Drama | Humour | Romance

The Matchmaker of Perigord by Julia Stuart, Book Review: Quirky

The Matchmaker of Perigord Synopsis The Matchmaker of Perigord by Julia Stuart

Barber Guillaume Ladoucette has always enjoyed great success in his tiny village in southwestern France, catering to the tonsorial needs of Amour-sur-Belle’s thirty-three inhabitants. But times have changed. His customers have grown older—and balder. Suddenly there is no longer a call for Guillaume’s particular services, and he is forced to make a drastic career change. Since love and companionship are necessary commodities at any age, he becomes Amour-sur-Belle’s official matchmaker and intends to unite hearts as ably as he once cut hair. But alas, Guillaume is not nearly as accomplished an agent of amour, as the disastrous results of his initial attempts amply prove, especially when it comes to arranging his own romantic future.

For every reader who adored Chocolat, Julia Stuart’s The Matchmaker of Périgord is a delectable, utterly enchanting, and sinfully satisfying delight.

(HarperCollins)

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BOOK REVIEW

When I saw that Joanne Harris of Chocolat fame described Julia Stuart’s debut novel The Matchmaker of Perigord as ‘a hilarious romp off the beaten track, love it to bits’, I knew I just had to read it.

Julia Stuart’s The Matchmaker of Perigord is a wonderfully quirky mix of opposites – old and new, hilarity and melancholy, mystic fancy and pragmatism.

Particularly charming is the relationship between protagonist Guillaume Laudocette and his friend since childhood, village baker Stephane Jollis.

‘But despite their bond, the baker knew nothing of the tumultuous state of Guillaume Ladoucette’s heart. The affliction was such that his doctor had taken one look down his ears and gasped at the decades’ worth of unwept tears.’

The affliction referred to is a bad case of lovesickness. In fact, its not just the out of work barber that’s lovesick – it seems the whole village of Amour-sur-Belle is. This fact dawning on Guillaume, the hapless matchmaker sets to work pairing up many of the quirky and misunderstood villagers.

The misguided but oh so endearing characters in Perigord include Patrice Baudin, the town’s vegetarian pharmacist who blew away in a mini-tornado; Jean-Francois Lafforest, the nervous council inspector charged with monitoring the communal shower; Gilbert Dubuisson, officious postman and avid gardener; Lisette Robert, discreet and curvaceous midwife; Sandrine Fournier, the ambulant fishmonger and alleged mushroom poisoner; and Violette the persistent chicken, just to name a few!

Lots of characters with lots of history and complex relationships between them for Guillaume to unravel. The question is, can the matchmaker of Perigord find love for himself?

Stuart’s prose is whimsical and filled with jaunts of charming description of both French rural scenes and mouthwatering cuisine. The Matchmaker of Perigord is such a fun and enjoyable read and Julia Stuart is a talented author – one to watch.

BOOK RATING: The Story 4 / 5 ; The Writing 4 / 5

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Genre: Drama, Romance, Humour

About the Author, Julia Stuart

Julia Stuart was first an award-winning journalist before publishing her debut novel The Matchmaker of Perigord and more recently Balthazar Jones and the Tower of London Zoo and The Pigeon Pie Mystery. Stuart grew up in England but now lives with her husband, also a journalist, in Bahrain.

– Julia Stuart lists a book I also enjoyed, Gabriel Garcia Marquez’s One Hundred Years of Solitude as one of her favourite novels.