Find a compartment labelled ‘do not disturb’ in my handbag

Just for the Holidays

Sue Moorcroft

A book about a midlife crisis and teenagers but the book had me at helicopter pilot! 



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I have been waiting for weeks to meet Leah. As soon as the book arrived, I made myself some strong coffee and lost myself in France.

As I opened the book, I could feel the ‘sheen on my skin where the sunshine streamed in through the window’. But the book isn’t just about the shimmering heat, a fast heart beat and copious amounts of rosé pamplemousse.  It is a wonderfully witty book that isn’t ‘Just for the Holidays’ because the consequences of the holiday will last forever.  This novel examines the fragility of the ‘protective shell’ surrounding teenagers that can shatter without their parents.  In turn, Moorcroft also shows how adult are left vulnerable and exposed when relationships breakdown.  However, you will still laugh all the way through novel and forget that you need to go to sleep – hence strong coffee needed.  You will also crave some expensive chocolate.

Prior to reading this novel, I was unaware of the challenges facing Leah as I had focused on the trail of clues in the #PostcardsJFTH.  One must admire Leah as she ‘rolls up her sleeves’, supports everyone and hopes that the ‘frost’ will thaw between her sister and brother-in-law. Leah’s ‘heart twists’ for the teenagers but also flutters when she feels the heat from a certain man. It is moving that Leah has an incredible capacity to empathise, putting the needs of others first.  It is equally endearing that she removes the halo from time to time. Who wouldn’t want Leah, with her ‘sunny personality’ and compassion, as a sister?

The narrative is as fast paced as Leah’s Porsche, but one longs to find out if the romance will become a harmonious melody rather than a sporadic drum beat.  Besides the events rolling on, there is a tremendous lyrical quality to the dialogue that drives you through the events.  The humour sparkles throughout the interactions and difficult situations. I am in awe of the way in which Moorcroft combines humour with a more challenging and sensitive subject.   Characters are built with precision as each word is selected with tender loving care: Moorcroft cares about her characters thus ensuring that the reader will also suffer from a ‘sore heart’ at times.

Read it and you will understand why Leah needs to get a massive ‘Do not disturb’ sign on her door.

A whole constellation of stars to be awarded to Sue Moorcroft for this funny, poignant yet heart-breaking read!  Must go now and bake the quick pecan toffee pudding to console myself for having finished the book.

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The Vineyard in Alsace slipped into my handbag, with ease

The Vineyard in Alsace

Julie Stock

The Vineyard in Alsace slipped into my handbag, with ease. It was ‘fantastique’ to escape with a book that whispered, ‘bonjour chérie’ until it was completed.


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As I soon as I opened the book, I was ‘passing through luscious green vineyards in the shadow of the pine clad Vosges mountains and among the gurgling rivers and streams’.  On reaching the destination, it was time to open a bottle of chilled pinot blanc and savour the story.

The novel can boast a vineyard, a dilapidated chateau, glorious food and all the ingredients of a delicious romance – something to make you tingle.  Fran leaves her dominating, cheating fiancé and finds my ideal job in a vineyard, but she does not know that it is owned by, Didier, a former lover.   Besides the dream job, Fran is to live in a ‘heavenly’ fairy-tale cottage. Have I tempted you to read yet?  As Fran says, ‘thank goodness for fate’ and I say let’s drink to the reassuring destiny of a romantic novel.  But do all the roads lead to happiness?

Didier is a ‘gorgeous’, warm-hearted and intelligent man and Fran is also intelligent confident and ‘beguiling’.  They are thrown together again by circumstances but can the fairy-tale last forever?  Didier is a dedicated father and his daughter, Chloe, is his priority.   Chloe is brought to life beautifully throughout the story; the reader can delight in the simple pleasures of a child’s world.

Didier is passionate about the vineyard and cooking so let’s hope that his passionate nature bodes well for this romantic novel.  The story will set your ‘heart racing’ as the story unfolds but the harmony may be broken when there are so many others to consider? Will the chateau cast its magic spell on the inhabitants of the estate, or will the villains return to torment their dreams? Is the prince charming too good to be true?  All will be revealed in the novel as it winds its way towards autumn and the grape harvest.  The author will guide you through her narrative with her warm, inviting style.

The novel presents some interesting facts about the winemaking process and the wine-tasting.  However, I wanted to taste the wine and get involved in the harvest.  I can guarantee that you will want to reach for a good bottle of Alsace wine, some quiche, peach tartes and ponder second chances. You will also taste delicious words such as: pinot blancs, Gewurztraminers, Flammekueche and Kugelhopf sponge.

Is it time for you to take a chateau, a vineyard and add the magic of France.  Perhaps you will pack a romantic picnic but you ‘certainment’ won’t be disappointed if you want to let contentment dominate your senses and comfort your soul.

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