It’s my stop on the blog tour today for Jennifer Bohnet’s new book A French Affair and I’m delighted to be able to share with you, not just my review, but also an extract from the EBook.
Belinda Marshall’s idyllic teenage life in Brittany, France, fell apart when her parents dramatically separated and her mother took her back
Fast forward thirty-five years when Belinda’s world is once again turned upside down.
It’s the week before Christmas and Belinda’s employer ‘surprises’ her by asking for her help to rejuvenate their latest investment, a run-down campsite in Brittany.
Memories and anxieties that had lain dormant for years suddenly begin to resurface.
As secrets from a lost life threaten to overwhelm her, there is a realisation that maybe she wasn’t told the whole truth by her mother all those years ago.
Can Belinda reconcile her emotions and find happiness once more in the place she so loved and called home?
Belinda looked at them both as the news penetrated her brain.
‘So let me get this straight. You’ve bought a run-down campsite called Camping dans La Fôret in Finistère and you want me to help you transform the place and fill it literally with happy campers.’ This was nightmarish news to her, but she couldn’t say that to Nigel and Molly. She took a deep breath. ‘Okay. Is there a website I can look at? Start to get some ideas flowing. As it’s only a campsite, I won’t really need to visit. I can do it over the internet.’
‘No, no. We’re sending you to France ASAP in the New Year,’ Nigel interrupted. ‘You’ll have two months – maybe three – to sort out the site and get it ready to fill with those proverbial happy campers this summer.’
Belinda felt a cold shiver run through her body. This couldn’t be happening. There was no way she could disappear off to France for weeks on end. There was Chloe and the twins to consider. Not exactly dependent on her, but they needed her to be around. And what about BB, her dog?
It was Molly who broke the silence that had fallen. ‘We know it’s a lot to ask of you,’ she hesitated. ‘Especially given you and your mum’s circumstances, but we’re sure it’s something you’ll enjoy doing. It’s always quiet in the hotels after New Year, so it’s a good time for you to go.’
With a grin, Nigel raised his glass in her direction for a toast. ‘Here’s to Camping dans La Fôret. We have every faith in you, don’t we, Molls? You’ll soon have the place up to scratch. You and Alain, the manager, who is already on site.’
‘He’s already on site? Surely he can oversee things then?’ Belinda asked quickly.
‘Needs a woman’s touch,’ Molly said. ‘And, in particular, your touch. You’ve always been good at seeing things differently and coming up with fresh ideas.’
Speechless, Belinda could only clink her glass with theirs. Nigel and Molly might have every faith in her, but there was no way she wanted to go and live in Finistère. Whenever the possibility of going to Brittany had come up in the past, she’d vehemently vetoed it. As for spending two or three months there, well, she couldn’t do it, however much Nigel and Molly insisted. She’d have to resign. Find another job with another hotel chain. Either that or find a way of persuading Nigel and Molly to send someone else. Someone who didn’t get heart palpitations at the thought of returning to Brittany.
Belinda’s job is as a ‘troubleshooter’ for a small hotel business. Coming along at just the right time following her divorce, it has ‘saved’ her and while working hard, she has found that she is good at what she does. When her bosses unexpectedly announce that they have bought a run down camp site in Brittany, she is shocked! Asking her to go out there and get it ready for business, she has doubts. Not the usual high end hotels she is used to working with she wonders if she is qualified to take it on. However, there is another reason Belinda is reluctant to go. Brittany holds bad memories for her and she would rather not revisit the past, but this is her job and she needs it.
When she arrives, the campsite is even more of a disappointment than she thought and the bad mannered manager, Alain, puts her back up straight away. The surrounding area is lovely though and she begins to see it’s potential, as we read along and learn of her plans and the new faces she meets like Fern who runs the local auberge.
As with all Jennifer’s novels, the french countryside is vibrant and wonderful to read of, her characters, so easy to get along with, with their stories of love, regret, friendships and new beginnings are delightful and the plot lines quickly absorb you into their world, making this another great read to escape with.