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Vantastic France Paperback – Feb 6 2012

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 222 pages
  • Publisher: CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform (Feb. 6 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 146996032X
  • ISBN-13: 978-1469960326
  • Product Dimensions: 13.3 x 1.3 x 20.3 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 318 g
  • Average Customer Review: Be the first to review this item
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #2,958,588 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Product Description

About the Author

Steve Bichard was born in Guernsey on the Channel Islands. He has travelled widely, but now spends a great deal of time in France where the novel is based.

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) HASH(0xa0235c30) out of 5 stars 8 reviews
6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0xa13a7030) out of 5 stars Needs Editing!! May 1 2012
By Leslie M. Ficcaglia - Published on
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
The previous reviewer has a much better command of punctuation than the author; I'm surprised that he didn't notice the distracting errors. Commas are missing in many places, even where their lack changes the meaning, as in "Well we could well have Sharon." instead of "Well, we could well have, Sharon." The dialogue in the book is also stilted and cliché-ridden; for some reason the writer doesn't like contractions, so conversations sound stiff and unnatural (e.g. "I have" instead of "I've" in a casual discussion). His use of tenses is odd, too; he begins some paragraphs in the past tense and then switches to the present in a manner which is confusing ("...their standard of renovation was more suited to a French chateau... His way, which is more cost effective...") I started reading this last night and stopped after several pages because it just wasn't what I had expected. I've bought other inexpensive Kindle books before and some have been real gems: well-conceived, well-edited, and well-written. This isn't one of those.

Updated to add: Now that I've gone back and read the book, it's a good story and an interesting read. If the author has a more rigorous editor go over it and reissues it, it will be a lot better. A good editor would also have picked up his changing the name of one character from Étienne to Pascal, and changing the spelling of another character's name from Clare to Claire. Details, but all together they can really affect a reading experience!
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0xa01e3c30) out of 5 stars French Romp Oct. 24 2013
By Paulita - Published on
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I liked that this book took a different tact. Rarely do we see characters who are a working class family decide to move to France. The author definitely takes aim at all the middle-class families who move from the UK to France and then look down their noses at the French.
I enjoyed these characters. Some parts of the book jumped around and were confusing, but I was able to let go of those and enjoy the adventure. Overall the story was fun.
2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0xa0caa12c) out of 5 stars Really "Van-Tastic"!! March 10 2012
By Beth H. - Published on
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
"Living the dream" usually comes with a price, as Steve Bichard's Kindle version clearly demonstrates. As an American, I had a difficult time "getting" some of the references at first, but the context provided in the plot subtleties quickly had me catching on and empathizing with these "ex-pats", Linda and Barry, and their desire to improve quality of life through their move to the beautiful French countryside. Once there, they are not necessarily greeted with open arms, mainly due to the snobbery of neighbor Clarissa and some old business of Barry's (often compounded by his rotten temper!). Intrigue and old secrets, coupled with new complications run rampant, in contrast with the quiet and peaceful countryside that is meant to soothe rather than agitate.
Bichard's characters are quite realistic and immediately relatable for anyone who has ever been in the shoes of a newcomer. Barry's temper and Clarissa's mean-spiritedness highlight the imperfections of each, but also show that they are human, susceptible to their own weaknesses by reacting to situations presented as they are used to by habit. Dialogue is bright and witty, and true to each character. Linda's and Barry's love for each other is obvious through their well-written and realistic banter, for example.
The content of the plot is filled not only with information to benefit the English to French translation for the do-it-yourselfer, but also with some intriguing twists and turns to keep the reader entertained to see if it all turns out all right in the end! I do recommend this book for the information and entertainment value, equally!
HASH(0xa089d288) out of 5 stars An Entertaining Light Read Sept. 11 2012
By Francine - Published on
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Readers looking for deep and meaningful content look elsewhere! This is a simple story told in a simple way. It tells of the move to France of a couple and a teenage son who have bought a run down farm in Brittany in the hope of establishing a better life for them all. Once there, they encounter hostilities from fellow ex pat neighbours, one of whom turns out to be connected with the main character, Barry, in his past. This is the main interest in the plot.The couple, Barry and Linda, have financial problems while waiting for their house to sell in England. They renovate some farm buildings as gites.

I found the characters, while likeable,somewhat stereotypical and lacking in depth. The neighbour, Clarissa, echoes the character of Hyacinth in "Keeping Up Appearances" if you are familiar with that "comedy". For me, as the main antagonist at the beginning, she lacked credibility and I found it hard to believe that such a person could exist. Her comments were clichéd and predictable.

Once the mystery surrounding the past connection between Barry and his neighbour was revealed, the reaction by the characters affected by the complex situation was not explored sufficiently, in my opinion, which left this reader wanting.The relationship between Barry and Linda which had been built up during the chapters to be strong, made me doubt the credibility of events at the end.

There is little information about French culture if that is what interests you as a reader.To sum up, "Vantastic" is a pleasant read but leaves this reader feeling that it was all a bit too contrived.
HASH(0xa03dcfb4) out of 5 stars A fun, easy read set in an expat community in Brittany May 7 2015
By FrenchVillageDiaries - Published on
Format: Kindle Edition
When living abroad you do tend to find yourself flung into the local expat community, but just because we have come from the same place and arrived in the same place there is no standard ‘one size fits all’ expat, and you will find yourself mixing with people who back in the UK your paths would never have crossed. You soon learn who is likely to enrich your life and who to politely avoid – sometimes your choices surprise you! Also, daily life as an expat is not the same as being on holiday and there can be just as many downs as ups.

In Vantastic France Steve Bichard has done a really good job of describing the highs and lows of a new family settling into rural Brittany and finding their place amongst their French neighbours and the expats already there. It is a fun, easy read that in many places had me laughing and nodding in agreement. I’m sure many other expats reading it will find themselves thinking ‘oh yes, I’ve met a Clarissa or a Barry before’. I certainly had a great affinity with Linda and her vegetable growing. This is Steve’s first novel and I thought it moved along very well and the ending has been left in a great place for a follow up, as I’m sure Steve has plenty more stories for the loveable rogue Barry and his long suffering wife Linda. My only small criticism would be that at times some things are a little over explained, which I found a bit unnecessary.

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