28 Oct #BookoutureXmas: Review + INT Giveaway ‘The French for Christmas’ by Fiona Valpy
And we’re continuing the fun, brining you a giveaway and a review of another beautiful Bookouture Christmas book and oh my, this one is very emotional. ‘The French for Christmas’ by Fiona Valpy is definitely a book you must not miss out on! Read on for our review of this emotional story and enter the international giveaway to win a paperback! See you tomorrow for more #BookoutureXmas fun.
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?
* Copy provided by the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review *
‘The French for Christmas’ is the first book by Fiona Valpy I have read, but it’s definitely not going to be the last one. It’s been waiting in my TBR pile for a year, and now after reading it I want to slap myself hard for waiting so long to read this wonderful story.
‘The French for Christmas’ is not your typical festive read. Oh yes, there’s romance and wonderful Christmas dishes, made with love and with a modern spin to the classic French ones. But if you’re looking for a fluffy, cheery Christmas book, this might not be the one. However, if you’re looking for a deep, poignant yet up lifting story with loads of beautiful messages, then you don’t need to look any further.
This book made me cry so many times, first time being right at the beginning and I wasn’t even 10% in. It tells the story of Evie who’s lost her baby when she was seven months pregnant and had to deliver a dead baby. While reading about this, I felt like my heart was crushed into million tiny pieces. Ms Valpy does an excellent work in describing Evie’s feelings, the grief and sadness and I don’t believe there ever will be a reader who won’t find those descriptions unsettling. Yet it’s because of this vivid portrayal of Evie, that we all get to know her so well, her feelings and past and her determination to leave everything behind and run. The first anniversary of the saddest moment of her life is fast approaching, and falls exactly on Christmas. Everyone is looking forward to Christmas and spending time with the family, but not Evie. She’s got no one. First she lost her baby, then her husband leaves her because she’s become nothing but a shadow of herself. Wanting to run away from it all, she leaves for the French countryside, to stay at her friends’ summer house. What she expects is to find some peace and ease for her pain, some quiet time with her sadness and memories. What she certainly doesn’t expect is to fall in love with the neighbor, rekindle her love for cooking and be welcomed into a lovely community which makes her feel like she belongs.
‘The French for Christmas’ is definitely a book that stands out from the other books, especially Christmas ones, I’ve read so far. Ms Valpy has a knack for creating the most in-depth descriptions which make you feel like you’re one of the book characters. It feels so real and it also feels like everything is happening to you. I cried, my heart was broken then patched (just like Evie’s)… I don’t know, I just experienced so many emotions while reading it. It’s definitely not a fluffy romance, on the contrary it’s a very heavy, at times even disturbing read (at least it was for me), but even while you’re reading these details and peel a layer after layer of Evie’s soul, you feel honoured to witness this. I don’t know if any of this makes sense to you, but as I said, this is not a typical romance.
Didier, the French neighbour was an amazing character. Ms Valpy doesn’t follow the cliche of creating heroes who are Alpha males or bad boys. Didier is not the stereotype we see in so many romance stories, and this is the main reason why I liked him from the beginning. He’s the perfect gentleman any woman could fall for, and not just cause of his looks.
What I also loved is the description of the French countryside, that tranquility of the house, the apple yard, the simplicity of the country life. I also loved the neighbours, Eliane and her husband were wonderful addition to the story. It’s amazing how welcoming and friendly they are, something which Evie hasn’t experienced in London. Eliane’s such a strong and lovely character and her story made me cry big, ugly tears. I was constantly asking myself, why do these tragic things happen to such wonderful people and how on earth did they manage to pick up the pieces and move on. Being a woman and a mother myself, I admire Evie and Eliane’s strength. I honestly can’t even imagine the hell they went through. But they are not only survivors, they are fighters.
The beauty of this book is that it gives hope, it shows the importance of forgiving and letting go of all the difficult moments and the many mysterious ways god, nature or the universe work.
My only complaint would be I wish there was more dialogue, because as much as I enjoyed the monologue and the wonderful descriptions, sometimes they felt overwhelming. It felt like an additional burden to a story which is already heavy. This might work for some, but it was a slight problem for me. But nevertheless, it didn’t stop me from enjoying the book and I’m most definitely reading Ms Valpy’s other books.
‘The French for Christmas’ is a beautiful, heart breaking yet uplifting wonderful story I certainly recommend to all fans of women’s fiction.
My rating: 8/10