Skip to main content

In which we go bonkers in the Languedoc

I quite often get asked if I'd like a book for review. If it's not self published and it's a science book, it's usually an easy yes. With fiction, it's very much a matter of whether or not it tickles my fancy - hence the review a while ago of Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children. So when I received the offer of Carla McKay's The Folly of French Kissing, not an obvious choice of reading for me, I at least weighed up the pros and cons.

On the plus side it was set it France, which I love, and the puff comments ('The Gallic equivalent of something out of Midsomer Murders...') caught my eye. I like a touch of murder if it's British in feel, and this was an ex-pat novel. On the downside it really wasn't the kind of book I usually read (and the cover, according to the chick-lit convention, seems to suggest it's aimed at women).

Now the publisher did themselves no favours sending me a bound proof to review. I hate reading from bound proofs - they don't look and feel right (this one had a blank white cover), and there's always something irritatingly wrong with the text - in this case a whole repeated page (which I hope didn't make it to the printed version). But I persevered and on the whole I'm glad I did. It's a novel of three parts.

At the beginning, when we're being introduced to the ex-pats we'll find in an obscure part of the Languedoc, and how they got there, it's a bit slow. I also was beginning to worry this was a self-published book, as there were a few writing issues that needed some stern editing (more than the requisite zero adverbs, for example). But once we got into the main middle section the style picked up a little and the plot got some pace. Before long I was tearing through it, wanting to find what happened next. For older readers I could best describe it as a girlie version of Leslie Thomas - a lighter touch, but a similar feel in many respects. Like Thomas there was a slight tendency to 2D secondary characters - there was a bluff northerner who was straight out of central casting - but the main characters were quite well drawn.

Then came the final section where the strings were drawn together. I found this a little disappointing as it seemed rushed and a little calculating.

Altogether it was interesting to dive beneath a chick-lit cover, something I would never normally do. The Midsomer Murders hint was entirely misleading - there is crime in it, but not in the way that would give you to expect - but on the whole I enjoyed the experience of The Folly of French Kissing. Ideal for a hot weather, lightweight summer read. See at and
Using these links earns us commission at no cost to you  


Popular posts from this blog

Is 5x3 the same as 3x5?

The Internet has gone mildly bonkers over a child in America who was marked down in a test because when asked to work out 5x3 by repeated addition he/she used 5+5+5 instead of 3+3+3+3+3. Those who support the teacher say that 5x3 means 'five lots of 3' where the complainants say that 'times' is commutative (reversible) so the distinction is meaningless as 5x3 and 3x5 are indistinguishable. It's certainly true that not all mathematical operations are commutative. I think we are all comfortable that 5-3 is not the same as 3-5.  However. This not true of multiplication (of numbers). And so if there is to be any distinction, it has to be in the use of English to interpret the 'x' sign. Unfortunately, even here there is no logical way of coming up with a definitive answer. I suspect most primary school teachers would expands 'times' as 'lots of' as mentioned above. So we get 5 x 3 as '5 lots of 3'. Unfortunately that only wor

Why I hate opera

If I'm honest, the title of this post is an exaggeration to make a point. I don't really hate opera. There are a couple of operas - notably Monteverdi's Incoranazione di Poppea and Purcell's Dido & Aeneas - that I quite like. But what I do find truly sickening is the reverence with which opera is treated, as if it were some particularly great art form. Nowhere was this more obvious than in ITV's recent gut-wrenchingly awful series Pop Star to Opera Star , where the likes of Alan Tichmarsh treated the real opera singers as if they were fragile pieces on Antiques Roadshow, and the music as if it were a gift of the gods. In my opinion - and I know not everyone agrees - opera is: Mediocre music Melodramatic plots Amateurishly hammy acting A forced and unpleasant singing style Ridiculously over-supported by public funds I won't even bother to go into any detail on the plots and the acting - this is just self-evident. But the other aspects need some ex

Which idiot came up with percentage-based gradient signs

Rant warning: the contents of this post could sound like something produced by UKIP. I wish to make it clear that I do not in any way support or endorse that political party. In fact it gives me the creeps. Once upon a time, the signs for a steep hill on British roads displayed the gradient in a simple, easy-to-understand form. If the hill went up, say, one yard for every three yards forward it said '1 in 3'. Then some bureaucrat came along and decided that it would be a good idea to state the slope as a percentage. So now the sign for (say) a 1 in 10 slope says 10% (I think). That 'I think' is because the percentage-based slope is so unnatural. There are two ways we conventionally measure slopes. Either on X/Y coordiates (as in 1 in 4) or using degrees - say at a 15° angle. We don't measure them in percentages. It's easy to visualize a 1 in 3 slope, or a 30 degree angle. Much less obvious what a 33.333 recurring percent slope is. And what's a 100% slope