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The Girl in the Empty Dress
This book counts for the following Reading Challenges:
MY THOUGHTS ABOUT THIS BOOK
A mystery in the neat French region of Dordogne? How was I going to resist reading this book? I could not, and this was indeed a very delightful read.
Merle and her sisters Annie, Francie, Stasia and Elise spend some vacation time in Dordogne, where Merle bought a house, and they decide to go on a walking tour together. They are joined by Gillian, Francie’s friend. The girl though does not fit and seems weird. On their way, they find a dog in a ditch, injured. Gillian decides to take care of him, and then one day, Gillian and the dog disappear!
Not to reveal any spoiler here, but around the same time, Jean Poutou, 82, reports a stolen dog. It happens to be his favorite truffle hunting dog. These are very precious in France, as truffles are very hard to find and cost a lot of money.
I really enjoyed the suspense around the truffle business, the dog, and the weird Gillian. And things get more complex and involved than they first look.
There are also lots of neat details about this French region, and I liked the connection between Merle and her older neighbors, just like in the old days in my own French village.
The cool elements related to computer geeks and how they manage to find things about people added a fun modern touch to the whole thing.
For those who like books with family relationship, there are neat things about the 5 sisters. And for those who love romance, there’s some of that too, with the charming Pascal, french, Merle’s previous summer flirt, and James whom she had been dating more recently.
Part of the mystery is written through blog posts, whose author we discover late in the book. This didn’t really do anything to me, and I could have done without them.
VERDICT: Part mystery part romance, this delightful read takes you deep into the Dordogne region and the very lucrative truffle hunting business. Great way of getting to know an interesting facet of France… and beyond!
WHAT IS IT ABOUT
It is the sequel to Blackbird Fly, but can be read as a stand-alone.
Merle Bennett and her sisters go on a walking tour on the backroads of the Dordogne. When they come across an injured dog their idyllic summer tour takes a dark turn. Who is this dog that everyone wants so badly? And who is this friend one sister brought along, the one without a history? Truffles, romance, wine, and intrigue in the French countryside. [provided by the author]
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
is the author of ten novels written as Lise McClendon and thrillers as Rory Tate.
Her suspense novel Blackbird Fly was released in 2009 and was an Amazon bestseller.
She lives in Montana when not walking the back-roads of France.
And now I have the pleasure to present an
INTERVIEW WITH LISE McCLENDON
1. Lise, I am delighted to have the opportunity to interview you.
Hunting is a popular sport in France,
and one with considerable business opportunity is hunting for truffles!
I don’t think it’s as popular in the US.
How did you come with the idea about the truffle dog hunter Aurore?
Mushrooming is popular in the US – I just had a feast of wild morels picked in Montana… but truffles are rare in the US.
There are some in Oregon, and some people are “planting” them for (hopefully) future harvests.
I got the idea for the stolen truffle dog from a ‘Sixty Minutes’ television news piece about truffles.
One small part of it was about a man who had his dog stolen. He had searched endlessly for the dog but there was never a trace. It was pretty sad, obviously he felt deeply for his dog – as we all do. I got the idea of using the stolen dog as a jumping off place for a novel, with all sorts of people looking for the dog: the thieves themselves, the police, other truffle hunters. Then I mixed it into the story of the Bennett sisters and their oddball friend finding the dog alongside a road in the Dordogne. And we’re off!
2.Why did you choose France for your book setting?
I wrote my first Bennett Sisters book five years ago [Blackbird Fly]. At that time I thought I would write a book about each sister — and I still might! But I love France so much, and the setting seemed to resonate with readers, so I went back again. I took a walking tour of Burgundy with five friends a couple years ago, that was the impetus to get the sisters back in France.
3. What’s the origin of your book title?
Strangely, I dreamed that title: The Girl in the Empty Dress. Like many writers I struggle with titles and second-guess myself. But this one, which focuses on the friend, Gillian Sargent, who is vacationing with the sisters, just popped into my head. I ran it by some of my beta readers and they all loved it. So I kept it.
4. Looks like Dordogne may be your favorite region of France. What do you like most about it?
I love southwest France. It is the least populated, and least tourist-y, part of France. (It has tourists though 🙂 )I love the history of the area, the bastide towns with their ancient walls, the wine and truffles and foie gras. It’s a varied region, with mountains and rivers and gorges and forests. Something for everybody!
5. Any out of the beaten path places you would recommend to a tourist going for the first time in Dordogne?
You can’t go wrong with Monpazier, the town that I based “Malcouziac” on in the books. An ancient walled city, great food, small and walkable. Sarlat is also charming, with a great market. Rocamadour, which hangs on the side of a cliff, is dramatic and enticing.
6. When shall we able to read more about Merle and her sisters? Will they still be in France?
I’m working on another Bennett Sisters book. Merle will definitely be back in France in the future. Will it be in this book? All I can say is Pascal will definitely be there. That should make a few readers happy.
HAVE YOU READ THIS BOOK YET?
DID YOU READ ANY OTHER GOOD ROMANCE SET IN FRANCE?
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