Published by Lyn on 10 April 2013
Guest reviewer Jacqueline Brown joins Maribeth Clemente (and her boyfriend) on their cycle ride across France in A Tour of the Heart.
Sometimes there are books you pick up that just click – it could be writing style or subject matter, or both. A Tour of the Heart: A Seductive Cycling Trip Through France was one of those books for me. Yes, it is set in France and, yes, travelling and cycling are involved, but it is more than just a cycle tour of France book – it has the added the emotions of a good chicklit in it too.
Clemente, now based in America, lived in France for 11 years. An established travel writer, she is the author of several guidebooks to France (mostly centred on shopping). Her most recent book is as much about the journey of her relationship with her new(ish) boyfriend as the journey they take through France, and I enjoyed the personal side of the story. Cycling with a mechanically minded man is never easy, and I know, but to undertake a trip like this relatively early in their relationship was quite a test. (Maribeth, you are not the only one to have had the gear-changing lecture as you are cycling along, or been left lagging far behind.)
From the beginning I loved Clemente’s style, the descriptions of the areas they visit and their meals transported me from the cold foggy winter into the delights of holidaying in France. Although I will admit to being insanely jealous of the doors that opened to her because of her status as 'journaliste americaine'.
The book is set in two parts, the first part is their journey through France; the second is about their return to cover the 2001 Tour de France. Set at the height of Lance Armstrong’s fame (things have a different edge to them now), she certainly portrays the hype and excitement of the time.
This is probably not the book for you if you are looking for a book on cycling in France, as, like her companion Pete, you may find there is not enough actual cycling in it. However Clemente is a travel writer who has a real love of France, so it is no surprise that her descriptions of France, the places they visited and the food they tasted stayed with me long after I finished reading this book.
A Tour of the Heart: A Seductive Cycling Trip Through France by Maribeth Clemente is available as an ebook and in paperback.
Jacqueline runs the excellent French Village Diaries blog. This review first appeared on her blog.
Jacqueline and her family like nothing better than packing a picnic and setting off for the day to follow one of the many marked bike routes around the French countryside.