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
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.
“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)