During vacation, I read two fantastic beach reads, and they would be perfect choices for the armchair traveler as one takes you to the Perigord region of Southern France and the other one to Tuscany.
The first book, The Matchmaker of Perigord by Julia Stuart, wittily immerses you in French culture. If you enjoy reading Peter Mayle's books, I think you'd enjoy this one!
Barber Guillaume Ladoucette is a master barber and has always enjoyed great success in his tiny village in southwestern France's Amour-sur-Belle. But as his clientele have grown older and balder, many have sought the services of a Parisian-trained barber in a neighboring village. Now the residents of Amour-sur-Belle are sporting bizarre styles with even more bizarre names, like "the pinecone." Guillaume's lack of customers cause him to change careers mid-life: Guillaume sets-up shop as a matchmaker because according to Guillaume, everyone needs love in his or her life. At first, Guillaume's matches' initial dates are a disaster. Plus, he neglects his own needs and a second chance at dating his first love. While reading this book, I was wondering how in the world Guillame could possibly set things to rights in Amour-sur-Belle, but the ending is very surprising and cute. One thing I adored about this book is the omniscient narrator's voice. His use of repetition while telling the story reminds me of storytellers from long ago. This is truly a charming book, and I highly recommend it.