Now that the summer is upon us what better excuse do we need than to escape to the hot summers of the 1970s and a gentler pace of life in both Yorkshire and the South of France? Published just one year after her hit novel Chocolat this split-time novel will transport you to the magic of the countryside and the simple pleasure a bottle of wine.

Londoner Jay is a writer who published his greatest work – ‘Jackapple Joe’ – 10 years ago, but has since struggled to replicate this success. Travelling between the present and the summers of Jay’s childhood we learn of the unlikely friendship he struck up with an old man called Jackapple Joe. From him Jay learns about the magic of nature and the secrets of home-made wine. In the present Jay returns to Yorkshire hoping to find some sense of meaning and inspiration. Instead he finds only some old bottles of Joe’s special brew.

The wine has more of an effect on him than he bargained for and under the ruse of working on his next novel Jay buys a house in the French village of Lansquenet-sous-Tannes (the setting for Chocolat). In reality, he is escaping his city life and his girlfriend, and his sense of failure.

As the wine works it magic Joe finds his inspiration. But is it the wine, or is it the ghost of an old friend? Magic can be found in many unlikely places: the magic of nature; the magic of friendship; and the magic of belief in ourselves.

By Willow Coby