George’s Grand Tour by Caroline Vermalle – Review

Published by Gallic Books

Publication date – 16 March 2015

Source – review copy from Publishers

Translated by Anna Aitken


“At the age of 83, retired butcher George Nicoleau is about to set off on the greatest adventure of his life. George and his neighbour Charles have long dreamt of a road trip, driving the 3500 kilometres that make up the stages of the Tour de France. And now that George’s over‐protective daughter has gone to South America, it’s time to seize the moment.

But just when he feels free of family ties, George’s granddaughter Adèle starts calling him from London, and he finds himself promising to text her as he travels around France, although he doesn’t even know how to use a mobile.

George is plagued by doubts, health worries and an indifference to modern technology. And yet – might the journey still prove to be everything he had hoped for?”

4 0f 5 stars

I received a copy of this book from the publishers and this is my honest opinion of the book.

George is 83 and dreams of adventure. The sudden departure of his loving but overbearing daughter gives George the opportunity to live his dream. He and his friend Charles are to drive the route of the Tour de France. The car is bought, the bags are packed and are ready to set off when George receives a call from his granddaughter Adele. Adele extracts a promise that George will text her daily as he goes on his trip and he reluctantly agrees. So begins George’s Grand Tour, perhaps the grandest of his life.

This is a charming tale of George. Tired of being confined to home, smothered by his well meaning daughter, he doesn’t want to wait out his days at home. The gleeful, almost child like excitement at the planned trip and adventures to come make you realise that life doesn’t have to end when the years advance. George’s adventure involves more than he realises as he comes to grips with modern technology and goes on his first date in over 50 years.

It is less than 200 pages but packs a lot into them. There are lots of little comedic touches in this short tale, George learning to ‘text speak’ is one such example.

The references to the Tour de France went over my head but I loved the travelogue side of the story. I could imagine the places George and Charles were visiting, opening up parts of France that were not familiar to me before.

The book is filled with wonderful characters. George, Charles and Adele are all flawed, have issues but are also warm, surprising and fun individuals. George is cantankerous, Charles has his secrets and Adele conflicted about the distance she has created with her Grandfather. Even the incidental characters are not out of place, fully formed, easily imagined and adding that essential layer to the story.

As I read more French Literature I am more convinced of its charm and magic. It is firmly becoming a favourite and this little book has added to that conviction.

There’s little else I can say without giving the story away. You’ll just have to take a trip with George yourself to find out more.

This story shows that life can ‘begin’ at any age. It is never too late to go on an adventure, make new friends, find romance or rekindle family relations.


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