A French Affair, the latest romantic comedy by Katie Fforde, is like comfort food in a book. It is a story about marrying the old and the new, about bringing a splash of modern to the dated, and about encouraging fresh starts. It is a story about the English countryside, antiques markets, and mansions. It is also a story that is a light, entertaining, and enchanting page-turner.
Sisters Gina and Sally Makepiece have inherited the unexpected from their Aunt Rainey - a stall in a Cotswold antiques centre called the French House. Gina’s tenacious will makes her determined to do whatever it takes to see their inheritance thrive, in spite of not knowing even the first thing about antiques. Soon, she is using her PR skills (her real job) to give the French House itself a nudge into the twenty-first century. Gina’s efforts are met with resistance at every turn by Matthew Ballinger, owner of the French House. The grumpy Matthew’s world is turned upside-down by the whirlwind that his beloved friend Rainey has engineered to arrive on his doorstep. Instructed in her will to assist the Makepiece sisters, there is no escaping this collision for Matthew.
One of the biggest perks of being a book reviewer: I have the fortune of discovering authors like Katie Fforde. Her turn of phrase is witty and unique, and in A French Affair her characters, both main and supporting (Oscar included), are delightfully engaging. Getting to know the heroine felt like getting to know my best friend and, as a fan of the original Chick Lit novel, Pride and Prejudice, I enjoyed Matthew’s rather Darcyesque traits. The antique dealing focal point of the book was fresh and interesting, and had me ready to get up before dawn to find an antiques market, and Fforde creates such a perfect image of the French House, I felt like I was standing in the middle of it. As with all stories of this genre, there is a bit of predictability to the storyline, but Fforde has ensured there are plenty of surprise elements to keep the reader guessing.
Overall, this uplifting feel-good story makes for the perfect escape for a few hours on a rainy day, or chilly night (or any other time). This is some great British Chick Lit, and fans of the genre will adore this little gem! As for me, I am off to seek out more of Katie Fforde’s lovable characters.
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