Wednesday, July 3, 2013

9 Heart Review: Bordeaux Housewives by Daisy Waugh

Bordeaux Housewives
Daisy Waugh

Page Count: 420

Release Date: 1 August 2006
Publisher: Harper (Harper Collins UK)
Source: Complimentary copy provided by TripFiction in exchange for an honest and unbiased review (thank you, Tina!)
Rating: ♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥♥

Who hasn't dreamed of running away from it all?

The Haunt family have gone and done it. On an impulse, Maude, her husband Horatio and their two small children have left their tiny London terrace for the sunflower fields and the vie rustique of Southern France.

Up the road, the scruffy Hotel Marronnier is about to change hands again. Daffy Fielding has fallen in love with the place and has dragged her husband to France to persuade him to buy it. Which he does—before heading straight back home to his mistress. Can timid Daffy make a life for herself alone?

Watching over all the new arrivals is the glamorous, predatory, eternally bored Lady Emma Rankin. From her exquisite château nearby, she pulls strings to bring the new wives together. But is it Horatio, rather than Maude, who she really wants to sip Sancerre with? Or is her eye on the gorgeous local builder, the only one of them all who is party to the Haunt family's explosive secret?

Review


Voiced in a playful, darkly comical tone, Bordeaux Housewives lives up to the words in its title in that it's airy and exquisite—Bordeaux—and at the same time, fierce and dangerously thrilling—housewivesWhile I will be the first to acknowledge there isn't anything highly substantial or literarily tasteful about this book, it's a hell of a fun, flirty read, and it's one that should be accompanied by a glass of champagne and a sunny day—if only for pure entertainment.

The secrets and dreams and fears of Maude, Daffy, and Emma, our delightful housewives—and I say delightful in the broadest sense because once you see the ruthlessness, paranoia, and human inadequacy in them yourself, you may start thinking differently—are not only hysterical to keep up with, but also inanely human, which is why I loved the characters so much. Waugh introduces a unique, vivid cast of charming characters who are so easy to relate to and even easier to fall in love with. They're rather two-dimensional, tending to have the shallowest of weaknesses, and their rightful happily ever afters are a little saccharine, yes, but I adored them so much, I feel they deserve their happy (or not so happy) endings. They make poor decisions solely in the name of creating drama and can be annoyingly flimsy, but they are, if anything, memorable. They weren't written to give lessons or teach morals, so I don't hold anything against them; I think the characterization is, while only developed on the surface, one of the strongest aspects of the novel.

The Haunts run an undercover business beneath their sickeningly perfect cloak of domesticity—down to the sun-kissed children and house in the south of France—and get into all sorts of senseless trouble. Maude is starkly plain, and yet she's one of my favorite characters because of the reckless way her mind works. Horatio wins the "most clueless husband" award for sure, but he's equally funny and just delightful.

Daffy's life is a little bleaker. Stranded Bordeaux alone due to her pig of a husband's demands, she's the passive, obtuse character I expected to hate, but ended up cheering for, by the end of the book. She's ridiculously helpless and even a little pathetic, but she's so frail, so comically flawed, that even she hits a nerve.

And then there's Emma. Shameless thing, but a delight of a character to read about. She's unscrupulous and immensely dislikable, but that's her charm; she's toxic, but she's delicious. I loved her even though I wasn't supposed to!

The setting, I also am enchanted by. Reminiscent of the French countryside, from the fresh vegetables, the yummy men, the warm atmosphere, Bordeaux sounds homey, endearing, and even a little magical, which provides a marvelous escape. For those of you who've always wanted to run off to France: live vicariously through Bordeaux Housewives!


Pros


Hilarious // Charming // Makes me want to live in Bordeaux! // Each and every character captivated me in their own way // Pace is slow but the pages turn quickly! I finished this one before I knew it // The perfect breezy read

Cons


Slow start // Characters aren't could-be-your-best-friend realistic // Rather unexciting and absent plot

Love

It was the single piece of advice [her husband] gave to her: watch out, Daphne, [the French] all hate you. Because we won the Battle of Britain, or something, he said (she'd watched his raspberry lips moving). The Battle of something-something and something else. Lots of battles. We'd also won the Olympic bid, the war in Iraq, and there was something about a C.A.P. or S.C.A.R.F.E. or a pair of S.U.N.G.L.A.S.S.E.S. (her joke).

Verdict


While the story of Daisy Waugh's British chick-lit novel itself is nothing groundbreaking—it's mildly amusing, at most—the twisted situations three seemingly discordant families get themselves into—as well as the twisted way in which they are all connected—are brilliant. The plot thickens as words said and unsaid meddle with their lives, and the ensuing chaos is an absolute hoot. With charming characters, tongue-in-cheek humor, and a carefree, casual style akin to that of Sophie Kinsella, Bordeaux Housewives relays the juicily constructive—and of course, mistakingly destructive—power of gossip, as well as the appreciation for free will, justice, and of course, true love Americanflag

9 hearts: Loved it! This book has a spot on my favorites shelf (x)