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The Traveller

The Tapestry of Love

When Rosy Thornton e.mailed me to ask if I would like a copy of her latest book, The Tapestry of Love, to review, I had to think hard about it. I knew it was set in France and to tell the truth I avoid books set there like the plague. The reason? Well, a much loved sister-in-law and her husband moved there in the mid-nineties. It was a financial and healthwise disaster from start to finish, culminating in the husband dying of pancreatic cancer and my sister-in-law of a brain tumour two years later. This kind of thing is not conducive to good memories of a country. So I thought long and hard, decided that my sister-in-law would have said I was being a wimp and said 'yes please'.

The book begins with Catherine Parkstone arriving in France to start a new life. She's leaving behind two adult children in their twenties, a sister who's a lawyer and a mother with Alzheimers who lives in a home. Catherine is divorced, her husband having left her for a younger woman, although the couple are on reasonably good terms. Obviously this is a brand new start for Catherine whose plan is to settle into a newly bought house in a small (very) village in the Cévennes, a mountainous region of southern France. In order to make ends meet she plans to be a needlewoman, taking on soft furnishing jobs and taking commissions for her tapestries.

And that's it really. I don't want to give too many spoilers away but basically the story revolves around how she settles in and gets to know her neighbours. I loved this aspect of the book. I haven't been to the Cévennes, my sister-in-law lived first of all on the edge of the Dorgogne and then moved further north close to the Vendée. Her first house was in the middle of nowhere, but she did have farming neighbours just like the couple in this book. Everything was so familiar, their way of life, the markets, the giving of little gifts. It was startlingly accurate. When she moved to a small village she woke one morning to find another local farmer had been around and cut her grass with his machine without being asked, just as Catherine's neighbour did for her.

I absolutely adored the descriptions of the local area, the mountains, woods and valleys in particular. The author takes the time to give the reader a real feel for the area and by the sound of it it's absolutely stunning. I pinched this photo from the national park website:

Wow. It's every bit as beautiful as the book implies although I think the heat in the summer would give me personally real problems.

Other things I enoyed - how the author focusses on Catherine's needlework. I don't do much these days but I used to and it was wonderful to hear details of her work and how she went about each project, the threads and materials she used and the use to which each project was put. I found myself wanting photos!

So, all that said, what was I not too keen on? Answer, the romantic stuff.

A bit spoilery...
She gets involved with Patrick, a neighbour who is clearly interested in her too. And then he does something which I found myself very saddened by as by this time I really liked him. I couldn't fogive him for it, even at the end when he said why. In fact... his reasons only made it worse for me and if this were real life I would be worried for her. So did this ruin the book for me? No, certainly not. I like a book that makes me think and this made me ponder on the kind of behaviour some women accept from men and how, unless women stop doing this, the behaviour of - I should say - a *minority* of men, will never get any better. But that's just me... I haven't seen where anyone else was bothered by this and actually it makes the book a lot less predictable that it might otherwise have been. Plus, having strong feelings about certain aspects of a story is *never* a bad thing; in point of fact, it's a good author who can provoke reactions like this in my experience.

Anyway, my thanks to Rosy for allowing me to read her book for free. It's a terrific read... atmospheric with one of the best senses of place I've ever come across. Take it from me, this is the *real* France here, warts and all! I think I may even be over my aversion to books set in that country, though sadly I still have no wish to go back and visit.

I'll be quite happy to pass this one on to anyone else who would like to read and review it. Either e.mail me or leave a comment - I'll post anywhere in the world.


I can quite understand why you had to think long and hard about whether to review it. France does have some awful memories for you *Hugs*

It does and quite a few things reminded me of J's time over there so I was right to think about it before deciding.

P's back from town (had to rush out and get a thingy for the new pc) and I was able to say that my Kindle is one the way. yaay!!!

Yay! I hope he and the PC and thingy will be happy together *g* Was he pleased by your news?
Tickled pink.

P and his new pc are having issues at the moment. He can't get online as his new pc won't recognise the wireless gubbings. Frustrating is not in it. He's been on mine all afternoon trying to download a new driver. *sigh* Why is nothing ever simple?

I meant to add that my Kindle arrived at eight o'clock this morning. Can you believe that? I only ordered it yesterday afternoon...

Edited at 2011-03-11 12:26 am (UTC)

Argh! I really hope he can sort it out *Good vibes* Because wouldn't be 'interesting' then, would it? *Wry grin*

Wow! Already? That's excellent. Is it up and running? I haven't been able to contact my friend yet, but should be able to get her today. Enjoy!

Edit Duh! Typical, as soon as I'd sent the message to my friend asking her, I remembered she'd in effect 'answered' it on my LJ when I posted about getting one to one of the people commenting. She said:

if you have the 3G model make sure you're using the Kindle's free email address or else you'll be charged every time you send it an email.

Edited at 2011-03-11 12:41 pm (UTC)
Yes, all sorted now but it's taken him 3 days to do it. He ended up having to buy a new wireless dingle- dangly thingy. It's been rather frustrating for him.

Yes, my Kindle is up and running but I've had two really busy days and haven't had a proper chance to play. I got one of the free books onto it, no problem, and was charged 20p. Then I got an e.mail from Amazon about how to avoid it, plus you mentioned it and I think I can see what to do now - use the free e.mail address etc. There seem to be quite a few free book sites which I need to investigate fully. Have you looked at any yet?
I'm glad it's sorted out. But sorry to hear it took so long. Ah, one of those *Nods* It must have been.

Yay. Glad to hear it's up and running. I'm glad Amazon told you how to avoid having to pay, that's good. Oh, there are. I'll send you an email with the ones plutos_revenge sent to me. I confess, I haven't yet, it's all rather over-whelming with so much choice.
I'm interested in reading the book, if no one closer (less expensive postage) wants to!

Tis yours, m'dear. Let me have your address, either by private message or at nanquidno2001atyahoodotcom and I'll get it in the post to you next week.
Thank you! I admit to being curious about the deal-breaking behavior. The older I get (and as a divorced woman with married children), the more I wonder about how you see those signs in the early stages, and what makes some things an acceptable risk for some women people, and the results.

Sending my address.
Sounds like a good one. I can understand your concerns about bad memories, they can spoil a book, a film, a TV show.

Also the "thing" the romantic interest does in the story must have been something seriously off-putting. I recall being shocked by a Rumer Godden book (definitely not one of her best) in which the "hero" hit the heroine because she wasn't showing the right attitude of respect for him and his marriage proposal. So she adjusted her attitude to his requirements and they got married. Wow. Did that ever make me uncomfortable.
I would happily tell you what he did except I'm passing the book on to the previous commenter and I don't want to spoil it for her. It was not violence though... and hell's bells I'm not surprised that made you uncomfortable!
No probs. I'm just glad it wasn't physical violence.

Still, there are things people do to beat up one another emotionally that are also very painful. *SIGH*