At the ripe old age of 83, George Nicoleau is embarking on the Tour de France. Thankfully, he’s tackling it by car, accompanied by his neighbour, Charles. George’s overbearing daughter Françoise is safely out of contact in Peru, granting him two months of freedom to go on this much cherished road trip, without the very high risk of inciting her disapproval.

However, just before they depart, George’s estranged granddaughter, Adele, calls from London to check up on him, presumably at Françoise’s request. They haven’t spoken in years, but George quickly lets slip his ambitious travel plans. Concerned, Adele persuades her grandfather to learn how to use his phone to communicate with her throughout his trip via text message.

After acquainting himself with modern technology, George discovers that it can help him to reconnect with his granddaughter – and before long their daily correspondence becomes the highlight of each day. On the open road, with his friend by his side and Adele just a text message away, George couldn’t be happier… but unforeseen turns of events are just around the corner, preparing to bring a halt to his decidedly pleasurable new lease of life.

Sweet and surprisingly moving for a ‘light read’, this hugely endearing novel tackles a number of unexpectedly poignant themes, gently reminding us to value our nearest and dearest above all else.

George’s Grand Tour by Caroline Vermalle. $14.95. Published by Gallic Books.

From France Today magazine

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