After reading other Fiona Walker books which I absolutley love I knew I had to read it and going off her other books I knew it would be a good read!
Tash French ( the main character) is one many people can relate to - normal, clumsy, doesnt always get it right but is completley loveable. There are quite a few characters set on a big family holiday- some far too gorgeous, some annoying, others eccentric which all combined together makes for a humerous read which had me laughing out loud at times.
I was hooked from the first chapter and found it hard to put it down and kept saying to myself 'just one more chapter'. I didnt want the story to end but looked forward to reading the follow on 'Well groomed'.
An fun, easy read whether on the beach in summer or curled up in bed in winter.
"A sizzling summer read" promises the quote on the front of this novel. Well, the temperatures of late have been far from sizzling, but this book proved the perfect antidote to the winter blues. As a late Christmas present, I was given it on New Year's Day after saying how much I'd enjoyed another book by this author. I finished it within four days - huddled in front of the fire, eeking out the last of the winter break before the dreaded return to the office.
Allowing pure escapism into a world where men are handsome and noble, and dreams really do come true, the book rattles along at a good pace as it documents a family holiday in France - but this family is far from average!
Tash French plays the part of our typical chick lit heroine - unlucky in love, unfashionable, overshadowed by her glamorous family, and terribly unsure of herself. Why do chick lit heroines invariably fit this description anyway? Is it because we are all secretly insecure and think: 'well, if this woman can get her happily-ever-after, maybe we all can'?
Invited to her mother's home in the Loire valley for the summer, Tash joins an assorted collection of eccentric family members and hangers on for a holiday of sun and horse riding... with a does of partner-swapping thrown in for good measure. There are a lot of characters, some more fully developed than others, and I did find myself flicking back to remember who some of them (particularly the children and local residents) were and how they related to the main protagonists.
The dialogue between the characters is what really makes this novel so engaging. Just about everyone has a secret agenda, and lots of comments are veiled hints and witty quips. Does anyone ever say these things in the real world? Oh, to be able to come up with such sparkling wit and devastating put downs in an instant, and not three hours later...
Much of the plot is quite predictable and formulaic. I actually made notes about how I thought the book would end once I was a few chapters in - and I was largely proven right, but there was the odd unexpected twist that I didn't see coming, which was enough to keep me turning the pages. Some of the parallels with Jilly Cooper novels were a bit too much at times, a bit more originality would not go amiss. As the novel was published in 1994, some of the fashion references are now woefully outdated, but this did not detract from the story as a whole.
As a bit of a horsey geek, I must point out that the horse sub-plot was a big factor in aiding my enjoyment of the novel. However, some of the factual inaccuracies would be rather grating to those with plenty of equestrian experience. The idea that someone can win a one-day event despite jumping the wrong fences on the cross-country is ludicrous, as those of us who have been eliminated for such an error know only too well.
Despite these reservations, the novel paints a wonderful picture of a world, and people, we wish could exist... and we finish with the sad conclusion that it is all just make-believe.
It's a summer of love in this Fiona Walker book. A family party held my Alexandra French, brings together the family again in their magical old French villa. With the sun beating down at least one couple will fall in love, and it might not be with who you expect. Thrown in for good measure are the misadventures of Tash French and her new horse snob, as they battle to be ready for the equestrian event.
This book is perfect for the beach or poolside on a hot day. Sometimes it is very hard to follow becuase there are that many characters (Tash, Alexandra, Pascal, Matty, Sally, Amanda, Hugo, Ben, Sophia, Marcus, Michael, Cass, Olly, Ginger, Valerie, Jean, Todd, Algy, Wiltsher, Max, Lauren, Eddie, Lucian....to name but a few) I have to admit the book is quite hard to get into but a large part of the book is dedicated to the large family party, that brings fun and frolics and some heart breaking too.....A must Read!
