Swallows and Robins by Susie Kelly: Memoirs of a French holiday rental!

If any of you own a holiday home that you rent out to guests, you might laugh knowingly at some of the real life ups and downs recounted by Susie Kelly in Swallows and Robins.

The vision

It all sounded idyllic, exciting.

Putting some inheritance money to good use by escaping the UK to set up a holiday rental abroad in a remote part of rural France surrounded by trees, nature and sunflower fields. Freedom.

Susie does it all by herself while her husband is still back in the UK working.

The reality

Dodgy builders, kind furniture suppliers, eccentric guests, and seemingly spoilt –  having had a ‘servant’ in her younger years whilst living in Kenya, and known to possess a lack of domestic skills, with a hatred for cleaning, to the point of tears – what could go wrong!

Susie: “There is some deep psychological hang up which causes me immense stress when faced with a vacuum cleaner, duster and cleaning products. My heart beat increases, my head starts to spin. I feel panicky and totally incompetent.”

Now I’m not being funny, but that sounds a tad extreme. There are far more ‘immense-stress’ worthy things in life, surely! Unless cleaning is linked to some deep rooted traumatic childhood experience she had – perhaps! Anyway….

She even dedicates the book to “everyone who hates housework”.

Throughout the years she welcomes a variety of holiday-makers, each with their own quirks and oddities. Some were a nightmare, and others became life-long friends.

Over a four year span, Susie grows particularly fond of some of her guests, and very happy to see the back of others.

Never a dull moment.

I did wonder whether her husband ever came out to visit  – didn’t sound like he was really involved in any of it. 🤔


If you fancy an armchair trip to rural France for a fly on the wall account of making it as a holiday let landlord/lady and host – Swallows and Robins might be worth a read. You’ll smile and smirk throughout.

This one’s staying firmly on the shelf.


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