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Lundy’s (Happy Utopia Day, Joe McCarthy, 2013) amusing tale of two hapless Illinoisans trying to raise quick cash in French wine country.

Taunted by his cuckolding ex-wife and her girlfriends while he performs the going-nowhere job grudgingly provided by his hateful ex-stepbrother, Jason Barnes is going over the edge. With 30 days to repay $60,000 in damages to his ex-stepbrother or face imprisonment, Jason, 32, thinks his problem is solved with his wealthy aunt Clara’s death. Unfortunately, she bequeaths her fortune to charity, leaving him only a vineyard in France, which he reasons he can sell. Two problems: no travel funds and no passport, his having been confiscated by his attorney. Jason’s lifelong friend, Neil “Stumpy” Hammond, agrees to advance cash in exchange for a share in the vineyard profits, and the two blunder into France, Jason carrying someone else’s passport. The friends are unprepared for what they find in Bordeaux—not just impediments to a quick sale, but romance and growing affection for the nuns who manage the vineyard. Realizing he cannot sell the vineyard, Jason focuses his attention on helping produce a profitable harvest, but when his share falls short, he’s forced to find another way to raise the remaining money he needs. His desperation causes him to risk everything he has won in France. Jason and Stumpy are two likable characters, ne’er-do-wells from Kankakee who, with decades of experience being the underdogs, are unfazed by the catastrophes they confront. Their genuine, mutual caring is heartwarming, although their ability to attract two beautiful, entrancing Frenchwomen is a bit of a stretch. What the friends lack in intelligence and cunning they make up for in chutzpah. Sisters Lucia and Claudette (not just nuns, but actual sisters) defy the nun stereotype, revealing family secrets that change Jason’s life forever.

A memorable, unexpectedly heartwarming romp.

Pub Date: May 5th, 2015
ISBN: 978-1937110758
Page count: 282pp
Program: Kirkus Indie
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15th, 2015


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