Saturday, May 29, 2010

The Matchmaker of Périgord


I have absolutely no idea how or where I first saw this book.  All I can remember is that Julia Stewart’s book caught my eye when it was published in 2007 and I knew that I had to read it.  Perhaps it was because I am acquainted with the Périgord region of France (and in particular the real towns mentioned in the novel although I was unaware of that before I read it). 

I received it as part of a Christmas present and it was waiting for me when I returned from New Zealand.  I finished it a few hours ago over a leisurely lunch. As I was reading it (which I managed in a matter of a few days – a record for me when not on a plane?) I was occasionally reminded of Tom Sharp’s Blot on The Landscape (1975) and Porterhouse Blue (1974) which I read in the ‘70s.  I enjoyed them but I could never get into any of his other books and abandoned the attempts. 

As soon as I started it I needed to know how it ended.  On occasions it irritated me.  On occasions I just enjoyed the style and prose which borrows from the same school as Alexander McCall Smith when it comes to describing things.  The Matchmaker, for example, never wears plain ‘sandals’ but always ’supermarket leather sandals’  It is, however, an absolutely delightful read with not a nasty thought to be found on any page. 


‘I’ve never eaten frogs in my life.  Nobody in their right mind would.  Have you?’  ‘Of course not!  Only tourists do.’

Love is like a good cassoulet, it needs time and determination.  Some bits are delicious, while others might be a bit rancid and make you wince.  You may even come across the odd surprise like a little green button, but you have to consider the whole dish.

Without love we are just shadows.

Once the villagers had settled their argument as to whose limbs were whose, they got to their knees and it wasn’t long before they were able to stand.  Eventually they found they could focus, and even remembered their own names.  When they staggered out of the bar and saw the frightful state that the village was in, their hearts immediately soared, knowing that the chances of the English buying homes in Amour-sur-Belle were now even more remote.

…the Comité des Fetes announced that the celebrations to mark Patrice Baudin’s recovery from vegetarianism would be held that afternoon.

However, possibly the best quote of all is the last two sentences of the book and to get there you’ll just have to read it.  I think it was worth it.

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