Wednesday, July 12, 2023

Blog Tour: A Month in Provence by Gillian Harvey


Nicky has been a widow for 10 years. In that time she has been the one responsible for raising her daughters, for being the sole provider, for being the strong one. Years previously she had studied interior design but she hadn't really used those skills for a while.

When her TV executive Jenny has a casting crisis she asks Nicky if it would be possible for her to go to Provence to work on a TV show. The idea is that Nicky will need to spend a month in Provence, helping a struggling B&B business to redecorate and revive their fortunes. For once, Nicky decides to take a chance and agrees.

She therefore finds herself in Provence near the town of Roussillon. The house is definitely in need of a refresh, as is the owner Robert. The online reviews of his B&B are terrible, and they haven't really been kind to him either. Nicky has her work cut out. 

As the work begins, the rules keep on changing. The timelines are shortened, the budgets slashed, the film crew drops in with very short notice. Nicky needs to learn her way around the town, find suppliers, which is not always easy to do on a miniscule budget.

For Robert, this B&B was a dream he shared with his deceased wife, Marie. In the years that he has been alone, he has stumbled through life, neglecting the house, barely being welcoming to his guests and his business has suffered as a result. 

We stayed in a gorgeous place in a small town in the Loire called Mer. The place was lovely. The room was stylishly decorated with all sorts of strategically placed items adding ambience and style. The breakfasts each day was divine, consisting of a mixture of local produce, freshly baked goods each morning and more. The host was charming with lots of great suggestions on how to spend our time. They made it look effortless, but just thinking about it suggests how much hard work it was. It's fair to say that this is not the experience that Robert was giving his guests. He sees this contest as his last throw of the dice. If this doesn't work, then he will probably need to give up and return to the UK. 

As the rules continue to change, Robert and Nicky have to work together to bring all the changes together from redecorating to reinventing the business website, creating relationships with local providers to reinvigorating their wardrobes. And of course there is the pressure from the TV crew as well. They prove their resourcefulness and resilience over and over, as they find themselves in various situations. 

Gradually Nicky begins to realise that maybe she doesn't have to be the sensible one. Maybe she can take some chances, and maybe, just maybe, this unexpected opportunity might open many doors for her. I really loved reading about her relationship with her daughters who are now grown up and independent. Nicky needed to realise that her daughters didn't need her as much as they used to. I wasn't as keen on her friend Jenny but I did come around at the end.

One of the things that I really liked about Nicky and Robert is that they are both widows, so they reallly understand each other, and that they are both expats. Normally you will read these new start stories and one will be moving from the UK but the other character will be French/Italian/Greek etc. I also liked that Nicky had been alone for a long time. Many times these stories feature women who have just recently separated from their partner, move to France and find true love in the space of 300 pages. Now, I am sure that happens in real life, but it wasn't how it was for me. Now admittedly, my ex didn't pass away, he just left, but it took me 1 years to find love. In fact it, took me 12 years to even kiss another man. I know I was slow, but I have ended up in a good place. However, this isn't a story that you read very often.

I also really enjoyed reading about the town of Rousllon. It sounds like a beautiful place on the pages of the book.  I did go and look at some pictures of the town and it did look gorgeous!

I have read several of Gillian Harvey's books now and have enjoyed them all. The ones I have read are all set in France and feature expat characters, an experience which the author has undertaken herself. I already know I will be reading her next book.

I am sharing this post with my fellow participants in Paris in July hosted at Words and Peace.

Thanks to the publisher, Netgalley and Rachels Random Resources 

About the book

A Month in Provence

Interior designer Nicky always used to know how to make the best of things. Ever since she lost her husband though, things haven’t been easy. She’s had to raise her two daughters alone and she’s so proud to see them all grown up, and she knows that’s down to her. But she can’t help but feel like she doesn’t know what to do with her life now…

But then her best friend begs her to help out. Jenny is a TV exec and her new renovation show is in peril. Only Nicky can help.

The catch – Nicky needs to fly to Provence… tomorrow. To renovate a tumbledown B&B. Jenny doesn’t mention the fact that the grumpy B&B owner Robert seems to need a makeover too. Or that the budget is next to nothing…

Will Nicky be able to turn the B&B’s fortunes around, save her friend’s job, and maybe even find some happiness for herself, under the blazing hot French sun this summer…?

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About the author

Gillian Harvey is a freelance journalist and the author of two well-reviewed women’s fiction novels published by Orion. She has lived in Limousin, France for the past twelve years, from where she derives the inspiration and settings for her books. Her first title for Boldwood, A Year at the French Farmhouse, will be published in September 2022.

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  1. Just missed getting this book on NetGalley by a day! A lovely contribution to Paris in July 2023 challenge!

    1. I have enjoyed all of her books I have read so far, so keep an eye out for her in future!

  2. I'm glad you enjoyed this book so much. I'm always on the lookout for good books set in France.

  3. I'm not usually drawn to romance fiction, but this one is set in Provence and Rousillon, and doesn't have the usual "broken-hearted-expat-finds-new-love-in-France" trope. So, I might be interested in this one. Thanks for the nice review!

  4. This sounds indeed like the perfect book for July in France! Great review, thanks

  5. Just stopping by to let you know that, thanks to your review/post, I’ve added this book to my wish list. I quoted a passage from this post and link it up in my post: :)