“A very funny novel with some truly delicious characters!” Natasha Harding, Books Editor, Sun Newspaper
Alpha O’ Mara can’t write. She is a first time novelist with a novel that just won’t come. Troy, Alpha’s gay Australian agent in Brighton, is panicking. But where to go if you are struggling to find the muse? Rural France, the deepest French countryside, la France profonde. A place of beauty where Alpha imagines her literary heroines George Sand and Simone de Beauvoir would recline in their salons, preparing to create.
Alpha wants to revive the passion in her marriage to Will. He has withdrawn since his Architect’s practice went under. France will revive everything! The ‘good life’, la vie en rose begins. A novel to write and a compliant husband, hot and passionate. Divine! N’est-ce pas?
Sitting in the grounds of her French Manor House, trying to write, Alpha encounters many unexpected and unwelcome distractions: Will, chief groundsman is feeling overwhelmed; Thomaz, her loyal Au Pair is secretly cultivating marijuana plants in their barn; Pip, her pooch, with genital complications and Alpha’s children Dex (11) and Maisie (9) are given to noisy football and trampoline sessions. Not easy to write either if you have entered the seething snake pit of the British ex-pat community.
Wife-swapping couples, builders and their wives ‘dogging’ in the local car park and Beth of Bath, a vicious Queen Bee, a bread-baking Christian who wages war on Alpha, an avowed Atheist. The sign wars begin! Beth tries to wreck Alpha’s marriage and when her own husband is arrested for selling stolen cars, Beth, a former ‘Madame’ of a brothel, sets fire to Alpha’s barns. Finally, losing the plot, Beth ends up begging on the streets.
The French are no better: xenophobic hissing builders at their gates, and a Dutch ‘wheeler-dealer’ Reiki Healer who puts pressure on Alpha to buy the surrounding land. If they don’t, the French builders will whack up pre-fabs – blocking their views and closing their business. Pressure mounts! When Maisie mistakes the marijuana that Thomaz is cultivating for tobacco and sells it to her classmates, Madame Beaufrere, the school’s Head of Discipline, sends shock waves into the local French community. Alpha and family are shunned. Raymond, the ghost of Alpha’s father, a successful novelist, keeps popping up, chivvying her to write. When Raymond falls in love with Marie-Elisabette, an 18th century ghost haunting ‘Le Manoir’. What ensues is merry hell!
There are romantic distractions too: Jean-Luc, the gorgeous ‘Maître D’ of the Château, whom Alpha wrongly assumes is heterosexual; Rik, the chisel-jawed Belgian oil painter deep in the woods and Lou-Lou, the hard-drinking local farmer, who becomes Alpha’s protector. A secret Transsexual, Lou-Lou declares his passion for Alpha. He is still a man underneath, if not on top! Still in love with Will, but unable to inflame his passion, Alpha, lonely and frustrated, strays deep into the woods to find comfort with Rik. In Rik’s bubbling hot tub, the flesh weakens …
Will returns to the UK to find work as the money runs out and bailiffs hover, Alpha stays behind, unable to leave her beloved French home. To sell or to stay? Alpha slips into fantasy, taking solace in the views of hills and sunflower fields. Raymond warns: you can’t eat the view and when Scarlett O’Hara and Rhett Butler drop by to offer advice, Raymond pulls Alpha back to reality. Alpha wakes up, shocked by Beth’s fire and the risk to her children. Writing around the clock, freezing, starving, Alpha finishes her novel. Alpha sells her French dream home and returns to the UK, realising that beauty alone is not enough. The view can inspire but it won’t foot the bills. Someone must pay.
Read an extract from ‘Eat the View’ – Chapter 1 – 3
‘Brimming with colourful characters and driven by a sharp mix of narrative and dialogue, in “Eat the View” Barbara Jane Mackie has created a witty Anglo-French entertainment to tickle the soul. “Eat the View” is warm and uplifting, literary Chic-lit perfect for holiday or bedtime.
Andrew Lucas, Award-winning Author. ‘Cross Dressed to Kill.’