The French for Christmas by Fiona Valpy
Release Date: 3rd October 2014
A year to forget. The perfect escape. And a little Christmas magic…
Touching, uplifting, and filled with delicious French cooking, The French for Christmas is the perfect Christmas treat.
Evie used to LOVE Christmas, but this year she can’t wait for the tinsel and presents to be a distant memory.
When her best friends offer the use of their cottage in the beautiful French countryside, Evie jumps at the chance. With her soon-to-be-ex-husband, celebrity chef Will Brooke, plastered over the news with his latest ‘love interest’, leaving the country seems like the perfect plan.
Armed with her French grandmother’s tattered notebook of recipes, Evie is determined to ignore Christmas altogether and bake herself back to happiness.
And when Evie meets her next-door neighbour – the très gorgeous doctor Didier she finds a very willing taste-tester. But is it possible that he could be interested in more than just her Tarte Tatin?
With snow falling, a special Réveillon dinner and a little Christmas magic in the air, could Didier even be the one to thaw Evie’s heart? Or will a visit from the ghost of Christmas past change everything?
Poor Evie has had a particularly horrible year, she’s lost her baby, separated from her husband who is now seeing someone else and lost her passion for cookery.
Sensing her dread of the onset of Christmas, Evie’s friend Rose offers her holiday cottage in the French countryside as a retreat for Evie to escape the festive season and recuperate. Evie accepts and prepares to hide herself away and have her own Not-Christmas in France. However, this particular Not-Christmas turns out to be not so bad after all when she gets to know her neighbours (particularly the very handsome Bradley-Cooper look-alike, Didier) who remind her that as bleak as winter might feel at the moment, as in life, spring is always around the corner…
This is the second book of Fiona Valpy’s that I’ve read. For some reason I didn’t really get into The French for Love, so I wasn’t sure what to except from The French for Christmas, but I am always willing to try a Christmas novel…and I’m so glad that I did, because I absolutely adored this charming, thought provoking story.
My heart broke for Evie as she struggled through her cloud of depression and lost interest in all of her dreams. It was inspiring to read about her journey of coming to terms with her grief and learning how to forgive those closest to her in order to move on. I loved the relationship she formed with her neighbours, Eliane and Mathieu and the way that she gets to know Didier and discovers that he has experienced a tragic loss of his own.
The setting is perfect for this story; Fiona really brings the French countryside to life and you have no trouble envisaging the beautiful surroundings of Evie’s cottage, especially when it snows. You couldn’t get more Christmassy with the setting if you tried…
Then there’s the food! Oh la la! Fiona’s descriptions of the French cuisine will have your mouth watering. It seems to be a trend with romance books that involve cookery in some shape or form to include recipes and I felt it would be amazing if there were one or two or Mamie Luice’s included in The French for Christmas. (Not that I’d be any good at re-creating them, mind…)
It all contributes to bringing this inspirational, warm hearted story to life. I felt that the topic of loss was dealt with sensitively and gently, and you can’t help but get swept up in Evie’s magical adventure in France.
As part of my Christmas Corner, I will be rating each Christmas book I read on just how Christmassy they are. (You know those books that have a Christmas-inspired cover but the stories aren’t really that Christmassy?) There seems to be lots out there and whilst they might be brilliant stories in their own right, I can’t help but feel misled. Where’s my Christmas storyline? Just because you put a bit of snow or glitter on the cover, this does not mean it’s a Christmas book.
My Christmas Rating for The French For Christmas is:
I felt really Christmassy reading this! The main part of the story is set during Christmas Eve and Christmas Day , the setting is gorgeous and the food sounds delicious. Alongside all the festive-ness there is also a more serious underlying storyline to this novel which makes it truly touching and extremely gripping. All in all the perfect wintry-night-by-the-fire read.
A huge thank you to Bookouture for very kindly sending me this title to review. ♥
Fiona Valpy lives in France, having moved there from the UK in 2007. She left behind a career in Marketing and Public Relations to explore new avenues and now teaches yoga and writes. Having renovated an old, rambling farmhouse with her husband, she has developed new-found skills in cement-mixing and interior decorating, although her preferred pastime is winetasting.