I love lists. Lists are handy to keep track of everything, including the essential steps for the perfect vacation. If I don’t write it down, I might forget I want a Suits marathon, or a karaoke night. And without karaoke, what’s the good in going on a holiday?
Title: Return toThe Little French Guesthouse
Author: Helen Pollard
Release date: August 26th 2016
In her second book, Helen Pollard invites us to spend a few days in a small French heaven for a well-deserved break. So I packed (heavily, as usual) and wrote a list of everything I am looking for in the perfect summer story, before diving head first into Return To The Little French Guesthouse. Now let’s see if our stay at La Cour Des Roses fits the criteria!
For a perfect summer holiday, you need:
#1 Lots of sun, a beautiful setting and the yummiest food
Who wants to get stuck in a dank basement with no view?
If you know me, you already know I am a creature of the cold. Yet, I enjoy summer days. In a limited number, with sunscreen and my favorite hat.
This book irradiates so much sunshine my vitamin D level is good for the next 12 months. The pages are filled with the warmth and scent of summer. Helen’s descriptions of the surroundings transport you once again to the gorgeous guesthouse. She captures the essence of the season and sparkles her story with it. I could picture the flowers, the shutters, the kitchen filled with people, the life going in and out of the house’s walls in that constant vibrant energy the holiday gives people and objects.
I wanted to lie down on one of those deck chairs and read all afternoon, I wanted to play with the
gardener dog, I wanted to help prepare the dishes. I enjoyed rediscovering the house, with its flaws, its new arrangements, and feel Emmy’s touch to the whole place. I did no feel like a stranger loitering around, but like a friend welcomed to a place that looked like a real home.
While I enjoy spending lazy days in a garden, most of us are expecting to discover the place where we choose to spend our vacation. Thankfully, the author knows France and the Loire region enough to treat you to a tour of the Château Chenonceau, the winding fields of vineyards, and the small roads of the countryside. As I said in my review of The Little French Guesthouse, I am always a little leery of foreigners choosing to set their story in my country, because clichés are never far and it is very hard to capture and understand the beauty of a place if you have never been there. But Helen Pollard knows France and her love for the country shines through. I had the feeling I was right there with Emmy, seeing with my own eyes the beauty of the places Helen chose to show us. Who said one needed to travel to see the world?
Having a barbecue on your own is no fun.
What had made the first book so special to me was the array of lively characters who inhabited the pages. I was so happy to meet them again as if no time at all had passed. When I picked the book, I was wondering if everyone would be here again and if the story would have a part to play for each of them. Well, everyone was here, and everyone had a say in the events. I really appreciated the development the author gave to every character, especially Jonathan and Ellie. I find it quite uncommon to have such a large number of different characters written so well, each bringing something different to the story. It is always difficult to find the right balance so that no one looks or sounds like a cardboard character, but no one was left outside in the rain.
Emmy and Rupert’s relation is as strong as ever, and I was moved by the respect and love they share, through the good and bad times. Emmy finding her place among this little world made me so happy, probably because I too made the jump to live abroad and discovered a family away from home. I was keen to know what would become of her love life and relieved to be treated with a real relationship, filled with hot moments and hard talks, tenderness and doubts. Every season is the season of love at Rupert’s!
#4 A hundred small disasters and bad news
Who says holiday says disaster. That is the way the world works. There’s always something going wrong, whether it is a burnt dish, a loud row, or a lost suitcase. You can’t escape it. Emmy and Rupert definitely have their share of bad news coming their way in Return To The Little Guesthouse. Running such a house requires flexibility and a decent amount of diplomacy and patience when dealing with clients. And of course, personal issues are never far away. We had left Emmy choosing a life à la française, with the promise of a new love relationship, a new career path, and plenty of hope. Now her dream has come true. She is in France, she works with Rupert, Alain will be back soon. Everything is perfect until an incident reminds her that her French is far from sufficient, that you are never far from a disaster stay that can impact your reputation, and that the past’s horror can resurface! I had no idea what to expect from the story as I had thought the first book would be a standalone. I was a little afraid of the characters being let down by a weak plot. There’s always a fear of the sequel being a disappointment. But then I was reminded I was in good hands. The fact everything does not go as planned was a relief to me. I did not want to read the world is pink and everything is solved in the blink of an eye. Life is a giant roller coaster with its good and bad days, and big life-changing decisions come with a cost, nights of doubts and unplanned hardships. I witnessed Emmy grow, test her feelings, and test herself in a genuine and moving way.
#5 Laughs and the best time of your life
I had no problem finding my way back to La Cour Des Roses. The easy and descriptive writing makes it hard not to fall for the wonderful characters all over again.
Return To The Little French Guesthouse is a refreshing, warm and sunny read that deserves a place on your bookcase. This is a tale of friendship, love and laughs that enables you to taste life à la française directly from your bed, couch, or from the bus that drives you to work.
You can find the author on:
WordPress: @ helenpollardwrites.wordpress.com
Many thanks to Bookouture for sending me a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.