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Novel set in the Dordogne

18th October 2021

A Very French Wedding by Maeve Haran, novel set in the Dordogne.

Novel set in the Dordogne

In these less than cheery times, when foreign travel still seems a fairly distant prospect, why not snuggle yourself down in whatever heat you can find -conservatory, sunny window, living-room fire, duvet, whatever – pour yourself a large G and T and settle down for a few glorious weeks in the Dordogne, courtesy of Haran’s latest novel.  I can promise you; it really is not that bad a substitute.

Meredith, Steph and Jo were the best of school friends but maturity and the paths their lives have taken have separated them. Steph and her husband David run an upmarket B and B in Bratenac, an idyllic Dordogne village, and coincidentally the same place that Meredith used to visit as a child with her beloved father, who has recently died.  Browsing through an in-flight magazine one day, she happens to see a picture of the Bratenac chateau, the focus of her childhood dreams and, on impulse, decides to give up her extremely successful career in Far East investments and go to visit her childhood friend.  Meanwhile, back in England the third of the trio of friends, Jo, is running an events management business with her daughter Sophie and trying, without great success, to get over her husband’s defection in favour of a younger model.

In Bratenac, Meredith falls in love with the chateau all over again and decides it would make a brilliant wedding venue.  Having no experience of organising weddings, or even renovating chateaux, however, she enlists the help of her friend Steph and encourages Jo and Sophie to join them, bringing their event management skills to the venture.  Of course, all is not plain sailing.  The former chateau owner is delighted to sell the crumbling pile but not so content to leave the new owners to make their own decisions about it and the village is home to a group of ex-pat-ladies-who-lunch and also specialise in gossip and interference. Their first wedding looks set to be an absolute nightmare and it takes all their considerable combined skills to save it.

A Very French Wedding is peopled with a cast of glorious and often gloriously funny characters. We meet the charming Philippe, who has left his Michelin starred restaurant in Paris to come to live and work in the village so that he can look after his aging and eccentric father; Philippe’s gorgeously sexy son,  Jean-Christophe, also a chef; meddlesome aristocratic Margot, ex chateau owner, forever lurking in the vineyard and up to no good; terrifying Suzi, the man-eater; ebullient, irrepressible Jackie; the truly awful Ronnie, the bride’s mother and would-be flower arranger and finally, Nelly, the slobbery, sinisterly smiling bulldog, adopted by Meredith.  Surely, there was never a more memorable or endearing fictional canine?

If you’re a Francophile and missing your fix, this has it all.  You can get lost in the beautiful, rolling countryside with its sparkling rivers and picturesque villages, explore the fascinating interiors of a chateau, stroll around the luxurious gardens, or simply relax and enjoy the sunshine, the fabulous food or the delicious wines.

When you close the cover on A Very French Wedding, and have to return to the grey normality of a British Autumn, you can hold on to the feeling of the sun on your skin and the tastes of the Dordogne on your palate and the memories of all the interesting, irritating, amusing and endearing characters you met during your sojourn in France.

Ellen for the TripFiction Team

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