I review many and several books each week and pride myself on being able to spot a literary disaster at ten paces. They often fit this profile: small or nonexistent publisher, unknown author, subjects I know nothing about (there are, strangely, many of those), lots of writing and few pictures. But In and Out of Africa …in search of Gérard Depardieu will be among this year’s top 10 Best Reads for me, and I don’t give that accolade lightly.
I know nothing of wine. I can recognise red, white and rose wine by their colour and that’s as far as my viticultural (yes, I looked it up) knowledge runs. How was I going to write a sensible review that wouldn’t upset the author, Francis Gimblett, nor make me look like one who had signed the pledge and had taste-buds removed for good measure?
This is, thank goodness, a book for anyone who enjoys a rollicking good read. No knowledge of the wine industry is necessary, although there is a Fact File of wines and producers at the end of the book which adds all the technical bits about slopes and grapes, etc. Francis has spent the last 25 years working in the wine industry, starting out at the tender age of 19 as the youngest head sommelier at the Grand Hotel in Brighton.
The outside cover suggested that this book was “laugh-out-loud” funny (well, it would, wouldn’t it) but it’s true. The inside cover gives the reason why I should not have been surprised. Our man set up the world’s first wine entertainment business, Taste of the Vine, in 1997. It’s a melange of wine and stand-up comedy and has been appreciated by more than 100,000 people to date. I hope to give you more information on that in the near future.
In and Out of Africa …in search of Gérard Depardieu starts with an encounter with the French star on the Graham Norton chat show, which led to the seed of an idea to pay a visit to M. Depardieu’s Moroccan vineyard, and perhaps take in a few other North African countries along the way. The trip doesn’t start well. The map was left on the table in Haslemere! They encounter dubious campsites, discover that France is closed on Mondays, meet marvellous hospitality, and experience the complexities of filming and eating by the light of a burning NHS malaria fact sheet!
This is a gem of a book and I intend to persuade Francis Gimblett to take more trips just so I can read the fruits of his labours on return. (China has always held a fascination for me.) It’s a wine book, a travel book and a marvellous record of observation of mankind with all its quirks. In and Out of Africa …in search of Gérard Depardieu deserves to be popular. It’s hilarious!
In and Out of Africa …in search of Gérard Depardieu
Author: Francis Gimblett
Published by: The Wine Adventurer, www.thewineadventurer.com
Travel book review by Chrissie Walker © 2018