Saturday, April 27, 2024

Weekend Cooking: The French Cookery School by Caroline James


Before I start, just a quick note. You may have noticed that things look a bit different around here. I have finally done the blog makeover that I have been thinking about for years. The design literally went live overnight so things might look a bit odd while I sort things out!



When Waltho Williams finishes renovating his chateau it is a bitter sweet moment. He bought the property, knowing that it needed a lot of work, with his partner, but he has had to finish the project himself. He decides to use his newly renovated spaces to run a cooking school. He recruits a semi-famous chef, Daniel, who needs the money spending a week teaching will give him, and a sous chef, not really knowing how the week will go.  

Luckily the week becomes fully booked, and so the participants arrive. They come from all walks of life. There is uptight Caroline, larger than life Fran and unlucky in love journalist Sally, amongst other characters who come together to learn more about France and it's food.

When I was trying to think of a word to describe Caroline, at first I was thinking stand-offish, but I don't think that is a strong enough word. Just before her trip she has found out that not only has her husband been unfaithful and leaving her, but he has pretty much cleaned her out financially as well. She is therefore on the brink of losing everything - both professionally and personally. She is one of those people who always look perfectly put together, elegant. She is, however, distant, and she is constantly aware that she needs to watch every morsel that passes her lips so that she doesn't put on an ounce of weight.

Fran is at the cooking school to see if she has what it takes to help make her husband's dream of a fine dining restaurant come true. It will be a long way from their current business which is a successful fish and chip shop. She is exuberant, dresses in loud clothes - the very antithesis of Caroline. It's no wonder they clash.

And then there is journalist Sally. She has recently broken up with someone, and so she is focussing solely on work. She is spending the week getting material to write a series of stories about attending a cooking school. The last thing that she needs is to get distracted by a handsome chef.

There was so much to love about this book. I loved reading all about the lessons, where the chef put the class through their paces, each of them making something to contribute to the next meal. Some of the dishes sounded a-maz-ing. I also loved reading about the adventures the group went on in the nearby area, seeing the sites. I wasn't super keen on Caroline, but I guess you weren't meant to be.

I am sure that I am not alone in thinking that spending a week learning to cook at a beautiful French chateau sounds like the epitome of luxury. I am not sure it would ever happen as it is an expensive exercise, but a girl can dream right? 

When we visited France early last year we stayed in what the owner called a chateau in a tiny town outside of Bloise. I couldn't help but think about that experience as I read this book, particularly the section which talked about the breakfasts! They were amazing.

This is my first Caroline James book, and I will definitely read more.

I am sharing this review with the New Release Challenge hosted at The Chocolate Lady's Book Reviews and with Foodies Read hosted at Based on a True Story

Be sure to check out other stops on the blog tour and see what they have to say about this book.

Thanks to Netgalley, the publisher and Rachel's Random Resources for the review copy.

Rating 4.5

About the book

The French Cookery School

Mix together a group of mature students:

A culinary Sloane, a take-away cook and a food journalist.

Add in:

A handsome host

Season with:

A celebrity chef

Bring to the boil:

At a luxurious cookery school in France!

Waltho Williams has no idea what he’s letting himself in for when he opens the doors of La Maison du Paradis, his beautiful French home. But with dwindling funds, a cookery school seems like the ideal business plan.

Running away from an impending divorce, super-snob Caroline Carrington hopes a luxurious cookery holiday will put her back on her feet. Blackpool fish and chip café owner Fran Cartwright thinks she’s won the lottery when her husband Sid books her on a week working alongside a celebrity chef. Meanwhile, feeling she is fading at fifty, journalist Sally Parker-Brown hopes her press week covering the cookery course will enable her to boost her career.

But will the eclectic group be a recipe for success, or will the mismatched relationships sink like a souffle?

Whip out an apron, grab a wooden spoon and take a culinary trip to La Maison du Paradis, then sit back and enjoy The French Cookery School!

Purchase Link

About the author–

Caroline James always wanted to write, but instead of taking a literary route, followed a career in the hospitality industry, which included owning a pub and a beautiful country house hotel. She was also a media agent representing celebrity chefs. When she finally glued her rear to a chair and began to write, the words flowed, and several novels later, she has gained many bestseller badges for her books.

The French Cookery School is Caroline’s tenth novel. Previously, The Cruise, described as: ‘Girl power for the over sixties!’ was an Amazon Top Ten Best Seller. Caroline’s hilarious novels include The Spa Break and The Best Boomerville Hotel, depicted as ‘Britain’s answer to the Best Marigold Hotel’.

She likes to write in Venus, her holiday home on wheels and in her spare time, walks with Fred, her Westie, or swims in a local lake. Caroline is a member of the Romantic Novelists Association, the SOA, ARRA and the Society of Women’s Writers & Journalists. She is also a speaker with many amusing talks heard by a variety of audiences, including cruise ship guests.

Books by Caroline James:


The French Cookery School

The Cruise

The Spa Break

Hattie Goes to Hollywood

Boomerville at Ballymegille

The Best Boomerville Hotel

Coffee Tea the Gypsy & Me

Coffee Tea the Chef & Me

Coffee Tea the Caribbean & Me

Jungle Rock



Twitter: @CarolineJames12

Facebook: Caroline James Author

Insta: Caroline James Author

Weekly meals

Saturday -  Chilli and rice
Sunday -  Nothing
Monday - Chilli and Potato
Tuesday - Spicy Pork and Beans
Wednesday - 
Thursday - Out for dinner
Friday - Out for dinner

Weekend Cooking is open to anyone who has any kind of food-related post to share: Book reviews (novel, nonfiction), cookbook reviews, movie reviews, recipes, random thoughts, gadgets, quotations, photographs, restaurant reviews, travel information, or fun food facts. If your post is even vaguely foodie, feel free to grab the button and link up anytime over the weekend. You do not have to post on the weekend. Please link to your specific post, not your blog's home page


  1. Your new blog layout looks great.
    This sounds like a great book!

  2. Thank you so much for you very kind review. Wishing you and your visitors many happy reading hours. Warmest wishes, Caroline xx

    1. Thanks for stopping by Caroline. I look forward to reading more of you books.

  3. Replies
    1. Thanks Melynda! And thanks again for creating the button for Weekend Cooking that we used for a few years

  4. Thanks for the review. The new design is too large for my screen and I cannot see how to change it on my end. The margins cut off the first and last letters of each side.

    1. Thanks for the feedback I have reached out to the blog designer to see what I can do about that.