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Customer Reviews

4.4 out of 5 stars
4.4 out of 5 stars
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on 26 April 2017
Really easy read, with plenty of information of French life and customs thrown in. Enjoyed it from start to finish
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on 6 June 2017
Loved the story of running the chateau as wedding venues
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on 18 August 2015
Good escapism and well written
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on 25 April 2014
I was offered a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review by Kim at Bookouture in exchange for an honest review. Kim wasn't wrong when she suggested I might enjoy reading this book.

Sara and Gavin are engaged to be married, have sold up in the UK and ploughed all their savings into renovating and running a French Chateau as a wedding venue only for Gavin to jump ship part way through their first season.

Sara comes across as vulnerable but has a hidden strength of character that she wears like a mask - ensuring her troubles didn't affect her wedding parties. I was rooting for Sara all the way.

I just loved this book it was a beautiful read and Fiona just sold it to me. Her descriptions of the Chateau and the local village were so vivid I could have been there, sitting on the terrace admiring the view whilst enjoying a glass of wine in the late evening sun. I could almost smell the dusty heat and taste the beautiful food.

It is a book that will make you sigh with happiness over and over again. Whilst I read it I smiled a lot, laughed and it even brought a tear to my eye. Sara's attention to detail along with her cool, calm outlook is the perfect antidote to the high octane stress levels experienced in different ways by each of the wedding parties. Nothing appears to be too much trouble and no problem unsolvable for Sara and her team of staff that became her backbone when Gavin jumped ship. Sara bends over backwards to ensure that every wedding is perfect and memorable for all the right reasons putting her own problems to one side.

If I was getting married again I wouldn't hesitate I'd be on that plane booking into Chateau Bellevue Anyone who hasn't visited France, eaten fresh bread and croissants bought first thing in the morning from a local boulangerie is missing something special. August would be my choice of month too - I have been fortunate to experience the Perseids meteor shower and this would be the perfect end to a magical day.

I highly recommend this feel good book that will bring a touch of France into your home along with happiness, sunshine and laughter whatever the weather is doing outside.
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on 23 June 2014
Sara is engaged to Gavin and has given up her life in Britain to follow their dream of turning an unloved French Chateau into a luxury wedding venue. On paper, her life seems perfect ... so why is she finding it hard to breath?

All becomes clear when suddenly, she discovers some home truths about her Husband-to-be and he ups and leaves shortly after their dream has begun. Alone in an empty Chateau, with an equally empty bank account and an aching heart, Sara has almost given up hope of reaching the end of the wedding season, never mind continuing the dream long into the future ... but she soon discovers that whilst there's a chance you may not get by with a little help from your friends, you can at least give it a pretty good shot.

The setting around which the novel is based is a combination of fact and fiction, but is also nothing short of breathtakingly beautiful and Fiona Valpy's descriptions of Bordeaux bring both the Chateau and it's surroundings to life.

Sara is a wonderful leading lady, realistic when doubting her potential to succeed, yet inspirational when bringing her strength to the surface and putting everything into making her business a success. The close knit group of employees and friends that are a regular fixtures throughout, all fit into the story well and each group of guests that arrive at the wedding venue bring with them a unique element of entertainment, humour and romance.

The French For Always is brimming with little helpings of romance, from the not quite straight forward love life of our leading lady, to the stories behind each of the couples arriving to commit their lives to one another within Sara's Chateau. I won't spoil it for you, but this story features one of the most romantic scenes I have ever read, but the difference between this and your usual romantic highlight is that it isn't a big, final scene between two primary characters, but a small, perfectly placed moment between two minor characters, that sneaks up on you as if from nowhere.

My Rating 5/5 ~ Five weddings, great characters, a beautiful setting, a good looking French man (or two) and lots of wine make this a perfect summer read. Funny, entertaining and hopelessly romantic ... you'll be hoping for six happy endings in total - one for each of the five wedding couples and the last for the lovely Sara. Tres bien!
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TOP 1000 REVIEWERon 26 April 2014
The French for Always was a beautiful book. Just look at that cover! The books that bring you a setting you want to be transported to are always lovely to read and I need to spend some time at the gorgeous Château Bellevue.

The book looks like a serene, relaxing read and I felt like the writing represented that too. It was an easy, light book which for me was perfect to enjoy in one sitting on a night in. The French culture really stood out in this book and I felt like the author excelled at setting the scene for this book. It was a truly stunning story.

As much as I loved how pleasant this book was to read, I felt like maybe it could have done with an added twist in the tale, not unnecessary drama, but just something to give the plot a little bit of a lift. However, The French for Always was really brought to life with the brilliant characters. Sara was a lovely character and from the moment her life changes at the beginning of the book, I cared and rooted for her the whole way through. She felt like the kind of person I could be friends with in real life and I love authors who can write characters like that. Each of the to-be-married couples were developed wonderfully too. For a quick book I thought it was great at creating memorable characters who I loved to read about.

The French for Always helped me drift away from my own life for a little while and it was a lovely story – one that never failed to make me smile. With a plot I’d love to revisit again and again, this was a fab book.


*Book gifted for honest review.
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on 25 April 2014
What appealed to me about this book was its setting in France. Every year we take our caravan, drive down to Hull for the overnight ferry to Belgium and spend two weeks in France & Belgium. We have never quite made it as far as Bordeaux but it is somewhere we would love to visit in the future.

The author herself moved to France a few years ago, and it is obvious from her writing that she loves living there for many different reasons.

