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A Chateau of One's Own: Restoration Misadventures in France [Paperback]

Sam Juneau
3.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (27 customer reviews)

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Book Description

20 Aug 2007
Sam and Bud were ordinary first-time homebuyers in their early thirties. Their intention, in moving to France, was to create a simple life in a place where they could spend time with their children. The home they actually bought was a 17th century chateau in the Loire valley with over thirty rooms. Chateau de la Buronniere had been the seat of noble families as far back as 1507. With only modest savings, Sam and Bud launched the exciting project of restoring this extraordinary building to its former glory. Over several years they renovated 10,000 square feet of house, installed countless bathrooms, painted 156 windows, put the 40-acre park and gardens into some semblance of order and started a bed and breakfast against resistance from the locals. Their hardwork prevailed; their chateau quadrupled in value. The things we dream do not always fit nicely with the realities of everyday life. This is an insightful glimpse of what it truly means to leave everything behind to pursue a dream.

Product details

  • Paperback: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Summersdale Publishers (20 Aug 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1840246413
  • ISBN-13: 978-1840246414
  • Product Dimensions: 19.4 x 12.8 x 2.4 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (27 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 466,769 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

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Product Description


"the perfect read for anyone considering a... home makeover project and for all... who dream in a life in France."
-- BritMag, September 2007

'An amazing journey'
-- Living Abroad Magazine, March 08

'It's the perfect read... for all of us who dream of a life in France'
-- Living France Magazine, January 2008

About the Author

Sam Juneau was born in New Orleans and has been a television producer and writer in the US and the UK since 1992. His wife grew up on a farm in Ireland. They live in France with their four children and 22 cats.

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Massively irritating 21 May 2009
By Marand TOP 500 REVIEWER
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
The blurb suggests the book will describe the amusing tale of the renovation of a French chateau. I am clearly in the minority here but I did not find this book either interesting or amusing. The author & his wife are either startlingly naive or just plain stupid. They buy a large, run-down chateau and seem surprised that it costs so much to own, renovate, decorate & run the property. It isn't even clear to me why they chose France - there seems to be little understanding of French life & culture. This is admirably demonstrated by the episode of the hunting for wild boar. His vegetarian/formerly vegan wife objects to this longstanding element of French rural life. I am a vegetarian myself - and whilst I find hunting unpalatable there is simply no point in getting angry about it in rural France. Admittedly the author himself has some insight into the absurdity of their position: he writes "What right did I have to come to the French countryside and tell these farmers what to do?......This (i.e the hunting) was a profound issue and I could feel and understand their anger. Here we were, 'rich' Americans buying up their patrimony and then demanding they obey our rules." Quite!

It is even less obvious why the author thought he would be suited to the hospitality industry - he clearly views paying hotel guests, wedding parties, etc as a tremendous inconvenience, to be treated with disdain and/or disrespect. He even rents out part of the property before he has even seen it and of course it isn't ready for the guests.

I had hoped this would be a relaxing, entertaining holiday read - in fact I spent most of the time trying to fight down growing irritation, that became fury and finally an overwhelming urge to thump the author. Some relaxation!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Great Laugh 19 Oct 2010
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
This book made me laugh in the face of my own troubles. I'm also starting a small business in France and this book gave me the courage to continue, because the magnitude of their chateau project suddenly overshadowed the challenges of my own project.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Recommended 20 July 2007
I have been collecting books written by keen folks on their moves to France since I arrived here 2 years ago, A Chateau of ones Own is right up there with my favourites and contained all the entertainment features that keep me hooked and take me out of my own life for a spell.........also having seen a few Chateaux up close and knowing they are not all created equal, it was great to have the photos on the back cover to refer back to constantly, to be able to appreciate the enormity of their project........
Loved the book, loved Sams witty writing style, have recommended the book to all.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars It can be done ! 30 May 2007
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Wonderful book and charming tale of a couple who realised their dream of owning a chateau in France and providing an idyllic lifestyle for their children. Sam tells it like it is without bursting the bubble. Romantic and dreamy, yet totally practical. A must read for anyone building castles in the air and proof positive of what can be achieved with guts, determination, passion and love. Congratulations.
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9 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Honest and Extremely Funny! 10 Sep 2007
By dkov
I read this book and thought it was great! The author is a natural! The storytelling was honest, thoughtful, insightful and extremely funny.

There is a bit of everything -- a compelling storyline, a little history of the Loire Valley, history of France, architecture, chateaux life. A very full meal of a book.

The author's conversational style works really well in the written form...his irreverent sense of humor really comes through in the book.