I must admit straight away that I tend to drift towards being a romantic. And although I tend to readily pick up any book that suggests a happy loved up ending, I usually get bored of the same old story mid way and it invariably ends up on the 'to be finished' pile. However, this book screams out its originality. Full of delerious sexed up scenes that will keep you day dreaming for hours, this book is one that can not be put down. Fiona Walker goes one step beyond Jilly Cooper, as she not only keeps her female readers constantly in drippy awe but manages to replace Jilly's horrid and mean characters with gorgeous cruel men who in the end we all end up loving and wishing they were ours!
The 'heroin' of the book is Tash, a character harvesting all the self-doubts of being a woman. Feeling fat, ugly, and unable to attract or keep a guy, Tash goes to stay with her mother in her beautiful chateau in France. Here she finds not only a drugged up sexy actor but also the hugely gorgeous and overbearing heart-throb of her past and teen crushes, Hugo. A man who's descriptions will leave you breathless.
Fiona Walker has managed to write a book that will make women everywhere giggle, blush, and awwww throughout. A real keeper. Definately my favourite book of all time!! I always find myself drifting into naughty fantasies with the male characters of this book!
Before I begin explaining the plot of this book let me take you back a few weeks to Mothers Day. Why you ask? Well this was when a dilemma faced me regarding my favourite Author Fiona Walker. After making huge hints to my husband about the books I have yet to buy that Fiona Walker has wrote I patiently waited for my new book as a gift for Mothers Day. The previous night I decided to go Tesco shopping (stick with me here there is a point to all of this) and found a reduced book for £2.99 written by, yes I bet you can guess who by. It was previously priced at £5.99. The shopping list went out the window so to speak, as I was so happy with my bargain that I just wanted to race home and show my husband. When I did just that, his face dropped, he had bought that particular book for Mothers Day from the children. After some time of complaining about the great big hints I had left and then I go out and buy myself a book anyway, he sulkily told me that I would have to take one of them back. So I did. Heading into town a couple of days later, remember my bargain I could not take that back so I returned theirs priced at £3.99 as this was on offer too. I found the Fiona Walker section easy as my young son ran and told me where daddy had grabbed the book. Once there I noticed one book remaining of which I had not yet read called “Well Groomed”. At home I was in the middle of reading “French Relations”, this was the first ever book she had wrote. Like you do, I start reading the back just to give me a brief idea of the plot, and to my dismay it was a continuation of the book I was reading and virtually told me everything I needed to know that could ruin my current read. Typical, so this is why I gave you a boring insert into my rather unorganised life. If you have never read this authors work she does come highly recommended by me of course, and below I have listed the books which follow previous ones so as you do not have
the same problem as I did. As I said “French Relations” is her first book and the continuation story is contained in “Well Groomed”. “Snap Happy” was another great read and this was continued by the book called “Between Males” of which I have yet to read. Other titles are “Kiss Chase” which is definitely my favourite to date and I have read most of her books now and unfortunately there is no continuation book, so I do hope she goes into “Dooyoo” and decides to write one. Another good read was called “Lucy Talk” which is her latest and out in bookshops and Tesco’s priced at £9.99 in hardback. A silly little thing that I have noticed is that most of her book covers contains a dog on the front, of which I have no idea why and quite often one of her other titles laying casually left around the floor on the front cover (good promotion idea). Also legs of a male and female, sometimes under covers with toes peering out or interlocking underneath tables can be found. Now I have gone on considerably about everything but the book here goes. ~~~~ French Relations ~~~ The main character is called Tash French and as very much like all the other main female characters Fiona Walker has written about she is extremely “drippy”. Her personality made the book very frustrating at times, which of course is what the author had intended. She had very low self-esteem and was constantly tripping over various items. At the beginning it was fairly funny but some time through the book I had get a little cheesed off with it. She was quite a scruffy character and did not really care about her appearance at all, her clothes were usually out of date and she made very little effort in keeping herself clean and tidy. It was quite often said that her hair was sticking up everywhere and that she smelt of horse. Her boyfrie
