Published By: Lake Union
Released On: 01/09/2022
Evie’s running away: from her soon-to-be ex-husband’s shiny new life, from the devastating loss of her baby last year, from a memory-filled London and, most particularly, from Christmas. A remote cottage in the South of France seems like the perfect peaceful place to soothe her sorrows.
But the countryside soon proves anything but quiet, from the rooster crowing at dawn to the barn owl hooting through the night—not to mention Evie’s handsome neighbour, doctor Didier, who works away in his garage at all hours.
Unexpectedly, the sights and sounds of life amid the sparkling beauty of the Dordogne give Evie a renewed sense of inspiration, and with her French grandmother’s recipe book for company, she begins to rediscover her love of cooking. Soon, the tight-knit community begins to enfold her, reminding Evie what really matters in life.
But are Didier’s gorgeous blue eyes on more than Evie’s delicious dinners? And can a cancelled Christmas—complete with a Not-Christmas feast for two—heal her heart?
Thanks to NetGalley and Lake Union for the advanced copy of this title in return for an honest review.
“The Storyteller of Casablanca” was my first Fiona Valpy book, in 2021, and I thought the storytelling was spectacular so I expected much of the same with this, and it’s what I got.
It’s got everything I needed in a book; Christmas (okay, not always seen as a positive in the context), the French countryside, and delicious food. I’ve even noted down some of the festive French offerings mentioned for me to bake later – as it’s never too early to bake Christmas treats in my opinion.
I’ve never wanted to spend Christmas in a different country or by myself, but Fiona makes quite the convincing case, at least for some of the build up, or maybe in that weird in between time between Christmas and New Years, especially if it comes with a handsome neighbour.
I get the feeling that food – and French food in particular – is an important part of Fiona Valpy’s life. We can all talk about food and describe it, but to me, there are few authors who can concoct such a vivid image and I am happy to add Fiona to that list. There is a specific piece, about 25% of the way through, that reminds me so much of Charles Dickens’ description of festive food in A Christmas Carol, and if you’ve followed me for a while you’ll know that Dickens features at the top of every literary list for me.
It’s not all happiness and light. There are some very difficult topics – baby loss, death, grief, divorce. It is sad, I won’t say it’s not, but there’s a lovely balance to the happiness amidst the grief.
It’s a short book at about 200 pages, a quick read and I felt I could have read another 200 pages. I am so glad I have copies of the other two in the series (even if this one was meant to be #3; it doesn’t matter what order you read them in, but the festiveness drew me in first).