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A rich and beautiful story of a romance, an obsession and an almost impossible dream. For seven years Flavia Pollard had given her London bistro her love and energy, but it was a love fuelled by bitterness from a disastrous marriage, followed by a fruitless affair. It was time to move on... Kelly Park in Cornwall is the childhood home of Flavia's old friend Humphrey Jarvis. Now she has the chance to restore the house to its former glory and reopen it as a country-house hotel - and, unexpectedly, to fall in love with more than just a house.
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Stubbs follows her excellent, complex Light in Summer (1991) with this less successful tale of a female chef who transforms a crumbling English villa into a prosperous country inn--wherein the heroine's motives remain less than clear and the plot surprisingly predictable and trite. At nearly 40, Flavia Pollard has already paid more than enough dues, having lost custody of her two sons to a vindictive ex- husband, launched a successful London bistro only to be forced to sell when her partner/lover betrayed her, and ended up alone in a basement apartment with little more than half the proceeds of the restaurant sale. By chance, Humphrey Jarvis, an old admirer, sends Flavia to recuperate at his sprawling country manor in Cornwall, and Flavia realizes almost instantly, despite Kelly Park's extremely dilapidated condition, that at last she's found a project she can love. Within weeks, Flavia has convinced Humphrey to help finance the mansion's transformation into an up-market country hotel, featuring a gourmet restaurant, with Flavia as chef and hostess. A few minor problems arise when Tom Faull, a handsome local rake who's down on his luck, prevails on softhearted Humphrey to let him fix up the stables as a place to live--thereby siphoning off money that might have gone to Flavia--but a real wrench is thrown into the works when Flavia's ex-partner tries to force her to let him in on this promising new venture. The solution is obvious: Lonely Flavia and floundering Tom must unite against their common enemy. That they unite in the biblical sense as well comes as no surprise; neither does Humphrey's sudden and very convenient heart attack; and the ensuing, elaborate treasure hunt for the all- important will is no more than an embarrassment. While Stubbs manages one or two vigorous, unvarnished scenes, on the whole Flavia remains a sullen enigma, Tom a typical romance-novel hero, and their love affair an inert literary contrivance. A minor disappointment from an accomplished writer. -- Copyright ©1992, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved.From Publishers Weekly:
Almost 40, divorced, Flavia Polland is forced to choose a new direction for her life after her lover and partner in their popular London bistro abandons both her and the business in 1978. As this high-spirited and lovingly detailed novel reveals, the process can be painful and hazardous. Flavia rethinks her options at Parc Celli (anglicized to Kelly Park), the venerable but faded Cornwall estate of old friend and man-about-town Humphrey Jarvis. Quickly grasping the possibilities inherent in the old manor house, she suggests turning it into a first-rate inn: gracious, hospitable and, of course, enhanced by her own renowned cooking. Humphrey is ambivalent, but agrees and promises cash. The clannish townspeople, wary at first, warm to Flavia as they recognize the prospect of steady employment. And Humphrey's old friend, roguish Tom Faull, shows up to organize a colorful workforce of idiosyncratic villagers. But, as Stubbs ( Light in Summer ) chronicles Flavia's exploits with wry wit, nothing proceeds as planned. Her tale is a well-orchestrated mix of complex personalities and lush countryside locale linked by ingenious plotting.
Copyright 1992 Reed Business Information, Inc.
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