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Lunch in Paris by Elizabeth Bard

(HarperCollins, $39.99)

To be perfectly honest, I don’t always enjoy books about single women transplanting themselves to foreign parts to follow their hearts and whip up endless gastronomic delights with exotic ingredients.

Usually, I find them annoying.

“Get a boyfriend at home and have baked beans on toast in front of the telly like the rest of us,” I will mutter under my breath as I move on to something a little more fictitious.

But Lunch in Paris came highly recommended and I’m so glad I read it, because Elizabeth Bard is not at all annoying – she’s one of us.

She’s described as a journalist, but in fact, when she first lays eyes on Gwendal, the Frenchman who steals her heart, she is just a dreamy, academic American trying to find her place in the world.

A native New Yorker with a propensity for planning and worrying, she then spends a year travelling to and from Paris every few weeks as the love affair blossoms. Eventually she moves there and marries him.

There is a great big happily ever after – of course – but what I loved about Elizabeth Bard is that she didn’t make it sound that easy – quite the contrary. She struggled with language, with socialising, with money, with her career, with Gwendal’s career, with his parents, with her parents and with the fact that French women really don’t get fat, but she’s not a French woman.

Against this more challenging backdrop of settling into a new and sometimes incomprehensible environment is the sheer bliss of her delicious romance with Gwendal, and Elizabeth’s growing confidence in the kitchen as she slowly comes to terms with that most tantalising aspect of the French way of life – the cooking (recipes are included).

I see from her website (elizabethbard.com) that she has since moved to the country and had babies so I wonder if we can start looking forward to Lunch in Provence?

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