Book Review: A Place in France: An Indian Summer


  • Authors: Nigel Farrell and Reza Mahammad

    A  Place in France Book Cover

    Click on image to buy this book

  • Paperback: 256 pages (March 5, 2004)
  • Publisher: Pan
  • ISBN: 0330431390
  • This is an enchanting and very funny tale of an Englishman, Nigel, and his bumbling, yet confident and postive, attempts to renovate a home and set-up a new life and business in the Ardeche in France. The Channel 4 series the book is based on was a surprise hit.

    So if you’ve seen the series why buy the book? It’s simple. The book fills in the gaps from the series – especially concentrating on the sequence of events from inception through to the restuarant opening and follow up. The apparent lack of thought as to whether the idea would be successful is well-documented. The book also gives a much greater insight into the characters and their real views about one another. It’s funny to read both Reza’s and Nigel’s accounts of the same event which are often at odds. We also hear the views of the TV production team which give a totally different, often (unintentionally) funny slant. For example Charlie commenting on Nigel’s women troubles: “Two girls? Fantastic! You can never have too much love interest!”

    If you haven’t seen the series you are in for an even greater treat. There are some real characters. We have

  • Nigel – the eternal optimist looking for a new start
  • Nippy – a serious, business-minded Sikh
  • Reza – a flamboyant, creative perfectionist
  • Celine – the ‘ is she? isn’t she?’ young French girlfriend of NigelThe book is a real page-turner. You really want to find out what will happen next. What is going on with Celine and Nigel? Will Reza lose patience with Nigel? Will the Restaurant ever actually open? Will it be a sucess? Will Nippy throw a spanner in the works?Nigel Farrell may well do for the Ardeche what Peter Mayle did for Provence. He paints a very attractive picture of a Region of France I (for one) knew little about.

    Reza Mahammad has Star potential. I hope we will see a lot more of him. It’s amazing that before the TV programme he was mainly known as the owner of the hugely successful Indian Restaurant The Star of India. It’s something of a ‘feature’ on the Chelsea scene being well known for a great ambience and fresh, flavour-some dishes. Some of Reza’s own recipes are printed at the back of the book. 

  • Reza’s restaurant: The Star of India, 154 Old Brompton Road, London, SW5. Tel: 020 7373 2901.
  • Reviewed by Patrick Harrington


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