I LOVE FRANCE!
I plan to publish this meme every Thursday.
You can share here about any book
or anything cultural you just discovered related to France, Paris, etc.
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The Summer of France
Published by Oblique Press
in October 2012
Ebook received from the author
for an honest review
This book counts for the following Reading Challenges:
MY THOUGHTS ABOUT THIS BOOK
The world of blogging opens up to great new connections and opportunities. I had read reviews of The Summer of France by other book bloggers, and then the author got in touch with me through my “I Love France” meme if I remember correctly, asking if I would like to read and review her book! How could I say no?
I had kind of forgotten about the reviews read when I started the book, so it was fun diving into it like into a blind adventure, actually quite like the heroine Fia as she arrives in Provence.
It starts on the quiet side as Fia hopes for a kind of new beginning thanks to the invitation of her uncle and aunt to go and run their B&B during the summer, so that they can take a break.
But things are never what they look, are they? And so this gentle book grabs you and pulls you into all kinds of unexpected surprises and mysteries. The suspense builds up with the alternation of chapters on what Fia is going through and what her uncle went through decades ago during WWII, and the dangerous consequences he still faces daily.
It is a rich narrative, with characters you can easily imagine in real life; with common family problems; with deeper themes related to the past, guilt or freedom for what one may have done; and how to combine the love of one’s husband, children, your other relatives, as each evolves in his or her own way.
And all of this with Provence as the background, cool descriptions of Aix and the region around it, so dear to the heart of the painter Cézanne.
I liked the mix of Fia’s dreams about France and what she actually encountered, with some really French characters, Christophe being the epitome of lots of French guys I think!
The author had also a smart way of integrating French words, with some mistakes and awkward expressions, just like a foreigner like Fia would start speaking the language, so these mistakes made actually sense and were very acceptable, even by ME, who always enter in a rage when French words are ill-used or written with typos in English books!
If you can’t make it to France next summer, I highly suggest you read this novel. And actually, why wait for the summer? You might as well see if Santa could do something for you soon!
WHAT IS IT ABOUT
When Fia Jennings loses her job at the local newspaper, she thinks she’ll have the chance to bond with her teenage twins. As she realizes she may be too late to pull her family together, her husband Grayson pressures her to find another job so they can pay the increasing bills. Relief comes with a phone call from Fia’s great Uncle Martin who runs a bed and breakfast in Provence. Uncle Martin wants Fia to venture to France to run the B&B so he and his wife Lucie can travel. He doesn’t tell Fia about the secret he hid in the house when he married Lucie after fighting in World War II, and he doesn’t mention the people who are tapping his phone and following him, hoping to find the secret.
After much cajoling, Fia whisks her family to France and is stunned when Uncle Martin and Aunt Lucie leave the same day for a Greek cruise.
She’s thrown into the minutiae of a running the B&B without the benefit of speaking the language. Her dreams of family bonding time fade as her teenagers make French friends. Kasie joins a local swim team, riding off to practice on the back of a scooter each morning, hips tucked next to the 18-year-old French boy who teaches her to smoke brown cigarettes and drink red wine. West accompanies a pouty French teenager around the city, playing his guitar in the town squares to earn spending money. Fia’s husband Grayson begins touring the countryside with a pretty French woman, and Fia resists the distractions of Christophe, a handsome French man. Why the whirlwind of French welcome, Fia wonders after she comes home from a day at the beach in Nice to find someone has ransacked the B&B.
Fia parses Uncle Martin’s obscure phone calls, trying to figure out this WW II hero’s secret. Can she assuage Uncle Martin’s World War II guilt and build the family she’s always dreamed of? [Goodreads]
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
During the summer when I was a child, I would get up early while everyone else was sleeping, pack a peanut butter sandwich and take my notebook to explore the neighborhood. I don’t know how far I actually went, but I was always hoping to find adventures to write about. Mostly, I remember plopping down under a big tree in my front yard and scribbling in my notebook there. My childhood novels mostly mimicked whatever genre I was reading at the moment – mysteries or settlers traveling west.
When it came time to make a living, I decided journalism was the only profession that offered me a chance to write and make a steady salary. I inched my way up from a weekly in Blanchester, Ohio, to a daily in Middletown, Ohio. Grad school at American University in Washington, D.C. propelled me to The Tampa Tribune where I covered important things like the city of Clearwater and bridges that didn’t fall during hurricanes [author’s website].
Go to Paulita’s website to read more about her, and about her other books. An visit her blog.
HAVE YOU READ THIS BOOK YET?
WHAT’S YOUR FAVORITE HISTORICAL NOVEL ON FRANCE?
SHARE YOUR THOUGHTS IN A COMMENT PLEASE
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What a terrific review! If I han’t already read this wonderful book, I would want to now.
Glad you enjoyed my review and that it worked: my goal is really to give my followers the desire to read the book, when it’s worth it. And yes, that would make a great movie! I had to laugh though for some actors you mentioned: I did not remember French guys as muscled as Marini!! lol
Emma, Your review means a lot because, being authentically French, I was afraid you might be tougher on my portrayal of the French and France. Of course, my portrayal was from a tourist’s point of view, which I’m lucky to have been in France, and hope I will be again soon. I’m so glad you enjoyed the book.
You are welcome. Believe, I know a few people would really fit in Christophe’s character, for instance. I am actually usually not too tender anyway towards my compatriots… lol. But France is great for tourists for sure!
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This sounds like my kind of book and I’ll see about downloading it now. My next novel, The Promise of Provence (which will hopefully be published in a month or two), is also set in Provence as well as Antibes. With your permission, I’ll send you a copy to review once it’s launched. I’m loving your site and thank you for the introduction to so many other books about France, the country that owns my heart!
That would be great! Looking forward to reviewing your next book
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