A French Affair
David Shutts

A French Affair


Voters Rating 602 / 1000



When two British couples emigrate to a small hamlet in Dordogne, France, they are hoping to enjoy a slower pace of life, filled with a community of like-minded people.

Paul is a likeable, no-frills builder, missing home. His wife, Pat, is a bossy know-it-all who demands public recognition for all her accomplishments.

James is an unpublished children’s author, married to the rather wet Val. Smitten by France and keen to become part of the scenery, they enlist Pat and Paul’s help in converting the ruin they've just bought.

All turns sour as the French landscape and its traditions are polluted by the commune’s very English inhabitants. Fuelled by too-much French wine and long-standing tensions, vengeful plans are hatched, wreaking havoc on the entire community.

The renovation work continues, but can anything be faithfully restored from these bloody ruins?

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Down the road at the end of the hamlet a new couple had just confirmed they were going to buy the dilapidated barn and attached tiny cottage. Pat was ecstatic. The couple were English, slightly younger, both with an ‘arts’ based background and both desperate to live the dream. He was called James and was a schoolteacher-turned-writer. She was called Valerie and had been a classroom assistant working at the same school. No children; Pat didn’t know why and nor did she care. Their offer on the Ruin, the name given by Pat and Paul to the barn and cottage as a bit of humour, had been accepted and the deal was going through. Although that was big news in itself, Pat was more delighted. James and Val had been inside their house for a coffee and had done nothing apart from exclaim how marvellous Pat’s house was. The phrase, ‘Oh Pat, it’s beautiful,’ must have been said 20 times by Val as Pat showed the couple around their pride and joy. Pat was in rapture. Everything they’d been doing for the last four years was suddenly apparent to her. They were living her dream and here was a couple who wanted exactly the same thing and were openly acknowledging Pat’s success to date. As Pat had pointed out to Paul, it was wonderful doing what they’d done but now to have such acclaim for their efforts was the icing on the cake. Paul was relatively unmoved but conceded it might be fun to have some more Brits in the hamlet.

‘Sorry, Paul, but you don’t understand,’ Pat explained. ‘James and Val aren’t remotely DIY people. They love our place and were wondering whether you would be prepared to take on the renovation work.’

Paul’s spark re-ignited. Once again he could do what he loved most and what he was able to do best, the big difference being that this time he’d get paid. His mind started to gather pace; he had some fantastic ideas for the house but he needed to speak to the couple to discuss what they wanted. No problem, Pat told him, they’d be back in four weeks to sign some paperwork and all could be discussed then. They’d stay with them for a long weekend, discuss the property and do a deal. Paul could be the builder and Pat the interior designer.

‘Wouldn’t it be fantastic?’ Pat pined. ‘Another house with our ideas and thoughts and a couple so keen that they’d even pay us money.’

‘They do know it’s a ruin, don’t they?’ asked Paul one day. ‘There’s a lot of work to do to even make it remotely ok to live in.’

‘Course they do, Paul. That’s why they want. No,’ she corrected herself. ‘That’s why they need us.’

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