A perpetual breeze blows through Amour-sur-Belle, a village so ugly that even the English refuse to live there.
Guillaume Ladoucette the barber is forced to give up his business as the advancing age of his customers means many have gone bald. He decides to set himself up as a matchmaker instead, for, despite its name, love is the one thing that Amour-sur-Belle lacks. Some shun Denise Vigier because her grandmother was found guilty of horizontal collaboration during the war. The bar owner refuses to serve Madame Fournier, the mushroom poisoner. And Madame Ladoucette and Madame Moreau have been trading insults for so long they have become almost a form of greeting. ‘Not everyone falls instantly head over heels,’ the matchmaker counsels. ‘Love is like a good cassoulet, it needs time and determination.’
But how can Guillaume make love simmer when he has not yet solved the problem of his own troubled heart?
Longlisted for Spread the Word: Books to Talk About 2008, a World Book Day award.
“A hilarious romp off the beaten track. Love it to bits.”
—Joanne Harris, author of Chocolat
“Julia Stuart very nearly creates gold dust with this quirky, effervescent tale of life in a French village.”
—The Independent (four out of five stars)
“Fast, furious and incredibly funny...lip-smacking mix of food, foolishness and fun.”
“Debut novelist Stuart infects Amour-sur-Belle’s byzantine lore with whimsy…and sensual detail.”
“This frothy debut, as enchanting as Joanne Harris’s Chocolat, follows Guillaume Ladoucette, a barber in southwestern France.”
“Following these gentle folks on their blind dates and awkward reentries into the field of romance is a sweet and simple pleasure. Stuart…does manage to richly evoke the fecund sights and smells of rural France…[A] delightful excursion to a kinder, gentler place.”
“Filled with enchanting settings and a brilliant attention to detail, Stuart’s first novel is an enjoyable trip through the sweetness, sadness, and hilarity that love and life often brings.”