Book review: George’s Grand Tour – I love France #149

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George’s Grand Tour

George's Grand Tour


George’s Grand Tour
(L’avant-dernière chance)
Caroline Vermalle

Anna Aitken

Publisher:  Gallic Books
ISBN: 978-1908313737

Pages: 191
US publication date: 26th May 2015

Prix Nouveau Talent (2009), Prix Chronos (2011)

Genre:  Literary fiction
Source: Received from the publisher


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In full compliance with FTC Guidelines,
I received this book for free in exchange for a fair and honest review.
I was in no way compensated for this post as a reviewer, and the thoughts are my own.

This book counts for the following Reading Challenges

2015 Translation  New Authors 2015

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I just received this delightful novel from Gallic Books. George’s Grand Tour is a great example of France’s rather new voices in literature. This book, inspired by the author’s own adventurous grandfather, will be released tomorrow. I highly suggest you don’t wait longer to purchase it.

George, 83, a retired butcher and a widower, misses his wife. Plagued by the usual ailments of old age, he is rather lonely.
One day, he seizes what seems to be the perfect circumstances to leave with his neighbor Charles on their own Tour de France, by car: following the 2008 Tour de France itinerary, they plan to cover 3,500 km, with 21 stages, stopping at 49 cities and villages, with 2 or 3 days at each stage to allow them to explore around. He plans to hide this 2 months dream trip from his daughter, afraid she will put him instead in a nursing home.

The audacity of it! It had been years since he’d done something daring.

But as luck would have it, his grand-daughter Adèle, 23, calls him out of the blue from London where she works as a runner for a film company. Adèle is very disappointed with her unpaid job. But her grandpa’s adventure lifts her up. They start communicating at a deeper and deeper level, mostly through text messages.

I fully enjoyed this short book on the themes of communication and connection between generations, and about friendship.
At a time when we seem to notice people isolating themselves through an overdose of digital tools, it is refreshing to read about how using modern technology, here text messages, can actually help rebuild bridges between generations.
The passages on George learning how to text and use text language (as well as pig Latin) were hilarious. There were really great dialogs relating to modern life.

This is also about how using the chance for adventure towards new horizons can help you forget our current medical obsession of fixing everything, and make you free to appreciate again the simple joys of everyday life.

I enjoyed the mix of hilarity and emotional passages (remember, this is a French novel, so as always, have your box of Kleenex ready), of fun dialogs and the seriousness of the topics covered.
There were also neat descriptions of Brittany landscapes.

On a literary level, the opening and the end both contain great twists.

VERDICT: Hilarious and serious novel on rediscovering the joys of daily life at any age, and on how modern technology can help rebuild bridges of communication and sharing between generations. Refreshing look at current hot topics.


A poignant yet joyful tale of how life can surprise us, at any age.
At the age of 83, retired butcher George Nicoleau is about to set off on the greatest adventure of his life. George and his neighbour Charles have long dreamt of a road trip, driving the 3500 kilometres that make up the stages of the Tour de France. And now that George’s over‐protective daughter has gone to South America, it’s time to seize the moment.
But just when he feels free of family ties, George’s granddaughter Adèle starts calling him from London, and he finds himself promising to text her as he travels around France, although he doesn’t even know how to use a mobile.
George is plagued by doubts, health worries and an indifference to modern technology. And yet – might the journey still prove to be everything he had hoped for? [from the publisher]


caroline-vermalleCaroline Vermalle was born in France in 1973 to a family whose French roots go back at least as far as the 16th century. Yet, she is a vegetarian who can’t cook, doesn’t drink, finds berets itchy and unpractical and would rather eat yesterday’s snails than jump a queue.

After graduating from film school in Paris, she became a television documentary producer for the BBC in London and traveled the world, at speed and off the beaten tracks, in search of good stories. In 2008, then on maternity leave, she penned her first novel George’s Grand Tour, whose international success allowed her to quit her job and indulge in her three passions: books, interior design and travel – slowly this time.

After writing seven novels in different genres and different languages, going on a world tour with her family and building a wooden house in a forest, Caroline now lives between a small seaside town in Vendée (France) and a small seaside town in the Eastern Cape (South Africa) with her son, a black cat and her husband, South African architect-turned-author Ryan von Ruben.

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8 thoughts on “Book review: George’s Grand Tour – I love France #149

  1. Pingback: 2015 Books in Translation Reading Challenge | Words And Peace

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  5. I applaud the positive take on modern modes of communication–not as a barrier but a bridge between people–and a novel that takes its characters on the road has so much natural potential, to roll along and really take readers somewhere too! This one sounds warmly wise and fun too!


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