Review by Veronica

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She’d glanced up, then stared, her mouth open like a caricature. The stars – distant flickers in the night sky back home – were bright and close and enormous and magical. There were thousands of them, their glow uninterrupted by light pollution, making them seem both beautiful and alien. They’d shed a dull light onto the scene and somehow made her feel that, despite being alone, she was part of an incredible universe. That she could do anything.

A Year at the French Farmhouse is a love letter to anyone who loves France.

After ten years of loyal service Lily Butterworth has been made redundant. Like any clever woman, she knows the cure to redundancy is a little too much wine and her best friend.

Only the next morning, Lily has more than a hangover . . . she has a whole new house – in France!

Seeing this as an opportunity instead of a disaster, she’s excited about finally moving to France, just as she and her husband always dreamed of. However, Lily is in for another surprise. Despite planning to move there for over 20 years, her husband never actually intended to go.

So begins a year in France, alone, renovating the gorgeous old farmhouse that is held together by wallpaper and wishes.

Will a year at the French farmhouse be just what Lily needs? Or could it be the previous owner, Frederique, that is the answer to Lily’s dreams?

Oh la la, this book is tres magnifique! I just fell in love with Gillian’s writing and her ability to create a story with such heart and depth. Gillian’s descriptions of the French countryside were breathtaking and just so vivid. I felt like I was transported to the French countryside…sigh… and wished I was there right now. Lily’s journey of moving to France and fixing up her new house is filled with many ups and downs and laughter. Anyone who has ever moved or travelled to another country will understand Lily’s struggle with language barriers, different customs, and the horrors of driving in a foreign country. I could relate, especially since I was reading this book while in Greece and butchering the Greek language the whole time I was there, LOL.

I am always a sucker for a book with some renovation elements. I love watching the main character breathe new life into a neglected space. Reading the scenes where poor Lily tries renovating her new house made me laugh. I like how Gillian didn’t approach the reno aspect with rose-coloured glasses. Lily’s adventures in home renovation did not go smoothly, and I like how she realized that she wasn’t going to have that perfect house of her dreams; instead, she embraced the imperfect aspects of her new home.

Lily’s friendship with Emily was utterly heartwarming and one of the main things that made this book stand out for me. I loved how solid their friendship was. Both women stood by each other through thick and thin. Both women are going through their own challenges but are willing to drop everything to help each other out. There was this real sense of realism to their friendship.

I wouldn’t call this an overly romantic book. Romance takes a backseat in this story. Lily and her husband Ben end up separating at the beginning of the book because Ben won’t move to France with her. The bulk of the book centres around memories Lily has of her and Ben and the two of them trying to convince the other to move back home to the UK or France. Lily does have another love interest in this book, but it is pretty clear that her heart is still with Ben. Now, readers, this book has a happy ending, but you will have to read it to see what it is.

A Year at the French Farmhouse is a delightful tale of friendship, love, and taking chances.

Thank you, Boldwood Books and Rachel Random Resources for the ARC in exchange for an honest review.