Au revoir old life, Bonjour Brittany!
Parisian prima ballerina Suzette knows it’s time to hang up her pointe shoes before her next injury ruins her ankles for good. But dancing is all she’s ever known and she’s terrified of who she’ll be after that final curtain falls.
Meanwhile, lonely Londoner Libby is pouring her life savings into buying an auberge that she and her late husband had loved visiting on holiday. It’s a huge risk that could leave her broke…as well as broken-hearted.
And then there’s Brigitte who’s retired to the village for a slower pace of life, but who dreads seeing someone else run her beloved auberge.
Three fresh starts…one unforgettable summer!
Last year I had the great pleasure of discovering the lovely writing of Jennifer Bohnet. I thought The Little Kiosk By The Sea was really something rather special (you’ll find my review here) and I’ve been delighted to see that rather a lot of people seem to agree with me. It’s now approaching 100 5-star reviews on Amazon UK, and thoroughly deserves every one. At the back of Kiosk were a few chapters of A French Pirouette, and I did mention at the time that I wanted to read on and find out what happened to Libby as she took on the auberge…and now I have. And do you know, this book was every bit as lovely.
I’m going to digress – as I often do. Have I ever mentioned that – as a child – I had a dream of being a ballerina? I had the poise and build of a small elephant, but I still think I could have made the grade if I’d had the right encouragement (instead of the stifled laughter that greeted my efforts). As Suzette bathes her calloused feet, wondering what will become of her when she retires from the ballet, it put a smile on my face and took me right back… and I was hooked from the opening pages, transported into a different little world.
The characters in this book are wonderful. Suzette herself tugs at your heartstrings as she struggles to recover from a bruising fall that might end her dancing career sooner than she planned – she needs a refuge where she can hide out for a while, decide what she plans to do. Libby has her scars too – the sudden death of her husband, a daughter moving on with a new life of her own, fears about her future, but taking on the auberge in Brittany as her fortieth birthday approaches offers her a fresh start along with a whole new set of challenges. And then there’s Brigitte and Bruno, handing over the reins of the auberge to Libby, wondering exactly what the future might hold for them. Throw into the mix two gorgeous and available men – one who runs a garden centre but has a rather unfortunate controlling mother, the other the handsome and rather smooth local vet – and you have the makings of a perfect story just waiting to be told.
And the author tells it so well. Her characters are totally real, people you might just know – I particularly loved Libby and Suzette, and really wanted them both to have the happy endings they deserved. And she is so very good at creating a sense of place. The auberge and its grounds become totally real with her vivid and detailed descriptions – I’d really like to move into the gite alongside the auberge, especially after the little extra touches added by its new resident. She has a gentle flowing style that’s so easy to read, and a natural storyteller’s skill in weaving together the different threads of her story. There’s romance here, but there are also lies and a bit of deception, family issues, problems to be overcome – but it’s all wonderfully gently done, nothing that’s going to really upset your escape into the Brittany countryside, sheer enjoyment from beginning to end.
OK, so I read it on a grey and wet day in Yorkshire – but this really would be a perfect book for an afternoon in the sun, maybe with a glass of wine to hand (would an accordion player in the background be too much, do you think?). It’s a teeny bit lighter than The Little Kiosk I thought – maybe slightly fewer threads to the story – but it’s a simply gorgeous read all about healing, starting over, putting away the past and moving forward. And I loved every single moment.
A French Pirouette is published for kindle by Carina, and is currently available for 99p via Amazon UK, GooglePlay and iBooks. What’s more, The Little Kiosk By The Sea is available for 99p too – again via Amazon UK, GooglePlay and iBooks.
With thanks to the author, I’m really delighted to be able to offer lucky readers the chance to win not just one, but two signed books. Continuing the French theme, the books available are French Legacy and Rendezvous in Cannes – and the books will be sent out by the author (Europe only please).
Here’s the rafflecopter for entry to win a signed copy of French Legacy:
a Rafflecopter giveaway
And here’s the rafflecopter for entry to win a signed copy of Rendezvous in Cannes:
a Rafflecopter giveaway
Jennifer Bohnet is originally from the West Country but now lives in the wilds of rural Brittany. The saying ‘Life is what happens while you’re deciding what to do’ is certainly true in her case. She’s always written alongside having various jobs: playgroup leader, bookseller, landlady, restauranteur, farmer’s wife, secretary/PA – the list is endless but does provide a rich vein of inspiration for her stories.
Allergic to housework and gardening she rarely does either but she does like cooking and entertaining and wandering around vide greniers (the French equivalent of flea markets) looking for a bargain or two. Her children currently live in fear of her turning into an ageing hippy and moving to Totnes, Devon.
To find out more about Jennie, do keep an eye on her website, like her Facebook page or chat to her on Twitter.