L'Auberge by Julia Stagg
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
This book came labelled as Joanne Harris meets Clochemerle. It's a long long time since Clochemerle and I can barely remember it, but I love Joanne Harris, so this had a lot to live up to. Did it make the grade? Yes, I loved it. The Websters, the English couple who fell in love with a small part of France and wanted to make it their future, find reality hitting them in the face with the minutiae of French politics. Papon, the Mayor, makes a superb baddie but he's a 3D person, not just someone to boo every time he steps on to the page. The various facets of village life play out beneath the often unseeing eyes of the Websters who struggle with everything from the language to building regulations. Each member of the cast brings his or her own surprises as the different strands of everyone's life weave in and around each other towards the denouement, but don't think you know what's coming - there's a wonderful final twist. It's beautifully observed and written, and I'm not surprised to learn that tourists go looking for Fogas believing it to be a real place.
And the icing on the cake for me was the cat called Tomate. A real Joanne Harris touch.
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