What will be will be…
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?
I received a copy of this book from Boldwood Books via NetGalley in return for an honest review.
Belinda has a career she enjoys and excels at but renovating a camping park in Brittany for her employers is not what she wants. Brittany has painful family memories for Belinda, and now she has to confront them. The campsite is a disaster and the antagonistic manager Alain, ramps up the conflict.
The French setting is well-described and lets the reader experience life in Brittany. Friendships, gentle romance and family dramas are all carefully woven into this plot. It’s easy to get lost in this story, and the characters and their lives resonate.
This is a lovely read for a Summer afternoon full of friendship, love and poignancy.
Extract from A French Affair – Jennifer Bohnet
It was late afternoon on the last Friday before Christmas and Belinda Marshall, roving manager and chief troubleshooter for the Milton chain of Devonshire-based hotels had just been given some bombshell news from Nigel and Molly Milton, her employers. She’d been wondering why she’d been called into the inner sanctum so late in the day. Now she knew.
‘You’ve bought a new business in France? We’re finally expanding into Europe? That’s great news. I know you had a couple of holidays in France this year, but I thought they were just that – holidays for you both. You didn’t mention you were even looking at places,’ Belinda said, leaning against the filing cabinet as she accepted the champagne Nigel had insisted on pouring. ‘Cheers.’
‘It came up unexpectedly,’ Molly said. ‘In truth it’s all been a bit impulsive.’
‘Anyway, we both know the place and we’re thrilled with it,’ Nigel interrupted. ‘Molly can’t wait to spend time there when it’s all been rejuvenated. Bit run-down at the moment. Which is where you come in, of course.’
Belinda sipped her champagne before saying, ‘So come on, you two, put me out of my misery. Where is our new hotel? Which particular part of France? Biarritz? St-Tropez? Paris?’
Nigel laughed. ‘I know we run a successful company, Belinda, but prices for places like that are way out of our league. No, Camping dans La Fôret is in—’
‘Hang on – did you just say, Camping dans La Fôret?’ Alarm bells began to ring in Belinda’s head. ‘That’s a funny name for a hotel.’
‘It’s not a hotel. It’s a boutique campsite in Brittany, Northern France. Finistère, to be precise. Huge potential, but we’re going to need your expertise to drag it into the twenty-first century. Bring it up to standard so that more people can enjoy the Milton Hotel experience,’ Molly said.
Belinda looked from Nigel to Molly and back at Nigel again, stunned. ‘But we’re in the hotel business not camping, not even glamping.’ It had taken her three years of studying and hard work to be awarded her 2.1 in Hotel Hospitality Management. Not once had running a campsite, even a boutique one, ever crossed her path. Let alone one in Brittany.
‘Camping has just become our business,’ Nigel said. ‘It’s all the hospitality business. All about people. Making sure guests enjoy the experience of staying in a Milton hotel – and now a campsite. No difference really.’
‘But Finistère – isn’t it always raining there? Who in their right mind would want to camp in the damp? Morbihan maybe, but not Finistère. Not surprised it’s run-down.’
‘Don’t exaggerate. It’s an urban myth it’s always raining there,’ Nigel said. ‘And with global warming and the movement of the jet stream, the weather is improving there every year. It could soon be The Breton Riviera!’
Jennifer Bohnet is the bestselling author of over 14 women’s fiction titles, including Villa of Sun and Secrets and A Riviera Retreat. She is originally from the West Country but now lives in the wilds of rural Brittany, France.