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A story to take your mind off the lousy summer,
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This review is from: The Parisian's Return: Fogas Chronicles 2 (Paperback)
This is the sequel to L'Auberge but the focus has moved from the inn to the village shop. Josette's dead husband's nephew has left his high flying, number crunching job in Paris, to take over the village shop. Under France's very complicated inheritance laws, because the shop is a family business, he inherits two-thirds to Josette's third. This comes as a surprise and shock to everyone in the village.
The book opens when Stephanie, who works part time at the shop, surprises what she thinks is an intruder and knocks him out with a stale baguette. The intruder is Fabian, the Parisian nephew, who makes it very clear that things are going to change. This causes Josette a great sadness because a lot of what he suggests are things that she had wanted to do but her husband had resisted. Her heartache is increased because Jacques maintains a silent, ghostly presence by the inglenook fireplace and makes his feelings very clear.
This may sound too whimsical by half, but there is a parallel story unfolding that is not in the least fey. A series of accidents, some near fatal, starts occurring. Some are true accidents, but it eventually emerges that some are not and that a member of the village is under serious threat.
Village life weaves its way around these two strands with humour and sadness until a climax is reached and most issues are resolved (but not all).
This is a more robust book than L'Auberge. The picture of French village life is lovingly portrayed, but the realities of survival in a rural community are not ignored and, where called for, there are scenes of violence which are graphic and realistic. It is well constructed and the characters are engaging so that you care what happens to them. The villain is vicious and frightening and does real damage. However, you are left with the feeling that, on the whole, the good in people easily outweighs the bad and that most people are motivated by a desire to do good, even if they get it disastrously wrong.
I thought that L'Auberge was an ideal book to read by the pool. I read The Parisian' Return on a fearsome day in July when the only sound that could be heard over the howling wind and torrential rain was the sound of the grass growing. It managed to take my mind off these disasters. It is a diverting, entertaining and satisfying read.