The Matchmaker of Perigord
Harper, Aug 2008, $13.95
Guillaume Ladoucette, the only barber in aging Amour-sur-Belle, France struggles with his business in decline because his customers are reaching the age of baldness. He also is somewhat bored with life in his village except for the elaborate meals in which time has ignored the microwave generation.
The bachelor wonders how he can remake himself and his shop. He comes up with what he assumes is a brilliant plan of being a matchmaker as he knows all there is about love having lost his Emilie years ago to a much wealthier suitor. Guillaume changes his tonsorial shop to Heart's Desire and tests his service with his best friend, Yves Leveque, who suffers heartburn from his failed relationships. After decades away Emilie returns home as an affluent divorcée with plans to restore the town’s rundown chateau to bring back the tourists who once flocked to the village. Guillaume believes she came home for him so the matchmaker works on himself.
This is an engaging whimsical tale that although occurring in the present invokes a bygone pre-Internet era. The characters make the story line fun to read as Guillaume arranges dates that fail yet somehow assist his clients with what they need and not what they want in a sort of turning upside down the belie the customer is always right. Although somewhat padded and the ill-advised use of enchanted “tiles” to resolve some relationship issues seems off kilter in spite of the fanciful quirkiness, fans will enjoy a charming trip to rural France guided by Julia Stuart.