Mr Gandy's Grand Tour by Alan Titchmarsh

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Mr Gandy's Grand Tour by Alan Titchmarsh

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Category: Women's Fiction
Rating: 3.5/5
Reviewer: Sue Magee
Reviewed by Sue Magee
Summary: A gentle easy read that's ultimately heart-warming and uplifting. A perfect beach read.
Buy? Yes Borrow? Yes
Pages: 320/9h42m Date: September 2016
Publisher: Hodder & Stoughton
External links: Author's website
ISBN: 978-0340953075

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Timothy Gandy lost his wife unexpectedly. One minute she was reaching up for the perfect serve and the next she was lying dead of a massive heart attack on the tennis court. It hadn't been the perfect marriage: the two had little in common, but Tim had stayed with his wife firstly for the sake of the children, then eventually for Isobel's sake and eventually because he realised that he would feel guilty if he left her. After the shock of her death came the realisation that he was 55, retired and could now do what he liked. And that was where the idea of the grand tour came from. He was going to take a leisurely trip around the cultural sights of western Europe and indulge himself.

His son, Oliver, was not pleased. He and his wife Vita thought that it was a ridiculous waste of money: his father could have a holiday much more cheaply without spending his inheritance. The feelings of his elder daughter, Alice were not known as she hadn't been in touch since her mother's funeral. His younger daughter, Rosie, was delighted. There's almost a touch of King Lear here! There's a feel of Michael Portillo too as Tim sets off on Eurostar, ancient Baedeker in hand, determined to do what he's never had the chance to do before.

It's inevitable that Tim should fall in with an attractive woman in Paris: Francine is fifteen years younger than him, but she's sympathetic and interested him. Tim (well, actually, he's called himself Tom as he thinks it sounds stronger) hasn't had a great deal of interest shown in him for much of his life and he's completely smitten - to the extent of loaning Francine €20,000. He's very reluctant to set off on his grand tour, but Francine persuades him that he should do it - and tell her all about it when he gets back.

If you've read Alan Titchmarsh's fiction before you'll know exactly what to expect: a gentle story involving the middle-aged middle class, with no violence or anything else extreme, culminating in a heart-warming finish - and that's exactly what he delivers in Mr Gandy's Grand Tour. You'll have to suspend disbelief on a couple of occasions - how completely he's smitten with Francine after knowing her for only a few hours is one. The other is the possibility of a Bank telling a child that they're worried because their father has spent €20,000. You'll just have to accept and move on, as the story doesn't work without those two events. And the plot isn't dreadfully strong - it's almost a series of short stories about the places he visits with an over-arching theme of Tim's coming to terms with the way that his life has changed.

I was pleasantly surprised by the characters though. When I read Bring Me Home I felt that some of the characters were a little two dimensional, but this time I was more impressed. Mr Gandy's Grand Tour isn't great literature, but if you're looking for a gentle beach read then this could be just the thing.

I'd like to thank the publishers for sending a copy to the Bookbag.

If this book appeals then you might also enjoy Under a Cornish Sky by Liz Fenwick or How to Find Love in a Book Shop by Veronica Henry.

Buy Mr Gandy's Grand Tour by Alan Titchmarsh at Amazon You could get a free audio download of Mr Gandy's Grand Tour by Alan Titchmarsh with a 30-day Audible free trial at Amazon.co.uk.


Mr Gandy's Grand Tour is narrated by Alan Titchmarsh as well as written by him.

Buy Mr Gandy's Grand Tour by Alan Titchmarsh at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Mr Gandy's Grand Tour by Alan Titchmarsh at Amazon.co.uk


Buy Mr Gandy's Grand Tour by Alan Titchmarsh at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Mr Gandy's Grand Tour by Alan Titchmarsh at Amazon.com.

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