Saturday 29 November 2014

Review ~ The French for Christmas by Fiona Valpy.

Title: The French for Christmas.
Author: Fiona Valpy.
Publisher: Bookouture.
Genre: Women's Fiction.
Publication Date: October 3, 2014.
Source: Netgalley.
Rating: 5 out of 5 stars.

Purchase: Amazon UK

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?

The French for Christmas is the second Fiona Valpy book I’ve read and I love how easily her writing transports the reader to the French location. Her writing is beautifully descriptive and though this means the book reads at a slower pace, that’s not an issue because the style of writing is mesmerising and emotive and really just lovely to read. Here we’re introduced to Evie, such a sincere character with a heart-breaking story. We learn that last Christmas, Evie’s baby was stillborn and that was followed by the break-up of her marriage and her worry about her sister’s pregnancy. It might not necessarily sound like it but actually this book isn’t made festive because it has snow on the cover and Christmas in the title – it really is a wonderfully festive novel. It’s a lot more realistic than most Christmas reads in that the author shows understanding that whilst Christmas can be the happiest time of year for lots of people, it can also be the most painful time of year for those suffering from loss or grief or those who are simply feeling alone. In those circumstances, all you can ask is to make the best of what you have and The French for Christmas is hopeful and inspiring.

To escape, Evie heads off to her friends’ cottage, which is practically in the middle of nowhere in the French countryside. I loved the author’s description of the picturesque location – it was really conveyed to be a quite special place to be, especially for those dreaming of a bit of escapism themselves. I loved Evie straight away. Although I sympathised with her, I was also rooting for her the whole way through, hoping she could regain some strength and show that she wasn’t all about running away and not facing up to her problems – really she was brave and courageous. But in the spirit of Christmas, I really didn’t want her to be alone and so here we meet her newfound neighbour, doctor Didier. Didier was described as a Bradley Cooper lookalike and so from my purely shallow perspective, he had me sold. Yet it was really, honestly, his personality that won me over. He was kind and thoughtful and knew a little bit about being dealt a bad hand himself. I wanted nothing more but for them to help each other through their individual heartache. I loved how there were only a few more characters in this novel because it really helped enhance those who were present and turned what could have been a lonely escape into almost a little community. The friendships built in this book made for some heart-warming reading.

Though both Evie and Didier provide some emotional, touching moments in The French for Christmas, the novel isn’t grim or off-putting. The author handles the sad themes with huge grace and sensitivity yet also brings us an array of moments to laugh at. A certain incident involving a pig stands out the most for me and it still makes me laugh thinking about it. Whilst this book was extremely moving throughout, in true Christmas spirit it will make you hungry too. Evie, on her journey through this book, works her way through her grandmother’s cookbook and some of the recipes sounded so mouth-watering I couldn’t help but crave them. I was impressed by the first Fiona Valpy book I’ve read, The French for Always, but loved The French for Christmas even more. It was told in such a charming, exquisite way and written with a lot of heart. I took out of it an uplifting impression of how love and friendship can slowly help heal even the most consuming pain and had the feeling that I’d just finished what was an endearingly precious novel.

Review also posted on Goodreads | Amazon UK


  1. Now that's high praise "endearingly previous novel". Another for wish list. Maybe a Christmas gift off hubby !

    1. Yep, it's a really beautiful read. Hope you can persuade your hubby!


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