George’s Grand Tour by Caroline Vermalle, trans. by Anna Aitken


After the grimly intense, beautifully written After the Fire, a Still Small Voice, I was ready for a cream puff of a book. George’s Grand Tour, reviewed by Reading Matters, fit the bill.

Two elderly neighbors plan to follow the route of a previous Tour de France in a car. George can only do this because his hovering daughter will be incommunicado in Peru for two months. A monkey wrench appears to be thrown in the works when his granddaughter calls from England and although she’s been out of his life for years, promises to call back in a few days. If he fails to answer the phone, she will alert her mother.

He solves this problem by learning to use text messaging and thus begins their adventures which force them into new worlds of many sorts. Their route is in Brittany and the western regions of the Loire valley; the descriptions of their travels are pleasant references to interesting spots. They visit St. Malo, the coastal town where the channel and the Atlantic Ocean meet and the setting for much of the book All the Light We Cannot See. This area was also the location of the château in the book of the same name by William Maxwell that I read recently.

It was a fun little ride and a touching sentimental one.

Caroline Vermalle, trans. by Anna Aitken, George’s Grand Tour, first published in France in 2009, and in Britain in 2015 by Gallic Books, 224 pages (I read the kindle version). Not in local libraries, but is available in paperback or kindle versions from Amazon.

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