Review: 'The French for Always' by Fiona Valpy (2014)
Leaving the grey skies of home behind to transform a crumbling French Château into a boutique wedding venue is a huge leap of faith for Sara. She and fiancé Gavin sink their life savings into the beautiful Château Bellevue – set under blue skies and surrounded by vineyards in the heart of Bordeaux.
After months of hard work, the dream starts to become a reality – until Gavin walks out halfway through their first season. Overnight, Sara is left very much alone with the prospect of losing everything.
With her own heart breaking, Sara has five weddings before the end of the season to turn the business around and rescue her dreams. With the help of the locals and a little courage can she save Château Bellevue before the summer is over?
It’s almost the end of April and I think we can safely say that Spring has definitely arrived. This also means the start of a couple of months in which we will be treated to numerous new releases filled with the feeling of summer! Gorgeous holiday locations, steamy summer flings... I’m already looking forward to all the brilliant reads, and my first summer novel of this year arrived in the form of Fiona Valpy’s ‘The French for Always’! I was contacted by the lovely Kim at Bookouture about possibly reviewing Fiona Valpy’s second novel, which will be released on the 25th of April, and I couldn’t possibly say no after seeing the gorgeous cover!
Sara and her fiancé Gavin made the decision to leave their comfortable life in the UK behind and are now making their dreams come true in France. They used their life savings to buy a wonderful chateau in a small French village in order to turn it into a thriving wedding venue. A lot of work needs to be done, but with enough weddings booked for their first season, Sara is excited and ready to turn their new business into a success. However, when Gavin suddenly decides to leave, Sara is left alone with no idea how to do it all on her own. Next to that, without Gavin’s financial help, Sara knows she will have to eventually sell her beloved Chateau Bellevue. The only thing left to do is try and make the absolute best of the five weddings still planned until the end of the season, to show everyone what she is capable of before summer ends.
I fell in love with this novel as soon as I had read the first few pages. I am a sucker for any story that in one way or another has to do with weddings, but I have to admit, I’m not a particular fan of France. Yet, the descriptions of Chateau Bellevue, the surroundings, the small village and its inhabitants... I loved it and the whole atmosphere in the novel immediately made it feel like summer, even though it was raining where I was! The main character, Sara, was easily likeable and I felt myself rooting for her and her wedding business, especially after her fiancé Gavin decides to leave her and she suddenly has to set up the business on her own. Luckily, Sara is surrounded by a great cast of supporting characters, including the trustworthy Karen and handsome and charming Thomas.
The storyline, which revolves around Sara and her attempts to save Chateau Bellevue, was really enjoyable, especially because of the five weddings that are organised at the venue while the story enfolds. Each of the weddings featured a specific couple, all of them different from one another with their own background. Fiona Valpy’s writing is great; well-paced, detailed, and captivating, and I definitely look forward to reading more of her work in the future. ‘The French for Always’ is a wonderfully warm and thoroughly enjoyable read, and definitely the book to pick up if you are looking for your first taste of summer!