Thursday, November 09, 2023

Blog tour: The French Chateau Escape by Gillian Harvey

We are big fans of the TV show Escape to the Chateau which features a resourceful British couple who pack up their life in Britain, buy a crumbling chateau and then proceed to do it up, whilst establishing a successful business and raising their family. It's easy, right?

Weeellllll. Not always. Emma and Mark bought into the French Chateau dream. After selling their home in Britain, they purchased a chateau that had been empty for 20 years with grand plans of turning it into a wedding location. Emma had experience in big hotels, but neither Emma or Mark had a lot of experience in renovating anything, let alone a chateau which needed work done from bottom to top. Another factor...neither of them spoke any French.

After moving into their new home, Emma and Mark quickly come to realise that this project is going to be far more challenging, and far more expensive than they expected. 

Life throws another challenge their way when Mark falls downs the stairs and has a complicated break in his leg and has to spend some time in a French hospital. Emma is now the one who has to make sure that the chateau will be ready in time for their first booking which is a mammoth undertaking.

Emma was quite sick as a child and as a result has been treated a bit like a princess, firstly by her dad and later by Mark. As an adult she has had quite a lot of anxiety, so for her to have to step outside of her comfort zone and be the one both making decisions and doing some of the physical work required was quite challenging. In addition, she and Mark have been trying unsuccessfully to get pregnant for quite some time, her dad back in the UK is deep in depression after the death of her mother, and she doesn't know anyone in France. There's a lot going on.

I really enjoyed the growth that we see in Emma throughout this book. When Mark is doubting the dream, it is Emma that comes up with possible solutions, Emma who finds a way forward, who finds the assistance needed and who comes up with an amazing idea on how to include the community in the life of the chateau. She is supported by her sister Rachel who is supportive but also who manages to tell Emma some home truths when she needs to hear them.

I have read a number of Gillian Harvey books now and I have enjoyed them all. This was no exception. Whilst the ones that I have read are all about finding a new life in France, they aren't all about completely ditching existing relationships and finding a dishy new French man to live happily after with. She writes about the challenges of starting a life in a new country,  about the misunderstanding that can occur due to language barriers and about the challenges of finding new friends. I'm sure it helps that this is something that she has experienced herself. I will be looking forwarded to her next book for sure.

Thanks to the publisher, Netgalley and Rachel's Random Resources for the opportunity to read and review this book as part of the blog tour. Be sure to check out other stops on the tour to see what others thought.

Rating 4/5

About the book

The French Chateau Escape

Click: buy... a fifteen bedroom chateau

Condition: ‘may require improvement’

It seems like a good idea. Sell everything we own. Swap our modern little London flat for an entire chateau in the middle of France.

It’s always been our dream. And now it’s coming true. Because who wouldn’t want this?

As I use the rusty key to open the big, creaking wooden door of the fairytale chateau that’s officially our new home, I wonder: what could possibly go wrong?

Turns out my grasp of the language isn’t brilliant but I’d guess that the French for this is probably: L’EVERYTHING.

As the French sun blazes overhead, one thing’s for sure: it’s going to be a year to remember...

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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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