Disclosure of material connection- I received a copy of the book from the publisher via Netgalley in exchange for my honest thoughts. I was not required to write a positive review and all opinions stated are 100% my own.
A lush, evocative, debut novel set in Provence about the people who grow up and live and remain in two tiny neighboring villages—from the Nazi occupation to the present day—in particular, one man and one woman who have yet to find love.
In the south of France farm life unfolds with the rhythm of the seasons. But the lives of these villagers in Amour Provence reflect the reality that themidi is a place of extremes, the summers of unbearable heat and the winters that are often rude and harsh. Like the climate, the characters find themselves swept away by storms of unannounced and devastating intensity. A vintner’s adolescent son has a passionate romance with his schoolmate’s mother and they suffer different and enduring consequences. A young Arab woman forced into an arranged marriage, learns that life in the land of Liberté and Egalité can be just as confining as in her own country. A French woman who has lived abroad for many years returns home and discovers that certain members of her family are not pleased to have her back. An unexpected encounter with his past brings new sparks of life to a man who believed he had lost everything, including the only woman he ever loved.
In these two small adjacent villages in the South of France, characters lead lives that overlap and intertwine. Many are close neighbors who have known each other from childhood, linked by ancestors who clung for centuries to their patrimony, the land, which had always been poor, but is now a source of wealth drawn from wine, olives, and tourists. They know a great deal about each other’s hidden passions and weaknesses. Age-old resentments and closely guarded secrets retain their hold but are never to be discussed. Amour Provence is a portrait of lives deeply lived, shadowed by the past, against the backdrop of a region and a nation gripped by change.
If anything French is involved, it is pretty much a given that I will be attracted to it. Lately I have been particularly drawn to Provence, so even the title of this novel alone drew me in. This book was part romantic (the descriptions of the beautiful vineyards and the thought of living in a small village in France) and many parts drama and tragedy. There were times were it was difficult to follow along because there is no clear indication of era changes or points of view changing until you read the new chapter and realize that each new chapter is a different time or person narrating. Once I got the flow of the way the book was written, I couldn't put it down. I found Didier, Bertie, and Euphemie particularly interesting and definitely got through the parts of the book about them much faster than the rest. I recommend this book to anyone who enjoys a challenging, yet poignant book to read.
Amour Provence will be available for purchase July 5, 2016. You can pre-order your copy on Amazon.com.