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Vive la France! Team Bookends’ Frenchie picks

In honour of the French election that took place this week, team bookends thought we’d carry on the theme and give you our picks of French-themed books!

These Dividing Walls by Fran Cooper

These Dividing Walls book jacket

One Parisian summer
A building of separate lives
All that divides them will soon collapse…

In a forgotten corner of Paris stands a building.

Within its walls, people talk and kiss, laugh and cry; some are glad to sit alone, while others wish they did not. A woman with silver-blonde hair opens her bookshop downstairs, an old man feeds the sparrows on his windowsill, and a young mother wills the morning to hold itself at bay. Though each of their walls touches someone else’s, the neighbours they pass in the courtyard remain strangers.

Into this courtyard arrives Edward. Still bearing the sweat of a channel crossing, he takes his place in an attic room to wait out his grief. But in distant corners of the city, as Paris is pulled taut with summer heat, there are those who meet with a darker purpose. As the feverish metropolis is brought to boiling point, secrets will rise and walls will crumble both within and without Number 37…

‘Confident and brilliant. She will immerse you in a world I dare you to turn away from.’ Lisa O’Donnell, author of The Death of Bees

I’m Still Here by Clélie Avit (Lucy Foster trans.)

 

I'm Still Here book jacket

A modern-day Sleeping Beauty story of love and hope, perfect for fans of Jojo Moyes. ‘A rare and beautiful novel’ (Daily Mail)

Elsa has been in a coma for five months. With all hope of reviving her gone, her family must face the devastating fact that it might be time to turn off her life support.

What they don’t know is that in the past few weeks Elsa has regained partial consciousness – she just has no way of telling them.

Thibault is in the same hospital visiting his brother and, seeking a retreat, finds his way into Elsa’s room. When he begins to talk to her, he doesn’t realise she can hear every word – and that he is giving her a reason to wake up.

And so begins a love story that might just save both their lives…

The Last Kiss Goodbye by Tasmina Perry

Last Kiss Goodbye book jacket

Everyone remembers their first kiss. But what about the last?

1961.Journalist Rosamund Bailey is ready to change the world. When she meets explorer and man about town Dominic Blake, she realises she has found the love of her life. Just as happiness is in their grasp, the worst happens, and their future is snatched away.

1962.Deep in the vaults of a museum, archivist Abby Gordon stumbles upon a breathtaking find. A faded photograph of a man saying goodbye to the woman he loves. Looking for a way to escape her own heartache, Abby becomes obsessed with the story, little realising that behind the image frozen in time lies a secret altogether more extraordinary.

Late Summer in the Vineyard, Jo Thomas

Late Summer in the Vineyard book jacket

Emmy Bridges has always looked out for others. Now it’s time to put down roots of her own.

Working for a wine-maker in France is the opportunity of a lifetime for Emmy. Even if she doesn’t know a thing about wine – beyond what’s on offer at the local supermarket.

There’s plenty to get to grips with in the rustic town of Petit Frère. Emmy’s new work friends need more than a little winning over. Then there’s her infuriatingly brash tutor, Isaac, and the enigmatic Madame Beaumont, tucked away in her vineyard of secrets.

But Emmy will soon realise that in life – just as in wine-making – the best things happen when you let go and trust your instincts. Particularly when there’s romance in the air…

The Lavender House by Hilary Boyd

The Lavender House

Nancy de Freitas is the glue that holds her family together. Caught between her ageing, ailing mother Frances, and her struggling daughter Louise, frequent user of Nancy’s babysitting services, it seems Nancy’s fate is to quietly go on shouldering the burden of responsibility for all four generations. Her divorce four years ago put paid to any thoughts of a partner to share her later years with. Now it looks like her family is all she has.

Then she meets Jim. Smoker, drinker, unsuccessful country singer and wearer of cowboy boots, he should be completely unsuited to the very together Nancy. And yet, there is a real spark.
But Nancy’s family don’t trust Jim one bit. They’re convinced he’ll break her heart, maybe run off with her money – he certainly distracts her from her family responsibilities.

Can she be brave enough to follow her heart? Or will she remain glued to her family’s side and walk away from one last chance for love?

The Prodigal Daughter – Prue Leith

The Prodigal Daughter book jacket

It is 1968. Angelica Angelotti has grown up in the Italian food business started by her English mother and Italian father. Now she is using her cooking talent to strike out on her own, moving to Paris to go to culinary school. There, among the excitement and wild emotion of the student barricades, she falls in love with her charismatic but unreliable cousin Mario – a manic depressive ten years older than her whom her mother had sacked from their restaurant.

Navigating a blossoming career, from the Savoy hotel pastry kitchen to the world of food writing and presenting, alongside an increasingly toxic relationship, eventually proves impossible. Angelica has to leave Mario, and makes the decision to move back to the family home in Gloucestershire to help her other cousin Silvano with a new branch of the family business – reopening the local pub, the Frampton Arms, as a restaurant. As they get to know each other better, Angelica realises her mistake: she chose the wrong brother.

But when Mario reappears, determined to win her back, and as other jealous relatives plot the downfall of the Frampton Arms, will Angelica be able to hold on to her business and the man she’s come to love?