Book review: the Matchmaker of Périgord
Guillaume Ladoucette is the local barber of Amour-Sur-Belle; a village described as being so ugly that the English refuse to live there. Guillaume is forced to give up his business due to the advancing age of his customers and their increasing baldness. So needing to work and occupy himself, he sets himself up as a matchmaker, because contrary to the name of his village, Amour-Sur-Belle and its inhabitants are very much lacking in love.
Guillaume’s attempts at matchmaking are quietly hilarious, especially given the locals who seek his help. There is Denise Vigier, whose grandmother was found guilty of horizontal collaboration during the war and the bar owner who refuses to serve Sandrine Fournier, the mushroom poisoner. There is also the perpetual feuding Madame Ladoucette and Madam Moreau who have been trading insults for so long they have almost become a form of greeting.
Amongst the colourful lives of his fellow villages Guillaume Ladoucette is himself also seeking love for his troubled heart. He counsels his clients with the following advice ‘Not everyone falls instantly head over heels, love is like a good cassoulet, it needs time and determination’.
And I think this novel ‘the Matchmaker of Périgord’ is just like Guillaume’s cassoulet, it bubbles along slowly, developing depth and flavour in both the story and its characters. Traditional French village life is exposed; the slow wheels of governmental bureaucracy are highlighted and the French attitude to historical events is explored and their love of food and community is realised.
Overall, it reminded me of my Romanian grandmother and my French village neighbours, even though the idiosyncrasies of the characters are exaggerated for humorous effect.
Julia Stuart has written a gentle, humorous, subtle story that develops over the 318 pages. Whilst not action-packed in the modern sense of a best-selling thriller I thoroughly enjoyed it. We can’t visit this ‘ugly little’ fictitious village but we can visit the Dordogne Périgord in the Aquitaine region in south-west France, just one hour’s drive to the east of Bordeaux. This region in which the novel is set is one of the largest and most picturesque areas of France.
Published in Great Britain by TRANSWORLD PUBLISHERS
ISBN 9780385612029 (cased) and ISBN 9780385612807 (tpd) 318 pages (link to purchase book below together with affiliate disclosure statement)
This is my delicious Cassoulet and you can find the recipe I follow here. This dish does take a little time to prepare but is easy, and a true winter comfort food.
Finally, I think readers will either embrace and totally love this book like me, or wonder why it ever appealed so much to me!! This you will have to decide for yourself. But please, if you do read it, let me know your thoughts. (Link to purchase from Amazon is below). For me, I am waiting for the film to be completed and released.
Happy reading… Annette xx