In the tiny French town of Amour-sur-Belle, the residents are aging, and life for many has grown stale. Facing reduced circumstances owing to the increasing loss of hair among his clientele, local barber Guillaume Ladoucette has decided to embark on a new career-as the town matchmaker. Unfortunately, his talents with relationships are nowhere near as sharp as his old barbering scissors, and before long the residents of this charming hamlet are involved in a series of romantic misadventures. No one is spared-not the dentist, the midwife, the middle-aged, or the elderly; childhood enemies and unrequited passions all find a chance at love. Even Guillaume himself gets caught up in the madness when his own long-lost childhood love returns to town-divorced, eccentric, and as beautiful as ever. 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. Highly recommended for all fiction collections.
Villagers in a small French town search for love. Bachelor barber Guillaume Ladoucette finds himself stagnating in Amour-sur-Belle. Time seems to have forgotten the southwestern village. News still travels via the grapevine, not instant message. Meals are still something to be planned and savored, not nuked in the microwave. And love? Love is an intricate dance, a game of cat and mouse, not an anonymous hookup via MySpace. Amour-sur-Belle is a charming place, to be sure, but Guillaume has a problem: Business is drying up as the population of the hamlet ages. Rather than take early retirement or decamp from his beloved home, he decides to reinvent himself. He packs away his shears and opens Heart's Desire, a matchmaking service. After a few stalled efforts, it turns out Guillaume has a knack for giving his customers what they need-which doesn't always jibe with what they want. Soon just about every unmarried townsperson catches the love bug and lands on his doorstep. Devising dating schemes doesn't eat up much of the retired barber's day. His new business affords him ample time to tend to his garden and concoct glorious picnics. Indeed, even with his gastronomic pursuits, Guillaume feels a void in his life. Decades ago, his childhood love, Emilie Fraisse, slipped away and married another. Now she's returned to town, giving the still hopelessly smitten Guillaume a chance to make his most significant pairing. Following these gentle folks on their blind dates and awkward reentries into the field of romance is a sweet and simple pleasure. First-time novelist Stuart would have benefited from more editing, but she does manage to richly evoke the fecund sights and smells of rural France. Aslightly verbose, yet still delightful, excursion to a kinder, gentler place. Agent: Grainne Fox/Ed Victor Ltd.