"A sometimes poignant but optimistic tale, George's Grand Tour is a heartwarming read in the vein of The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry and The Hundred-Year-Old Man Who Climbed Out of the Window and Disappeared that teaches us we're never too old to get out of our comfort zone and have an adventure.
At the age of eighty-three, retired butcher George Nicoleau is about to set off on the greatest adventure of his life. George and his neighbor Charles have long dreamt of a road trip, driving the 3,500 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?"
'George's Grand Tour' by Caroline Vermalle is a heart-warming tale about travel, family and friendship. I received an advance proof copy from Gallic Books to review.
Eighty-three year old George Nicoleau lives in Chanteloup, France. He has a number of health problems and is looked after by his overbearing daughter Françoise. He also has a twenty-two year old granddaughter, Adèle who he has barely seen in the past ten years.
Unexpectedly, Françoise decides to go on a two month trip to the Andes to take part in an endurance expedition and will not be able to contact George. George sees this as the perfect opportunity to embark on his own adventure with his neighbour Charles. They have been planning to do the Tour de France (by car of course!) and Françoise's departure is the perfect time to put this plan into action without being stopped. But then Adèle calls out of the blue to check up on him. Undeterred, he diverts all his calls to his mobile phone (which he has never used before) so Adèle thinks he is still at home. Not long into the trip however, Adèle works out what is happening and asks George to text her updates of his journey. George discovers that he loves it and manages to strike up a relationship with his granddaughter again through these texts. George and Charles make lots of new friends along the way and find out a lot more about themselves and each other.
This really was a truly heart-warming story and I thoroughly enjoyed taking every step of this journey with George and Charles. These two characters are just so loveable, and this book made me wish that my Grandpa was still around (I lost him when I was quite young and didn't really know him all that well).
This book really made me think about the importance of family. I know its cliché, but life is short and if you don’t make the time for your grandparents, you may never get the chance to have a relationship with them. I was so glad that George and Adèle got that chance in this book. Although they had barely spoken for 10 years they managed to reconnect again through travel and texting.
Adèle was a very interesting character, and a very relatable one too. She's about the same age as me as I read this book and I saw a lot of myself in her (although I'd never be brave enough to move to another country on my own!). She is a runner on a television set, working long hours for no pay and feeling unappreciated. It’s obvious that her texts from George really lightened her mood and I loved the seemingly impossible texts on her birthdays.
I adored George and Charles' relationship too, and it was great seeing how these characters went from neighbours to the best of friends over those few short weeks.
The little maps showing the next leg of the journey at the top of the chapters was a really nice touch too. Although I have to admit that I could not pronounce any of the French place names!
All in all this was a really beautiful and emotional novel and I would recommend it to anyone looking for a light read who doesn't mind blubbing a bit at the end.
I would give this book 5 stars :)
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