Book Review: The Second Worst Restuarant in France by Alexander McCall Smith

I entered a giveaway for ARCs offered by Penguin Random House Canada and was excited to receive The Second Worst Restaurant in France by Alexander McCall Smith. The reason for my excitement? I love any books set in France.

Genre: Contemporary Fiction


In a delightful sequel to the best-selling comedic novel My Italian Bulldozer , we are in a French village where the local restaurant’s haute cuisine leaves a lot to be desired–and two books into an astounding ninth series from one of our most beloved authors. 

Renowned cookbook writer Paul Stuart, renewed and refreshed from his time in Tuscany, has returned to Scotland to work on his new book, The Philosophy of Food in Six Easy Chapters. Writing, though, is complicated by Paul’s changed domestic circumstances. His editor and new girlfriend, Gloria, has moved in with him despite not being specifically invited, and she’s brought her two rather demanding Siamese cats. When Paul’s cousin, Chloe, suggests Paul visit her in the French countryside, Paul jumps at the chance. However, once he arrives, he finds his fortunes tangled up with the infamous local restaurant that gives the book its title. In this story about a man who prides himself on his taste finding delight in the most unexpected places, we have Alexander McCall Smith at his most witty and charming.

My thoughts:

I have not read any previous novels by McCall Smith, and had not read the first book in this series either. My enjoyment of the novel, however, was not diminished by my lack of knowledge of the first. The Second Worst Restaurant in France can be enjoyed as a stand-alone novel.

The main character in the novel, Paul Stuart, is a food writer so many references in the novel are food related – perfect for those readers who are foodies as well. References are made in the novel on the importance of food in our lives and how food is used to bring people together. Food has definitely brought people together in this novel – and in unexpected ways. McCall Smith’s characters are delightful and one cannot help but smile at their antics and observations.

Humour is woven through the novel. It is often a subtle humour, though, and one that suits the serious nature of the main character. Paul is having some issues with his girlfriend, Gloria, but his relationship with her is not the thrust of the novel. The main thread through the novel appears to be food – and the need for Paul to change his focus and find answers in unexpected places.

I enjoyed reading this novel and its brief snapshot into life in the French countryside. I savoured the descriptions and chuckled a few times during my reading. This novel meanders slowly through the tale, and is one that is meant to be savoured and not inhaled in one sitting. I recommend this delightful story for those readers who are charmed by stories featuring ordinary people.

I give this novel ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ 4 stars

© Colline Kook-Chun, 2019

(This novel was the 64th in my book pledge for 2019)

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