ShortBookandScribes #BookReview – Celebrations at the Chateau by Jo Thomas

My review today is of Celebrations at the Chateau by Jo Thomas, one of my favourite authors. My thanks to Ruth Richardson at Transworld for the proof copy of the book for review purposes.

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.

They soon discover the chateau needs major work and a huge tax bill is due . . . Unable to sell but strapped for cash, Fliss determines to spruce up the elegant old rooms and open a B&B.

But Jacques, the handsome town mayor, is opposed to her plan. When it becomes clear that the only way to save the magnificent castle is to work together, Jacques and Fliss discover that they have more in common than they think…

A romantic and uplifting read about turning your dreams into a reality from the author of Escape to the French Farmhouse.

I’ve just closed Celebrations at the Chateau with a smile on my face and a satisfied ‘ah’. Jo Thomas always creates the most wonderful blend of travel fiction and foodie delights.

This book begins right at the moment Fliss and her two sisters, Nellie and Lizzie, first see the chateau that they have just inherited from their grandfather, one they knew nothing about. It’s not the blessing they think it is though and won’t solve all their money problems as there’s a lot more to this bequest than meets the eye. Fliss decides to try her hand at turning it into a B&B but comes up against some opposition from Jacques, the mayor of the town and her new next-door neighbour.

This is such a gorgeous read. I once called Jo Thomas a purveyor of dreams and that is exactly what she does with her fiction, she brings dreams to life through her words. Who wouldn’t fancy living in a chateau in France, close to a village where you can pick up a fresh baguette, with lovely grounds to stroll through and hunky Jacques next door? Ok, not everything is plain sailing and the chateau has its problems, but it still feels like you get to live the dream vicariously.

This is feel-good fiction at its best. I know I’m in safe hands when I pick up a Jo Thomas book. I was thoroughly transported to Normandy, with the aroma on the air of the cheese and apples that are such a staple for the characters. There’s a really strong sense of camaraderie too, both between Fliss and her family and between her and her new neighbours and, oh yes, the sitting tenant of the chateau! Add in an uplifting romance and Celebrations at the Chateau is the perfect read. I loved it.

Jo Thomas worked for many years as a reporter and producer, including time at Radio 4’s Woman’s Hour and Radio 2’s The Steve Wright Show.

Jo’s debut novel, The Oyster Catcher, was a runaway bestseller and won both the RNA Joan Hessayon Award and the Festival of Romance Best eBook Award. Her recent book Escape to the French Farmhouse was a #1 bestselling eBook and in every one of her novels Jo loves to explore new countries and discover the food produced there, both of which she thoroughly enjoys researching. Jo lives in Pembrokeshire with her husband and three children, where cooking and gathering around the kitchen table are a hugely important and fun part of their family life.

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