. Realising she no longer loves Ollie, Del decides to remain in France and start a brand new life. She finds out all about lavender the region is famous for and rediscovers her love of cooking.
Best of all, she becomes heavily involved with the community fully embracing French life rather than choosing to live as an 'ex-pat'. She meets Henri, owner of the local bistro, who fosters her culinary ambitions, Fabian, the extremely handsome owner of the Brocante and befriends Stephanie, a young homeless mother. But trouble is brewing from Ollie and the ex-pat community led by the formidable Cora. Will Del stay in France? What will happen to the town? and will she ever get together with Fabian?
I have to say I thought this novel was great. I love France, and Jo Thomas has really captured its essence from the swathes of purple fields to the buttery goodness of every croissant delivered by the bakery van. She touches on the English in France and how they can contribute to the crumbling of French community, but reminds us how it is truly wonderful to embrace a brand new culture. The cast are great, Del is extremely likeable and I enjoyed the relationship that forms between her and Stefanie.
Its immense fun and at times I could almost taste a fine croissant and a strong cup of café or the crispness of a delicate rosé.
But I digress. So if you are a little sad about not going on holiday this summer, then treat yourself to this book and enjoy reading on a lazy summers day with a pain au chocolat or the lavender shortbread (the recipe is in the back of the book - what's not to love?). I swear you will be transported to a delicious French holiday.