Title: A Year in the Chateau
Author: Sarah Long
Publisher: Zaffre Books
Publication Date: 5 March 2020
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?
A Year in the Chateau is a lighthearted and entertaining tale following 9 friends as they move to a run down chateau in the French countryside, looking for a new pace of life as they reach/approach retirement age. As you can imagine, their adventure is not all wine, Camembert and roses. Not only do they have dodgy plumbing and a leaky roof to contend with, there’s also the elderly former owner of the chateau who has no qualms in pinching anything that isn’t nailed down! As the friends come to terms with mounting expenses and simmering tensions, they can’t help but ponder whether their plan of an idyllic French life was too good to be true…
The author has provided a great cast for the story. From fusty academics, Dougie and Mary, to flamboyant designed Leo and social-media wannabe Fizz, they certainly are an eclectic mix and it is great fun getting to know each of the characters in turn. As the story flows, there are interesting changes in dynamic within the group as those characters find their place within their new household.
There are a few twists and turns within the plot which held my attention as the story meandered gently along. If I’m being completely honest, there were a few points within the story where something struck me as being somewhat unrealistic (such as whether the characters would really have bought a crumbling chateau in foreign lands without a full survey), however those issues were few and far between, and did not affect my overall enjoyment of the book.
A Year in the Chateau was the perfect choice for a lazy Sunday morning and I think it would make a great holiday read, particularly if vacationing in France. It is an easy and enjoyable read, which left me glued to my computer as I googled “French chateaus for sale”!!
Thanks to Zaffre Books for providing an advanced copy of this book for review.
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.