Congratulations...I'm sure this is just the beginning of many books to come. And I can't wait for the next book to see what happens!
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9 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A different insight into living in France 12 Jun 2007
I thoroughly enjoyed reading A Chateau of One's Own. The book takes the usual house renovation project to another level with the restoration of a chateau. As well as passing on everyday experiences living and setting up a bed and breakfast business in France.

Altogether I found the book a humorous and thoughtful read about the ups and downs of buying a dream home and of changing a life style, and I would recommend this book to anyone wanting a different insight into living in France.
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8 of 10 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars dull and disappointing 28 Jun 2008
I was given this book by someone who thought I'd find it an interesting read due to the similarities with our own life change, although ours is on a smaller scale, we've bought and renovated a villa in Tuscany and now run it as a B&B. There was the odd thing in the book that I recognised, and somtimes winced at but as with some of the other reviews I couldn't like the author and was not surprised at the 'ending'. He didn't seem willing to put in the hard work and effort needed to succeed in what he'd taken on. In part that is the honesty of the book, he's chosen to present himself in that way, but it made me feel cross to read as he seemed unrealistic. With this sort of 'real life' book you have to want them to succeed, to care enough to read their story (like Martin Kirby in Spain, Mother's Garden I think it was called) or find it funny like the Chris Stewart series, but sadly neither the case with this one.
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7 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Honest and Thoroughly Delicious 9 Nov 2007
"A Chateau of One's Own" is one of the most honest, compelling travel memoirs I have ever encountered (and I've ready many through the years).

So many ex-pat abroad writings are filled with the clever locals in constant, wily conflict with the author; cutesy, unbelievable stories about unlikely events; and an underlying current that always tells the reader who is really, in the end, in charge. Not at all the case with Mr. Juneau's 'Chateau.'

From my experiences abroad, I sense that the author is telling us the truth -- unvarnished and clear. Of course, it is funny and sweet by turns, but he never strays too far from the essential core of ex-pat life -- oftentimes, it is difficult and hostile mixed with occasional bursts of sunlight, wine and fragrant wisteria! So many other books want us to know that they've made the right choice, their choice is in fact superior. Mr. Juneau acknowledges the tedium and challenges while taking time to share also the beauty and glory of France.

It seems many readers want their travelogues neatly packaged, tidy and jovial. 'Chateau' shows a man and his family who are really coming to grips with what it means to be happy, where one can be happy, how and why and with whom. In this sense, 'A Chateau of One's Own' is a real journey, not a touristic voyage. It is the real story of real people looking for real joy. They don't always find it but they're willing to take the risks to make it at least possible.

Well-conceived, nicely written, witty and quite fun. It's one of the best of the genre. Most highly recommended.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars good read
very funny account of buying a massive chateau in need of masses of work with a nice ending. good read
Published 2 months ago by dan the man
3.0 out of 5 stars A good read
Because we live in France I generally enjoy books such as this, if only to nod agreement on the local observations, but I would have liked more 'bite' to the book, as I know local... Read more
Published 3 months ago by Peri Winkle
2.0 out of 5 stars Padded out adventure of renovating a property in France
Would have made a fantastic weekend magazine feature. There simply wasn't enough to fill a memoir of moving to France. Read more
Published 7 months ago by S Winspur
1.0 out of 5 stars Ridiculous
I purchased this book from my local charity shop and really wish I had left it there but on second thoughts it would be unfair to inflict it on some other poor person. Read more
Published on 13 Nov 2011 by Christopher
1.0 out of 5 stars Annoying and dull
I don't often get annoyed by books, but I did by this one! If there's a handbook on how not to go about moving and living abroad, then this is it. Read more
Published on 26 Jan 2011 by S. J. Dagg
5.0 out of 5 stars Genuine and well executed
Perhaps one of the best, most truthful tales about the realities of life abroad.
Sharp, clear and painfully honest.
Excellent writing and bold story telling. Read more
Published on 26 Aug 2010 by europeantales
1.0 out of 5 stars BORING
Looked forward to reading this book but was very very disappointed.

Dull and dreary. Not recommended.
Published on 3 Aug 2010 by Odette
5.0 out of 5 stars The Truth and Loads of Laughs
Well done you! One of the few (only?) books to tell it like it is. Having lived abroad, off and on, for years, I have never really found a book that paints the broad strokes of the... Read more
Published on 16 July 2008 by WorldVoyager
1.0 out of 5 stars Hardly entertaining...........
I have read many books on this theme, and I have to say that this author is the most annoying and self centered of any I have come across. Read more
Published on 9 May 2008 by the book mole
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