nd called Max left her to move to America without really explaining why and he later pops up into the book to add to her already chaotic love life. ~~ The Plot ~~ The lovely Alexander, (Tash’s Mother) had organised for all her family to visit her in France, she lived there with her current husband Pascal, whom was always socially drunk, I say this because he was a nice character but got the wine out at every opportunity. He worshipped Alexander and would do anything for her to make her happy. Also living there was their young daughter Polly. The first chapter was about Tash travelling to France and takes you through the chaotic way in which she got there. The first lines says it all “”Ohmygod, I’ve forgotten my passport”. The next few chapters follows all the other family members and their friends all heading for the Manior, as they call it in France. Matty, Sally and the children are on their way in a heap of rust and metal. Matty is Tash’s brother and although his Mother has a substantial amount of money he is too proud to accept charity and plods along broke and is quite a miserable character, unlike his wife Sally who is funny, sweet and has the patience of a saint. The children are a bit unruly but pleasant enough. Sophia, Ben and children, this is Tash’s sister are heading their too along with their friends Hugo and Amanda and her childrens nanny called Paolo. Sophia married into money as Ben is an heir to a huge estate and Sophia can only be described as “Shallow and stuck up”. Hugo is one of the “dishes” in the book, and his relationship with Amanda is somewhat strained. The whole story is based around the “Manior” and mainly consists of them drinking loads and lazing about. Tash is the least selfish person of Alexander’s children and because her mother feels pity for her, due to her low opinion of herself, she
and Pascal buy Tash a horse, as a youngster Tash loved riding. She names the horse “Snob” who is rather disobedient and spends most of the story biting her and chucking her off his back in a variety of places. Hugo later steps in to help her control the horse; he only does it for his own amusement as he finds her a little odd but in a strange way he is attracted to her. Another main character is a suffering Irish actor called Niall. He is a friend of her brother Matty and he was brought there to recover from a disastrous marriage to a selfish lady called “Lisette” who appears later on in the book. Niall is the other “dish” of the book. As always the main character is fancied by all the men, blissfully unaware of this and the book takes you through disaster after disaster through lack of understandings. ~~ The Party ~~ A huge party organised by Sophia was arranged to celebrate Alexander’s brother Eddie, coming over to visit from America. The party gets a little out of hand financially and goes ahead without Eddie who arrives a day later with his new wife, child and a couple of friends, one of which is Max (Tash’s ex). Also staying at the Manior is Cass and family, Alexander’s snooty sister. Marcus who is Cass’s son arranges his own rave in the barn and he and his friend Wiltshier pass the word around that it will be very “hip”. Most of the book details all the arrangements made and nothing is spared and a lot unfolds at the party which the reader had already guessed would happen. If you are a horse lover (unlike me) you will enjoy the parts relating to Tash and her horse, I found this all a bit long winded as it takes you through the training of the horse and also and the riding event that she enters. Tash throughout the whole book never really stands up for herself and is quite often drunk which leads her into
being bullied into getting engaged to her ex-boyfriend Max and she tries to find a way of telling his she doesn’t love him without hurting him. She shouldn’t bother as he is completely selfish and only wants her because her family have money and everyone else fancies her. Tash has always fancied Hugo from a far but when the opportunity arises between the two of them left together she realises that she only really likes him as a friend and really desires Niall instead. Confused yet, it just one of those stories when you just have to be there to get the plot. The ending like always is what you expect to happen although rather long winded, but also nice and romantic. To sum up I would say that it was a good read, not one of her best but still I had times where I was unable to put the book down. Fiona Walker does have a very unique writing technique whereby she keeps the reader extremely frustrated by the constant misunderstandings yet still has the ability to keep you on edge throughout. My only grumble about the author is, book after book the main female characters are extremely stupid I know this sounds a bit harsh but after several books I have read of hers its wearing thin and they are always constantly drunk. I really would like a different character for a change, maybe a harder one that could be softened up a bit. Worth a thought Fiona !!
Tash French takes the unusual step of joining her eccentric family on summer holiday in the Loire region. But will it be a summer of love?