A French Wedding by Hannah Tunnicliffe
Review copy provided by publisher
Pan Macmillan, April 2016
Synopsis- Max is turning forty. All he wants for his birthday is for his six oldest friends to come to France to eat, dance, drink and laugh for one weekend. And to finally declare his secret, undying love for his best friend, Helen.
Juliette gave up her dream of owning an acclaimed Parisian restaurant to return to her tiny coastal village and nurse her aging parents. But she finds her home much changed, even the boulangerie where she first learned to love baking has fallen upon hard times. Now, as she tries to find her way to a new future, Max’s birthday weekend may just provide the new beginning Juliette is wishing for… but at whose cost?
Review- New Zealand born Hannah Tunnicliffe has once again created a character-driven story centered around delicious food and a wonderful exotic location. When I pick up a Tunnicliffe novel I know i’m going to get a novel with deeply flawed and strong characters, scrumptious food influences and a beautiful setting.
Quite different from her previous two novels The Colour of Tea and Season of Salt and Honey; A French Wedding brings together a group of college friends who reunite for Max’s 40th birthday. While it is Juliette whose POV we delve into first, Max really steals the show in the novel as his past and present collide. They meet up in his country house in France where Juliette is the interim cook. He’s well and truly in the midst of adulthood and yet he can’t seem to let go of all the habits that has kept him feeling young; alcohol, drugs, women and non-commitment. His friends are facing very real issues; marital problems, identity issues and health problems.
This is a very character-driven novel and I feel the author really succeeded in stripping away the layers of the underlying issues Max faces, but I was a little disappointed in the role played by Juliette. She’s painted as a very driven and focused woman who is determined to put her career above else and yet she’s very much invisible in this story. She’s in the background, watching everything unfold before her and I’d have liked to see her really take charge of her life. Her character could have been fleshed out further and pulled her to the forefront of the story to really give it a big impact.
Otherwise, I really enjoyed this story and I look forward to reading more by this author in the future.
“I really liked this”
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