The Summer of France
By: Paulita Kincer
Format/Source: Paperback courtesy of the author as part of the The Summer of France Book Tour
When Fia Jennings loses her job at the local newspaper, she dreams of bonding with her teenage twins. As she realizes she may be too late to pull her family closer, her husband Grayson pressures her to find another job to pay the increasing bills. Relief comes with a phone call from Fia’s great Uncle Martin who runs a bed and breakfast in Provence. Uncle Martin wants Fia to venture to France to run the B&B so he and his wife Lucie can travel. He doesn’t tell Fia about the secret he hid in the house after fighting in World War II, and he doesn’t mention the people who are tapping his phone and following him, hoping to find the secret.
After much cajoling, Fia whisks her family to France and is stunned when Uncle Martin and Aunt Lucie leave the same day for a Greek cruise. She’s thrown into the minutiae of a running the B&B without the benefit of speaking the language. Her dreams of family bonding time fade as her teenagers make French friends. Fia’s husband Grayson begins touring the countryside with a sophisticated French woman, and Fia resists the distractions of Christophe, a fetching French man. Why the whirlwind of French welcome, Fia wonders after she comes home from a day at the beach in Nice to find someone has ransacked the B&B.
Fia analyzes Uncle Martin’s obscure phone calls, trying to figure out this WW II hero’s secret. Can she uncover the secret and relieve Uncle Martin’s guilt while building the family she’s always dreamed of?
(No violence. No graphic sex, some sexual situations.)
I first came across The Summer of France on Goodreads as one of the giveaways. The premise was interesting, mixing a bit of family drama/relocating to a new place to start over and a family mystery involving an event that happened during World War Two. I’m excited to take part in the blog tour for this novel hosted by France Book Tours. Be sure to check out the end of this post where you can enter to win a paperback copy of this novel (US/Canada only)!
This book is part of the Books on France Reading Challenge 2013 that I am participating in.
The Summer of France is very much told from Fia’s perspective and her experiences with living in a different country, the challenges in bringing her family closer together and solving the mystery surrounding her uncle from his war days. The storyline concerning her family fuels a lot of Fia’s story for the first half of the novel as her intentions to work on her marriage and be with her kids don’t go as planned. I felt bad that she was left to run the inn while her family went off and did their own thing and started feeling pretty defensive on behalf of her character. As the story progresses, her uncle’s story takes shape and intersects with Fia’s story, adding a whole new layer of complication to her already complicated life.
Besides the mystery surrounding her uncle and an event that took place during World War Two, I like how this novel is very much about Fia and the journey her character goes on during her time in France. I felt she was far too passive in the beginning, allowing her husband to get away with being rude and blah towards her and her kids being quite unruly (which was very annoying to this reader) and actually found myself silently urging the character to speak up. It was sad that things did not turn out the way she hoped but at the same time her being in France sort of got her in touch with who she was before she settled down (according to her uncle’s thoughts and her own personal reflections).
As an aside, I understand that since the story is told from Fia’s point of view that we’re only seeing her perspective on her husband Grayson but it would have been interesting to know where he’s coming from since he came off as rather one-note. Having said that, I felt no sympathy for the character (he, quite frankly, infuriated me) and where he ended up at the end of the novel.
Her uncle’s story about his days as a soldier was also interesting though I wished it was more fleshed out. The early half of his story with his and his wife’s sudden departure to their vacation the minute Fia and her family arrived added an air of suspense to the story. I’m not sure how plausible Fia’s resolution to the situation was, but its discovery and the various people wishing to procure it was fascinating, I wish we had more scenes/details about it.
Overall, The Summer of France was an interesting novel about family, trust, facing your past and looking ahead. I liked that the novel was set out in the French countryside as opposed to Paris, which is a common setting for French-related novels; it was especially interesting since I never got a chance to hang out and wander around the French countryside when I was there a few years ago. If you’re into reading novels set in France, family mysteries and novels involving character journeys and changes (or just a novel to read by the beach/pool/on vacation), you should check out this novel.
ABOUT PAULITA KINCER
Paulita Kincer has an M.A. in journalism from American University. She has traveled to France 10 times, and still finds more to lure her back. She currently teaches college English and lives in Columbus, Ohio, with her three teenagers, two cats and one husband.
Now that you’ve read my review, here’s the giveaway for a paperback copy of this novel! Please fill out the following Rafflecopter below to enter; US/Canada only. Contest closes on July 4th @ 12:00 am EST (or 11:59 pm EST on July 3rd if this sounds confusing). A winner will be drawn and contacted later that day. Please use a valid email address. The winner will have 24 hours to respond and claim their prize. If you have any questions, feel free to comment below or email me.