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on 16 March 2016
As I love the way Susie Kelly writes, I couldn't wait to read Swallows And Robins, which certainly didn't disappoint, and was entertaining to the end. Susie tells how she converted two outbuildings on her property in France into holiday cottages. She continues to describe the ups and downs of having paying guests, describing them all in her usual honest and amusing way. I couldn't wait for the next lot of guests to arrive, as they were all interesting in different ways, some spongers, many definitely weird and others charming and helpful. It is a warm, funny and engaging read, and I thoroughly recommend it.
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on 23 December 2017
I have thoroughly enjoyed reading about Susie's adventures with lovely and not so lovely guests in her holiday homes. It was a pleasure to read how chilled, tolerant and kind she was to everyone. I'm sorry but if it had been me owning the properties, Ivy would have been given her marching orders after the first donation of tatt. I loved the devotion to the animals and her lovely friends. I think we do not even consider the holiday rental business from the owners' perspective, so this book enlightens us & shows that it isn't all about making as much money as we can and giving little in return- it's darned hard work which often is not appreciated in the least by guests. It is not a career that I should wish to embark on- I'm not tolerant enough of other people's nonsense & shenanigans.
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on 29 August 2015
I really enjoyed this Memoir - I love reading about folks who have moved to a different country (especially Spain or France as they are familiar to me), together with their families and pets. This Memoir introduces you to all the 'guests' that arrived to stay in the two renovated cottages (once they had been renovated following the builders excapades !! ) - It's an easy read, well written, interesting, funny and a tad sad at times - very good 'holiday reading material' - I look forward to reading more by Susie Kelly. Oh yes and as she's no 'housekeeper' haha... her 'help' is .. well - her name is Ivy - you need to meet her for yourself when you read this Memoir ;o)
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on 10 February 2016
From the first page I was hooked reading this book!
Loving France though we live in Spain the trials and tribulations Susie goes through renovating then letting out her cottages is brilliant!!
The descriptions of people locally and those that come to stay is wonderful!!
Am now on another of this lady's books Bon Voyage!!!
Will definitely look for more!!
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on 21 February 2013
Swallows & Robins - The Guests In My Garden

Susie Kelly sets out to covert her two delapidated properties into holiday cottages.
The chronological diary of the guests who come to stay is a compelling read. Swallows and Robins is humerous and yet a superb study of human nature. Lifelong friendships are developed some of the guests whilst others can only be described as weird. But then what is normal?
Susie's understanding off the "human Condition" and her wonderful forgiving nature, see's her cope with vandalism, verbal abuse and out right spongers.

It is a light hearted diary that makes you laugh and cringe in turn. The lengths that some people will go to, to get as cheaper deal as possible for their holiday is astounding

And then there is Ivy the somewhat eccentric cleaner.....Well you will have to read it yourself, you wont regret the purchase!
Anyone who has read and enjoyed Susie Kelly's other books will certainly enjoy this one too.
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on 4 February 2014
Back in March last year, I purchased my first Susie Kelly book for my kindle. It was whilst researching all things Marie Antoinette for a draft biography I'm attempting to write, that I stumbled across "The Valley of Heaven and Hell - Cycling in the Shadow of Marie Antoinette". I was unsure how Susie's cycling holiday would fit in with the doomed French Queen's attempt to flee Paris, but it was addictive stuff and I was hooked.

This is now the fifth book by Susie Kelly that I've bought in the space of a year, and it's quite possibly my favourite. Without wanting to give too much away, it details Susie's work to convert two outbuildings on her French property into holiday cottages. Once she's accomplished this, her focus turns to the guests who book into them, and also the people who "help" her maintain them.

It's a wonderful read; managing to be both funny and tear-inducing in the space of a few pages. There is an intimacy in the writing that makes you feel like you're a friend of the author and are actually sitting around in her kitchen listening to her tales, as opposed to reading her book. It's an incredibly warm and engaging read.

Thoroughly recommend it for anyone with an interest in France, and anyone who has ever stayed in a gîte.
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on 7 May 2017
I really enjoyed Susie's tale of the good, the bad and the downright weird in here lettings of 2 holiday cottages in France. I still have visions of the pepper mountain and pots of jam. I'm still in awe of her tolerance of the dreadful woman who did the cleaning with her little gifts of rubbish, such as crocheted toilet roll covers as I doubt I could have stood for it. A humorous and kind story.
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on 9 April 2014
If anyone was to look through my very diverse reading list, you would spot that I have a lot of books about expat and non-expat experiences in France. Suzie is a permanent resident in France and has written a number of books about her walks, cycle rides and this one, her running Gites. For anyone wanting to run a Gite I would put this on their essential reading list beforehand. Her experiences include happy ones (nice people), quirky (balmy people) and downright terrible (awful people). Strangely, the awful ones tend to stick in the mind, but so terrible was one holiday maker that it took my breath away. However, you'll have to read it to find out!
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on 24 July 2013
A candid book about one womans struggle to operate holiday homes in France despite being on her own. She describes her many visitors - somewhat downright dangerous!!!!! As well as her struggle to overcome her reluctance as a "housekeeper". She made me laugh when talking out her shortcomings as a cleaner - a prerequisite I would have thought to having holiday lets!! she comes over as a lovely person and I would have liked to have stayed in one of her holiday lets - eve if it was "decorated" by the dreadful Ivy.
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on 2 December 2013
It's not often that I describe a book as charming, but this one is. It is basically a list of anecdotes about the author's experience in France letting two holiday cottages. As you might expect, there is the full range - amusing, sad, inspiring, inexplicable - and the author's cats, dogs, horses and chickens appear in most of them. I read this immediately after abandoning a truly awful novel and read it in a 24 hour period. It felt like a breath of fresh air!
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