Cover of Susan's Kind HeartSusan's Kind Heart

Jane Shaw
May 2006, 153pp, ISBN 978 09552973 1 1
£12.99 (includes p&p in the UK)

Or £6.90 (inc VAT)/ $9.99 US plus sales tax as an ebook for the Kindle - click here to buy directly via Amazon

Susan’s Kind Heart brings Susan and her cousins Midge and Charlotte Carmichael to France, in the optimistic hope that this will improve their French (ah, remember the days when learning French was an essential part of a girl’s curriculum?). Being Susan, she is no sooner arrived than she begins interfering in everyone’s lives.

Staying at the château are an assortment of paying guests, including English and German schoolboys Oliver and Willie, who become caught up in all Susan’s little schemes. Oliver, destined for a glittering career in the Foreign Office, finds himself playing his guitar in a small café because Susan feels sorry for the owner’s failure to attract customers. Willie, son of the German Kommandent who occupied the château during the Second World War, is more preoccupied with discovering and restoring to its rightful owners the family silver which his father knows was hidden nearby.  Their charming French hostess, Danielle, is in love with her cousin, but fears it is only the château which appeals to him. Susan is fully occupied with bestowing happy endings on everyone – except, of course, for the suave smuggler who gets his comeuppance in the final exciting pages.

The village of Kerdic on the north coast of Brittany will be known already to Jane Shaw fans, as it features under various names in her first book, Breton Holiday, as well as Twopence Coloured and The Moochers Abroad. Here, in its final appearance in her work, it remains as charming as ever. Jane Shaw herself, along with a cousin, spent a summer in the real chateau in Binic before the Second World War, and the holiday activities of Susan and her cousins mirror her experiences three decades before. Apart from the breath-taking plot, the book perfectly conveys all the pleasures of an endless sunny summer, with bathes, walks and just sitting around talking and singing.

To learn more about Jane Shaw's life and the archive of her personal papers, now deposited in the National Library of Scotland, click here. To read the opening chapters of The Man at the Villa Carlotta, an unfinished manuscript by Jane Shaw, click here. To view maps of the sites where Jane Shaw's books are set, drawn by Elsepth Insch, click here.

Have you read Susan and Friends: The Jane Shaw Companion?

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