Monday 29 April 2024

The French Cookery School by Caroline James #TheFrenchCookerySchool @CarolineJames12 @0neMoreChapter_ @rararesources #MyLifeInBooks


Mix together a group of mature students:

A culinary Sloane, a take-away cook and a food journalist.

Add in:

A handsome host

Season with:

A celebrity chef

Bring to the boil:

At a luxurious cookery school in France!

Waltho Williams has no idea what he’s letting himself in for when he opens the doors of La Maison du Paradis, his beautiful French home. But with dwindling funds, a cookery school seems like the ideal business plan. 

Running away from an impending divorce, super-snob Caroline Carrington hopes a luxurious cookery holiday will put her back on her feet. Blackpool fish and chip café owner Fran Cartwright thinks she’s won the lottery when her husband Sid books her on a week working alongside a celebrity chef. Meanwhile, feeling she is fading at fifty, journalist Sally Parker-Brown hopes her press week covering the cookery course will enable her to boost her career.

But will the eclectic group be a recipe for success, or will the mismatched relationships sink like a souffle? 

Whip out an apron, grab a wooden spoon and take a culinary trip to La Maison du Paradis, then sit back and enjoy The French Cookery School!

The French Cookery School by Caroline James was published on 25 April 2024 by One More Chapter. As part of this Blog Tour organised by Rachel's Random Resources, I am delighted to welcome the author here to Random Things today. She's telling us about the books that are special to her, in My Life In Books 

My Life in Books - Caroline James 

Hello Anne and many thanks for inviting me to your excellent blog as I celebrate the publication of my new novel, The French Cookery School 

I was about fifteen when I first read this book, and it left such an impression on me that I left home a little while later. It is a powerful story about a group of young runaways from different backgrounds who meet in Torremolinos in the summer of ’69. Full of disenchantment and feeling adrift from the world during the Vietnam era, they travel to exotic locations with their hopes and dreams and experience a ‘summer of love’. It is a brilliant historical account of that era. Although it may feel outdated today, it is as powerful now as it was then.

“Food is Life. Life is Food.”

Keith Floyd is the most eloquent food writer and a brilliant cook. Cook, not chef – this was his term for himself. In this memoir about his roller-coaster life, he tells us of lost fortunes, four wives, the fame that he never really came to terms with and the ups and downs of his illustrious career. I adored Keith Floyd, and even today, many years after his death, I love to watch re-runs of his hilarious yet informative shows. But it was his writing style that hooked me. Floyd on food is like a symphony, a marriage of the best cuisine and finely honed descriptions that linger long after the taste buds have died. I followed Floyd’s footsteps to his beloved Kinsale to set a novel there, and he inspired me to write my own culinary tale. 

The Old Wives Tale – Arnold Bennet

I grew up in Cheshire on Stoke on Trent’s borders, near the five towns featured in this story. Arnold Bennet draws on his experience of life in the Potteries. The period detail is excellent as is the historical perspective of the German siege of Paris in the Franco-Prussian war of 1870. The main characters are the Baines sisters, who grew up in a local general store and the story is told from their viewpoints, tracing the arc of two very different lives. I have always been impressed that the author wrote so brilliantly from a woman’s perspective. It’s been a writing bible for me, and I’ve read it many times.

“A universally loved classic of twentieth-century literature.”

This is a story of disaffected youth, and having loathed my Grammar school, I was drawn to this book as a teen. I feel this is a book that you either love or hate. Holden Caulfield is a privileged but damaged sixteen-year-old privately educated in New York in the fifties. I felt connected to the character, possibly because my school years were also damaged. It’s about coming to terms with life through the eyes of a young person and navigating the challenges of growing up. It is a book I often return to. 

I’ve spent my life working in the hospitality industry, and I remember that I couldn’t turn the pages fast enough when I read this gripping expose from the King of the tell-all behind the culinary scenes. This isn’t about the cosy celebrity lives of the chefs we see on TV; this is a no-holds-barred on what really went on in the kitchens that Bourdain worked in during his fascinating life on the road. In the literary version of Kitchen Nightmares, he was ahead of his time, and his writing is superb.

My go-to book for inspiration. The Artist’s Way is a twelve-week programme that intends to capture the universe’s creative energy and thus undo your creative blocks. Using Julia Cameron’s carefully tested exercises – I found my writing life transformed. When I started writing in later life, I had no idea how to begin. Through the pages of this book, my first manuscript was born, and when I feel closed in and unable to turn up at the page, this is where I return. It’s a personal journey, but one I feel lucky to have trodden.

My favourite quotes:  
“Don’t let the old man in.” Clint Eastwood

“Don’t think twice, it’s alright.” Bob Dylan

Huge thanks again, Anne, and I do hope that readers enjoy The French Cookery School  - I wish you and your visitors many happy reading hours. 
Warmest wishes, Caroline xx

Caroline James always wanted to write, but instead of taking a literary route, followed a career in the
hospitality industry, which included owning a pub and a beautiful country house hotel. 

She was also a media agent representing celebrity chefs. 

When she finally glued her rear to a chair and began to write, the words flowed, and several novels later, she has gained many bestseller badges for her books.

The French Cookery School is Caroline’s tenth novel. 

Previously, The Cruise, described as: ‘Girl power for the over sixties!’ was an Amazon Top Ten Best Seller. 

Caroline’s hilarious novels include The Spa Break and The Best Boomerville Hotel, depicted as ‘Britain’s answer to the Best Marigold Hotel’.

She likes to write in Venus, her holiday home on wheels and in her spare time, walks with Fred, her Westie, or swims in a local lake. 

Caroline is a member of the Romantic Novelists Association, the SOA, ARRA and the Society of Women’s Writers & Journalists. 

She is also a speaker with many amusing talks heard by a variety of audiences, including cruise ship guests.

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