Best­selling nov­el­ist ADELE PARKS wel­comes us to her idyl­lic French château full of joie de vivre

WEL­COMES US INTO HER IDYL­LIC FRENCH CHÂTEAU AND TELLS US WHY SHE IS FULL OF JOIE DE VIVRE

Hello! Middle East - - THIS WEEK -

Adele Parks is ex­pect­ing a coachload of fam­ily guests at her im­pres­sive home in south-western France, but there are still acres of room to ac­com­mo­date the hello! team when we ar­rive for our ex­clu­sive pho­to­shoot.

The hall­way alone is the size of an Olympic swim­ming pool, the ceil­ings are dizzy­ingly high and it takes 20 min­utes to close all the shut­ters on the win­dows. With its wood-pan­elled walls, hand-printed wall­pa­per and split stone stair­case that cries out for a dra­matic en­trance, Château Jac is grand yet wel­com­ing.

“It’s got a re­ally warm feel to it,” says the best­selling author. “It’s large, but not over­whelm­ing, and cheer­ful.

WRITER’S RE­TREAT

“I don’t want peo­ple to think: ‘Am I sit­ting on an an­tique?’” she says as she leads us on a guided tour of the seven bed­rooms, four bath­rooms, din­ing room, draw­ing room, two snugs and kitchen. We don’t even get as far as the third floor, which is still to be ren­o­vated.

Set in 28 acres of coun­try­side out­side Toulouse, this is where Adele, who is cel­e­brat­ing the pub­li­ca­tion of I In­vited Her In, her 18th novel in as many years, comes to re­lax and spend time with her hus­band Jim, 46, a web­site de­signer, and their son Con­rad, 17, when she’s not writ­ing at their min­i­mal­ist, mod­ern home in Guild­ford, Sur­rey.

They found the house, which dates back to 1850, five years ago, af­ter read­ing an ar­ti­cle about how much prop­erty you can get for your money across the globe – “Ei­ther a shoe­box in Lon­don or a gor­geous Ge­or­gian château in France,” Adele says.

They bought it in 2014 and then spent the next two years mak­ing it hab­it­able – rewiring, re­plumb­ing and re­dec­o­rat­ing.

“There were still cham­ber pots un­der the bed,” says Adele, who scoured the lo­cal bro­cantes (flea mar­kets) and an­tiques fairs for in­ter­est­ing finds.

“That was part of the fun. I think if I wasn’t a writer, I’d be an in­te­rior de­signer.”

Jim pro­ject-man­aged and did most of the phys­i­cal work – “But that’s be­cause I kept invit­ing peo­ple over and he’d say: ‘We haven’t got a bed­room for them’.”

They now rent the house out for hol­i­day lets, but Adele plans to run art work­shops and writ­ers’ re­treats at the château and “recre­ate that Parisian Left Bank cre­ative feel”.

‘I don’t live an or­di­nary life any more be­cause be­com­ing a writer was my dream and I’m liv­ing my dream’

FIND­ING MR RIGHT

Warm and chatty, the 49-year-old nov­el­ist is as friendly and en­ter­tain­ing as her books, which range from ro­man­tic come­dies to do­mes­tic noir.

Her most re­cent work in­volves a toxic friend­ship be­tween two women. It also fea­tures a kind hus­band and a teenage son – Jim ap­pears in her books “quite of­ten, bless him”, she winks.

The main character spends time as a sin­gle mum, as the author her­self did. Adele split from Con­rad’s fa­ther, her first hus­band, when the lit­tle boy was ten months old. She met Jim eight months later, at a salsa bar.

“I was look­ing good as I’d been on the divorce diet – you know, that one when you’re su­per skinny,” she laughs, as we sit by the out­door pool.

‘Jim did most of the phys­i­cal work be­cause I kept invit­ing peo­ple over and he’d say: “We haven’t got a bed­room for them”’

“I’d bought a new out­fit and got my hair blow-dried and re­ally made an ef­fort as I was feel­ing very vul­ner­a­ble. When I went down­stairs to where ev­ery­one was danc­ing, our eyes lit­er­ally met across a crowded room. He asked me to dance – old school – and we never looked back.

“From that day, I knew and he knew, although ev­ery­one kept say­ing to me: ‘This is your re­bound re­la­tion­ship.’ He was – and still is – in­cred­i­bly hand­some and cool. He had a mo­tor­bike and snow­boarded.”

Around three months af­ter they met, Adele in­tro­duced him to her son. “He was bril­liant with Con­rad from the get-go,” she says.

“Af­ter about six months I woke Jim up in the mid­dle of the night and said: ‘If a plane was go­ing down, who would you save: me or Con­rad?’ And he said: ‘Con­rad,’

Adele and her fam­ily – hus­band Jim and their son Con­rad – wel­come HELLO! to their château in south-western France, not far from Toulouse

The im­pres­sive en­trance hall fea­tures wood-pan­elled walls and orig­i­nal geo­met­ric floor tiles

The fam­ily re­lax in the draw­ing room – 430sq ft of space (be­low) that is per­fect for so­cial­is­ing. Adele wanted a hol­i­day home where they could host guests. “It doesn’t work at all with the three of us rat­tling around, but it ab­so­lutely works as: ‘We’re here for the sum­mer – come across,’” she says. A comfy chair awaits read­ers in the study (above right)

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