The French House by Nick Alexander
|The French House by Nick Alexander|
|Category: General Fiction|
|Reviewer: Sue Magee|
|Summary: Sequel to the well-received The Case of the Missing Boyfriend, but it reads well as a standalone and has a gripping plot.|
|Buy? Yes||Borrow? Yes|
|Pages: 432||Date: April 2013|
|External links: Author's website|
CC was trapped in a job she no longer felt able to do in a city which wasn't really her. Her boyfriend, Victor, had moved to France to live in a farmhouse he'd inherited and whilst giving everything up and moving out there to join him wasn't the most rational decision she'd ever taken it did feel like a step in the right direction. Only - there were a couple of problems. The south of France in January can be bitterly cold, particularly when you're a good way up a mountain. And it's going to feel even worse when the property you're going to lacks some of the most basic facilities - amongst them most of a roof.
It's about a year since I read The Case of the Missing Boyfriend which gives you the first part of CC's story. The French House works perfectly well as a standalone but you will get more out of it if you know where CC and her friends are coming from. She's already got one marriage and divorce under her belt and for a long time she'd worried that boyfriends were a bit thin on the ground - and everywhere else for that matter. So Victor isn't exactly the only man in the Last Chance Saloon, but CC feels that she really ought to give this relationship her best shot.
The couple are not completely alone on the mountain. Next door is Victor's aunt, Distira. She's not a particularly endearing character, but Victor's conscious that she's family and he's quick to dismiss CC's instinct that Distira has taken against her. Given all else that seems to be against them, can CC and Victor make a go of this relationship and of the farm?
I loved the fact that gay relationships feature as being perfectly normal and are seen to have their ups and downs in exactly the same way as heterosexual relationships. CC's best friend is Mark, who's gay and he - and his partner - came off the page well with a real sense of them being whole people. I rooted for CC too - and I would have loved to have heard more from her mother, who is about as infuriatingly self-centred as they come. The big personality in the book for me was that house - semi derelict, cold and damp with a seeming death wish.
The plot kept me reading late into the night. I had to find out exactly what was going on at the farm and whether or not CC and Victor could make a go of it. Before I began reading I did wonder if the story would really support 432 pages - but it did - and it did it with style. I'd recommend it as a good read for when you've got the time to laze and I'd like to thank the publishers for sending a copy to the Bookbag.
At the beginning I was put in mind of A Year in Provence by Peter Mayle but it doesn't have the same saccharine sweetness and there's certainly more of a true feel for the south of France. For more from Provence we can recommend Escape to Provence by Maureen Emerson.
You can read more book reviews or buy The French House by Nick Alexander at Amazon.co.uk.
You can read more book reviews or buy The French House by Nick Alexander at Amazon.com.
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