A rural idyll: that’s what Catherine Parkstone is seeking when she sells her house in England and moves to a tiny hamlet in the Cévennes mountains. Divorced and with her children grown, she is free to make a new start, and set up in business as a seamstress. But this is a harsh and lonely place when you’re no longer just on holiday, and Catherine finds herself with unexpected battles to fight. French bureaucracy, the mountain weather, the reserve of her neighbours – and most unsettling of all, her own fascination with the intriguing Patrick Castagnol.
The Tapestry of Love is the story of how a woman falls in love with a place and its people: a portrait of landscape, a community and a fragile way of life.
I devoured this novel, more than 400 pages, in a single day. I was mesmerised.
In The Tapestry of Love Rosy Thornton’s evocative descriptions transport readers to the stunning French countryside.
Back on the road and facing the valley, the quality of the light arrested her; forgetting her hurry for a moment, she pulled over and stopped. The sky was a luminous mauve, a colour that would never have seemed credible if she had replicated it in a tapestry. It cast everything around her into sharp definition, giving the illusion that road and rocks and vegetation were illuminated from some hidden source, like ethereal stage lighting.She had a clear view between the trees, down to the valley of St Julien de Valvert, the ‘green valley’ – although in ths light it was etched in shades of grey and pink and silver. And there across from her, on a level with her eyeline and slightly to the east, was the crease of mountain which she supposed must be her own valley.
Thornton’s character development is diligent, yet subtle and unassuming, allowing one to get to know the many characters of the little mountain hamlet of La Grelaudierie at the same pace as our protagonist does. In that way, a real connection between reader and Catherine Parkstone, is developed. Catherine embodies qualities we’d all like to possess – honesty, strength, compassion, independence, daring – just in the right doses. The connection she develops with the Bouschet family is particulary touching. And of course, her interactions with the enigmatic Patrick Castagnol a source of tension and intrigue.
She had begun in French out of politeness. But to continue with the exercise was foolish; his easy, idiomatic English was so much better than her competent, unpolished French. “Have you lived here long?” she wanted to know. His surname, Castagnol, had impeccable cevenol credentials, yet somehow he had a Parisian feel about him.
There is a touch of Joanne Harris’ Chocolat about this novel – the parallel intended as high praise.
Reading The Tapestry of Love was a supremely relaxing experience, the prose so smooth and easy to take in and the story heartwarming. I felt like I had just come back from a holiday in the French countryside myself after reaching the final page. This is a perfect read for a lazy summer afternoon.
I will definitely be adding Rosy Thornton’s back catalogue to my wishlist – always exciting to discover another quality author in the women’s literature genre.
BOOK RATING: The Story 4 / 5 ; The Writing 5 / 5
BOOK DETAILS: The Tapestry of Love (The Book Depository)
Genre: Romance, Drama
Author Information: Check out Rosy Thornton’s website for information about where she grew about, her day job as a lecturer at Cambridge, and details of her three previous novels Crossed Wires, More Than Love Letters and Hearts and Minds.
* My receiving this title free for review purposes did not in anyway affect my ability to express my true and honest feelings about the novel.