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1 November 2013

Review: 'L'Amour Actually' by Melanie Jones (2013)

After one particularly bad day at work, marketing executive and confirmed city girl Melanie Jones decides to give up her old life in search of something new and simpler in South West France. With little knowledge of the country, even less of the language and just the memory of a disastrous school French exchange and a few day trips to Calais, she embarks on her adventure with a suitcase full of optimism and not a little bit of naivety. After all, how different can life in France be? After a series of adventures with skirt-ripping tractors, handsome twin farmers, celebrity not-quite-beens, unusual toilets and a bonkers ex-pat community, all topped up, of course, with lashings of rosé, Melanie begins to discover that her new life in France isn’t quite what she’d thought it would be.

I have to admit, I’ve never really been a big fan of France. I love croissants as much as any other person and Paris is a gorgeous city, but besides that the country just doesn’t really do anything for me. I don’t know why exactly, because whenever I spot a chick lit novel set in France, I immediately get excited. Suddenly the promise of French-speaking men, vineyards, and the rural countryside offers a new world to get lost in, and I can’t wait to get stuck in the story. When Melanie Jones contacted me about reviewing her novel, ‘L’Amour Actually’, I straight away loved the title (which obviously reminded me of the amazing film ‘Love Actually’), and after seeing the pretty cover and reading the interesting blurb, I was really looking forward to reading about Melanie’s French adventures!

London city girl Melanie Jones one day decides to do what many people dream of doing but then never dare to actually take the plunge: she gives up her life in the UK to travel to the south of France and start anew. Without a job, without speaking French, and without any family or friends around, Melanie finds herself at the start of a new adventure. However, things already start off slightly different from what she originally expected, and soon Melanie realises life in south west France might be a bit too different from her comfortable life in London... Will she decide to simply see her trip as a well-needed holiday or is she truly ready to start over and give rural France a chance?   

After reading the first few chapters of this novel, I realised I had already fallen in love with its heroine, Melanie. First of all, I admire her for daring to change her life drastically by giving up her job and following her heart to the south of France to start afresh. Next to that, the fact that Mel wears high-heeled Louboutins on her trip to the French countryside, manages to end up in a ditch, and rips her skirt while trying to step down from a tractor in a not too embarrassing way... She had me laughing out loud before I had even read the first 50 pages, so I knew I was in for an enjoyable read. Next to a lovely heroine, ‘L’Amour Actually’ has a great cast of characters at its core, including hunky farmer Julian (and his twin brother... oh, yes!), reality TV singer Tracey Tarrant (who turns out to be Mel’s not so friendly neighbour), and several other diverse but fascinating people. 

Part of the book is based on Melanie Jones’ own experiences as an expat in France, and it includes quite a few embarrassing, but extremely funny situations. Mel is trying to find a place in a new community; trying to fit in somewhere where she doesn’t know the language, doesn’t have a job, and doesn’t have any friends or family around her to make her feel at home. This plotline resulted in numerous great scenes, which made me want to continue on reading and discover what situation Melanie would find herself in next. ‘L’Amour Actually’ is a funny, thoroughly enjoyable escape read which will make you laugh out loud, and I personally can’t wait to read more of Melanie Jones’ stories!   


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