So I just read A Year at the Chateau by Dick Strawbridge, Angel Strawbridge and…
I love this book so much. I already loved the family and Escape to the Chateau is my favourite TV show so when I saw they were bringing a book out I was so bloody excited! I ended up preordering the signed addition and that was a very good idea! But first, let’s talk about what it’s about.
Throwing caution to the wind, Dick and Angel swapped their two-bedroom flat in East London for an abandoned and derelict castle in the heart of the Loire valley and embarked on the adventure of a lifetime with their two young children Arthur and Dorothy. Sharing their full journey for the first time, A Year at the Château follows Dick and Angel from when they first moved to France in the depths of winter and found bedrooms infested with flies, turrets inhabited by bats, the wind rattling through cracked windows, and just one working toilet, which flushed into the moat, through to the monumental efforts that went into readying the château for their unforgettable wedding and their incredibly special first Christmas. Along the way we’ll read glorious descriptions of rural life in France, with charming characters, delicious food and wonderful seasonal produce, together with the extraordinary list of renovations and restorations Dick and Angel completed, many of which were never shown on TV.
I want to say that you don’t have to see the TV show to read this book. The book was written in such a way that it’s the first year of their time at the Chateau, that really you’re just following their time. Everything is explained in such a way that the book can be completely independent. Though after reading the book I’m sure you’ll definitely want to watch the TV show.
First of all I want to talk about the book itself. I love books with photos and this one is full of them, all of them interesting and telling their own story as well as complimenting the stories being told in the book. As well as this it’s full of Angel’s own illustrations at the beginning of each chapter. I love Angel’s drawings to start with so seeing them throughout the book was a huge treat. Because it was a hardback it had a dust cover and I don’t like dust covers but I can deal with it, I can just take the dust cover off, but I do kind of wish there was something on the cover underneath in the same gold foiling that’s on the spine under the dust cover. But that’s such a small thing it’s almost insignificant.
The book was beautifully written too. Dick and Angel take turns writing the book and it works so well, the conversations they have between themselves are often very cute and very funny. Though really the cuteness and funniness runs throughout the book, especially when Angel asks Dick to do something he really doesn’t have time to do. They are such a cute couple! And when they went into detail about their wedding, oh my god. I cried so much. I do love weddings!
One thing I struggled with was the more technical stuff but then that was more my fault then their fault. When Dick talked about heating or electricity I just felt lost and often wanted to rush through it even though he did do a wonderful job at explaining things. Unlike on the TV show he can’t draw a diagram and explain it to you slowly.
All in all I recommend everyone reads this book, whether you’re a fan of the tv show or not. It’s such a love story to life and an inspiration for anyone who’s been teetering on the edge of a decision like this.
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