The Matchmaker of Prigord

Julia Stuart, Author . Harper $13.95 (318p) ISBN 978-0-06-143507-2

Unhappy cutting hair, Guillaume, the barber of the tiny, declining French town of Amour-sur-Belle, renames his shop Heart’s Desire and tries his hand at matchmaking, even though he lost his first love, Emilie, years ago. Guillaume soon proves hopeless: he can’t even help his best friend, Yves Leveque, whose heartaches have actually caused him indigestion. When Emilie returns to Amour-sur-Belle a rich divorcée, and sets about restoring a dilapidated old chateau that once brought tourists to the city, she enlivens the slumping town’s eligible suitors and the town wags who watch their every move. Debut novelist Stuart infects Amour-sur-Belle’s byzantine lore with whimsy (a mini-tornado that made the town pharmacist disappear), the usual beefs (an age-old feud, which began with Guillaume’s mother) and sensual detail. It’s all done well enough, but a reliance on magical-realist elements to resolve the town’s spiraling affairs makes for an unsatisfying resolution. (Aug.)

Reviewed on: 04/14/2008
Release date: 08/01/2008
Paperback - 381 pages - 978-0-552-77363-8
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