When Tracy from Compulsive Readers invited me to take part in this blogtour, I just couldn’t resist. Not only is it set in France, a place I love to visit on holiday, but just look at that tagline on the cover – “La vie en rose begins at 50”. Well it just so happens that it’s my birthday today and guess which big birthday it is?? Oh and it’s publication day too so a great day for celebrations all round.
When a group of retired or semi-retired friends mostly in their fifties decide they are fed up with city life, they have the idea of buying a big country house and living together. After not quite finding what they are looking for in Britain, they buy a chateau in Normandy and head off excitedly to begin their new life. Well as you can imagine whenever a large group start to live together, however friendly they have been, it’s not quite la vie en rose. Problems arise almost immediately and it’s not all wine and roses.
As the friends settle into the French way of life before long old niggles, old jealousies, old attractions and old insecurities rear their heads. Very quickly there are unexpected difficulties and expenses, with plumbing issues, power cuts, roof repairs. Their French idyll is not quite as easy and laid back as they expected and the strain begins to show.
This was a really diverse group of characters to get to know. Interior designer Leo was a sweetheart and definitely my favourite. The only singleton of the group, he did make me smile with his way of talking and his love of beautiful (expensive!) things. It was interesting getting to know the group, finding out what made them tick and observing the changing dynamic of the group in their new surroundings.
Although you can guess at some of the things which will happen there are more than a few surprises along the way too. A Year in the Chateau is a light and entertaining read. It would be perfect holiday reading especially if you are going to France or have dreams yourself of living ‘la vie en rose’.
My thanks to Tracy Fenton for inviting me to be part of the tour and arranging a review copy. A Year in the Chateau is published today by Zaffre Books in paperback and ebook formats. You can order a copy online here: A Year at the Chateau
From the back of the book
When Nicola’s husband, Dominic, retires they decide not to spend their days finding hobbies to fill the time until Countdown is on. Instead, they fulfil their life-long fantasy of buying a country house and filling it with their dearest friends. Reliving their youth and spending their children’s inheritance.
Joined by seven of their friends they club together to invest in a château in Normandy. Group dinners, fine wine, beautiful scenery – they’re living the dream!
But la vie en rose is harder than it first appears. Is there a reason why only teenagers take gap years?
About the author
Sarah Long was raised in Essex, educated at Oxford and worked in publishing before moving to Paris with her husband and young children. She now lives in London with the same husband and most of her adult children, at the midlife stage that inspired her new novel Invisible Women.
She is the author of two previous novels, And What Do You Do? and The Next Best Thing, as well as Le Dossier of Hortense de Monplaisir or How to Survive the English, a helpful guide to understanding the ways of the British, as seen through the eyes of her snobbish Parisian alter ego.
Although now back in the motherland, she has failed to leave France behind, and spends as much time as possible at her house in rural Normandy, making jam, digging things up and watching the wildlife which often ends up, uninvited, indoors.