Tuesday 31 August 2021

Guest Review: Celebrations at the Chateau by Jo Thomas

When their grandfather dies, Fliss and her sisters are astonished to inherit a French chateau! Travelling to Normandy to visit the beautiful if faded house, they excitedly make plans over delicious crepes and local cider in the town nearby.

But they soon discover the chateau needs major work, a huge tax bill is due . . . and there's a sitting tenant to whom they owe a monthly allowance.

Unable to sell but strapped for cash, Fliss determines to spruce up the elegant old rooms and open a B&B. But, why is Jacques, the local mayor, so hostile? How did Fliss's grandfather come to own the place anyway? And will Jacques and Fliss be able to put their differences aside to save the chateau?

Inspired by Escape to the Chateau, this cosy and uplifting novel to curl up with, from the author of Escape to the French Farmhouse and Finding Love at the Christmas Market.

Review: I always look forward to reading a book from Jo Thomas; they inevitably hold the promise a trip to somewhere new and exciting accompanied by some tasty food and drink, and hopefully romance. As the title suggests, this one takes the reader on a trip to France and the lovely building pictured on the cover. As expected, I found it a captivating story that I finished very quickly.

When Fliss and her sisters, Nellie and Lizzie, travel to Normandy to view the house they have unexpectedly inherited from their grandfather, they are amazed to find that they are now the owners of a spectacular, if slightly rundown, chateau. Nobody in the family had any idea that their grandfather owned this grand residence, and the sisters are all keen to find out how he had come to buy it in the first place. While the others return home, Fliss stays behind to organise the sale of the chateau, but is met with problems. A sitting tenant who needs to be paid a monthly salary and a huge tax bill due any time mean that it cannot be sold. If the payments are missed, ownership of the building will revert to its previous inhabitants. Fliss decides to clean up and repair the chateau and try to run it as a bed and breakfast property, but is met with resistance from the town mayor, Jacques, and many of the  local town’s business people. It appears that she must find a way to win them round if she is to succeed in returning the chateau to its former outstanding appearance and run a flourishing business.

I was quickly drawn into this compelling tale of the once magnificent chateau and the sisters’ attempts to keep their grandfather’s property in the family. I loved the way in which the mystery over how the man had come to buy the chateau and his link with the area is gradually solved as the story progresses. There are so many surprises in store for Fliss as she tries to overcome the many obstacles that arise during her attempts to find a way to make the chateau pay for its upkeep. Only once some of its secrets are revealed can she make significant headway. I admired her determination to keep forging ahead in the face of resistance from the local people, and in particular mayor Jacques. I wasn’t sure what to make of him, or his grandmother Charlotte to start with, but warmed to both as Fliss got to know them. Since the story is set in France, there is, of course, lots of delicious food and drink mentioned in the story. There is a particular link with cider, as the chateau’s orchard produces apples that are famous for their cider-making properties. This is a book that I can certainly recommend, with its lovely setting, interesting characters, air of mystery, and, of course, promise of romance.

To order your copy now, just click the link: UK or US

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