When I think of Bordeaux I imagine chateaus, grand palaces, and a very relaxed lifestyle. What the author gives us is exactly that. When I read a book I want to imagine being where the author is describing, living the lives of the characters she shares with us. Through her descriptions within the pages of this book the author has achieved just that, transporting us to a place which sounds almost magical at times. She also allows us to share in the lives of Sara, Gavin et al.

The balance in the book between Sara's life and her occupation kept my attention, as did the various weddings which Sara hosts throughout.

This is a lovely read which would be ideal for anyone who likes a nice story with enough trials and tribulations to keep it interesting. I definitely recommend this one.
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on 25 April 2014
I am the sort of reader who experiences a tingle of excitement when I discover an author whose work I enjoy has a new release pending. The tingle was so strong when The French for Always popped onto my Kindle that I just had to have a quick peek. How silly of me! I ended up deeply immersed and unable to put it down.

Set in a chateau among the Bordeaux vineyards we meet Sara, a very likeable character but a bit of an emotional wreck. Her fiancé has deserted her and their wedding business mid season, leaving her to put on a brave face and carry on making dreams come true for five happy couples. She also has a lot of family trauma from the past that she’s never really dealt with which is bubbling just under the surface. With no real roots, she feels she belongs at the chateau, but without Gavin she must face the prospect of having to sell it.

This book transported me to Sara’s chateau and as the guest at a great mix of weddings, under a blue sky with plenty of sunshine, I laughed, I cried and I enjoyed every page. Each of the couples and families we meet bring their own idea of love to the book and brought the odd wedding tear to my eyes too. What more could I ask for in a bit of novel escapism? Well, there is always a sexy Frenchman who could come to her rescue, just like in a good fairytale, but although vigneron Thomas steps in to help out, he has dreams of his own that involve getting as far away from Bordeaux as possible.

It was also lovely to catch up with some of the characters from The French for Love, Fiona’s first book, who play a cameo role in this book. This was a nice little tie in and now I want another book please Fiona.

Thank you to Bookoutre for my review copy.
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on 22 May 2014
It's so refreshing to read a book that simply transports you.
No 'label' shopping, no bad language, no celebrity lifestyles, just a simple and believable story of a girl creating a wonderful venue for weddings in SW France. Having lived there myself I could relate to the warmth, the scents, the descriptions and the conversations between the French.
I have now ordered the other book written by Fiona Valpy.
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on 28 April 2014
I haven't read Fiona Valpy before but it's going to change very soon, especially as, after finishing The French for Always, I have read an excerpt of her previous book The French for Love and I really, really liked it!

The French for Always begins with a hit already: our main character Sara dumps her boyfriend Gavin as she realises that he more than once betrayed her and slept with some guest that come to their chateau where they organize weddings. They have invested some years and some money in this old building in the French countryside and now Sara is left alone. She must comes to terms firstly with Gavin leaving her - although it's not as hard as she thought it's going to be, because actually there were not a lot of sparks between them lately - and secondly, that she alone must take care of the business and the money, as Gavin is for sure going to need his part of the money that he invested in the castle. Sara doesn't want to sell the chateau of course, it's grown to be her home, she loves the place, the gardens that she creates, she loves her guests and the team that works with her.
Between the weddings that take place at the chateau, and her guests, Sara discovers her new love Thomas, and the love story between them felt so real, I just could picture the feelings between them. I think this is the first book that the feeling was described in such a beautiful way, developing in a natural way and if felt so realistic and so genuine!

Sara was a very likeable character. She was a serene, reasonable girl with a past that was not too easy for her, as her parents divorced, re - married and she couldn't find herself afresh with the new families, she felt she didn't belong to any of them. She only dreamed about building new family, new home in France and live her nice life. There were moments that she was thirty going on three hundred almost, the way she was speaking and behaving, but in some ways it suited her perfectly and she felt very realistic. In my eyes, she was an old - modern girl who was born in the wrong times but she found a right place, friends and herself in France afresh and it was a real pain to see that she must fear now about her future and I have kept my fingers crossed for her. There was not a real drama or battle for the chateau in fact, but we got the right feeling of uncertainty and really felt for Sara.

What I totally enjoyed was the great cast of characters that we get to know, people coming to the weddings, getting married, their guests. There was some number of them but they were all written with a great feeling, each of them had their own story and although they were all just a sub - characters, they all added to the book, they were all brilliantly drawn and were totally engaging and given a heart. Their stories were only a background to the book but nevertheless, they just popped out of the pages and were a great fun and won't be forgotten!

We also get glimpses to Sara's past and I had my heart almost broken as I visualised this scared little girl, alone on the street in a pouring rain. Fiona has such a way with words, her writing is so vivid and realistic and she has made a wonderful job with the flow. There is not much action in the sense of plot but nevertheless, the pace is just right and it was very easy to dive into this book again and again and it just transported you into the French countryside and you felt like a part of the book and the plot. Fiona can brilliantly create an atmosphere and I just felt as if I was there, drank the wine and admired the settings.

As I have already said, it is not a story full of twists and turns, it has actually a very plain plot and there is not happening much in terms of action. But in this case this lack of drama didn't bother me at all, no, I went with the flow and enjoyed the smooth, peaceful story, full of beautiful weather, beautiful settings and beautiful people. Told in a very charming, sweet way, I have actually felt emotions and love in every word. Sometimes it is great to read such a simple, not exaggerated story.

Copy received from publisher in exchange for a review.
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