Helen Pollard is on the blog today, talking about the lovely setting – a guesthouse in the French countryside – she chose for her bestselling trio of novels. Book number three, Summer at the Little French Guesthouse is out now – and I must say, summer in a French guesthouse sounds amazing!
Over to Helen:
As I finished writing Book 3 of my Little French Guesthouse series, it struck me how much I’ve come to love their setting.
That thought made me smile – after all, I chose the Loire valley for the trilogy because I’d enjoyed our family holidays in the area so much.
But a few photos and enjoyable memories don’t suffice when it comes to immersing your reader in a place. For all three books, I spent a lot of time on internet research – making sure I had my facts straight and ‘revisiting’ the places I was writing about, sometimes at Google Street View level, so I could picture it perfectly when I wrote.
And in the course of that research and the writing, I fell in love with the area all over again.
When I started writing the first book, the Loire region seemed perfect for my needs. I wanted somewhere with distinctive character, recognisable countryside and interesting places to visit.
It has that typical French countryside we all imagine – vines…
… and sunflowers…
… and plenty of châteaux…
…and historic towns with old streets and buildings.
I wanted to get across to the reader why Emmy loves the place so much and is tempted to make a new life for herself there.
Many of the places in the books are real. La Cour des Roses itself is imaginary, based very loosely on a gîte where we once stayed – I wanted the freedom to build the place exactly as I wanted it in my imagination. As for the local town, Pierre-la-Fontaine, that too is imaginary but it’s based closely on a town we got to know in the area. Again, I wanted the freedom for the town to suit my purposes, and I didn’t want to feel constrained by the actual streets and facilities there.
In newly-released Book 3, Summer at The Little French Guesthouse, Emmy is busy preparing for her upcoming wedding and fending off her manic mother, as well as managing the guesthouse and running her own business, but she still finds time to enjoy the simpler things in life – cycling, canoeing, coffee with friends in the local town square.
As ever, immersing myself in the place as I wrote made me feel almost homesick, anxious to get back there myself, sometime soon – and I’ve had to frequently remind myself that La Cour des Roses doesn’t really exist, even though, after writing three books set there, it seems as though it should!
Thank you, Helen! Here’s the blurb for Summer at the Little French Guesthouse:
Summer sun, chilled, white wine, and a gorgeous fiancé. Nothing could upset pure bliss … Right?
Emmy Jamieson loves her new life in the gentle hills and sunflowers of the lush French countryside, managing La Cour des Roses, a beautiful, white stone guesthouse. With marriage to caramel-eyed Alain just round the corner, things couldn’t be more perfect.
The odd glass (gallon) of wine dulls the sound of Emmy’s mum in full motherzilla-of-the-bride mode, and the faint tinkling of alarm bells coming from Alain’s ex are definitely nothing to worry about. Guesthouse owner Rupert and a whole host of old and new friends are there to make sure nothing gets in the way of Emmy’s happiness.
But as Emmy gets close to the big day, a secret from the past throws everything decidedly off track. Will her idyllic French wedding go ahead as planned, or will Emmy run back home to England with a broken heart?
This summer, escape to the rolling vineyards of France for an utterly uplifting read. Fans of Jenny Colgan, Debbie Johnson and Nick Alexander will want to join Emmy for a pain au chocolat in the sun-drenched garden at La Cour des Roses.
As a child, Helen had a vivid imagination fuelled by her love of reading, so she started to create her own stories in a notebook.
She still prefers fictional worlds to real life, believes characterisation is the key to a successful book, and enjoys infusing her writing with humour and heart.
When she’s not writing, Helen enjoys reading, scrapbooking and watching old seventies and eighties TV shows.
Helen is a member of the Romantic Novelists’ Association and The Society of Authors.
You can find out more about Helen and her books on her website, Facebook, Twitter and Amazon.