The nice thing about debut novels is that your expectation is set pretty low as you have nothing previously to base your opinion on. When I got this book I was quite surprised as it was a lot smaller than what I thought I would get for a debut novel at a mere 280 pages. However, undeterred I made a start on this book and soon found myself in the thick of things in Fogas.
I found it a little slow to start with but a few chapters in and I was beginning to get a feel for the characters living in this small French village. We meet all sorts of different people from Josette, the owner of a small shop and makeshift bar, to Serge Papon the Mayor, to the postmistress Veronique. In addition to these after a few chapters we meet the English couple, Lorna and Paul, who are unwittingly the talk of the village. The characters were all easy enough to get a grasp of but if ound it difficult to get a feel for a few of them and Josette the shop owner as well as Christian, the deputy mayor, was another. I persevered and let the story tell itself, hoping that the non-connection with a few characters wouldn't matter.
Luckily overall it didn't have that much of an impact but left me feeling a little bit like something was missing. From the point of view of the story itself, it is something I can imagine has happened many times in many different small villages across the world. There is nothing like new people trying something new to get villagers worried. In the case of L'Auberge it is no different. We see the Mayor and his plotting revenge on the English couple and the struggle they have against all the local anger and foreign red tape.
I enjoyed the setting and think Julia Stagg did a grand job of describing what sounded like a very quaint village in France. The ending was wrapped up nicely and there was a romantic element for a couple of characters thrown in too.
I certainly enjoyed this book but my main gripe was that I didn't connect with a couple of the characters and ended up feeling like the story was just that tad too short. Having said that, I really liked the style of writing and it was certainly an enjoyable read. The great thing about debut novels is that if you enjoyed it you have a solid start. After all her books can only get better and for that reason I am really looking forward to reading the next one.