This is the story of Catherine Parkstone, a 48 year old woman, who has moved to the French mountains in the search for a new life, and a new business in tapestry and upholstery. The idyllic lifestyle she had hoped for is a complete change from her life in England – her house is one of only four in a tiny hamlet, which seems cut off from civilisation, and she has to cope with French bureacracy which threatens to stop her business before it’s even begun. And then there’s her enigmatic neighbour, Patrick Castagnol…
This is the second novel I have read by Rosy Thornton, and I have now resolved to buy the two which I have not yet read. I love the way that the author creates very believable characters, who I really felt that I got to know. Rather than creating a stereotypical heroine, Catherine is a very decent if flawed human being – i.e., very true to life. I enjoyed the relationships she had with her two very different children; nature lover Tom, who is quiet and somewhat reticent; and the vivacious, gregarious Lexie. Catherine’s sister Bryony was also a great character, if not quite as sympathetic as Catherine herself.
Patrick Castagnol was necessarily slightly harder to work out. It was easy to understand Catherine’s simultaneous attraction and frustration with him.
I particularly liked the description of the French mountains and the lifestyle of the residents, and felt that I could really imagine what it was like to stay there (and actually, this book made such a lifestyle seem like a very attractive prospect)! My favourites were her elderly neighbours, Monsieur and Madame Bouschet – the kind of neighbours one can only hope to have!
Essentially this is a story of ordinary people – but that does not mean that it is in any way boring. I enjoyed reading about the main character trying to navigate her new landscape and new way of life. The interplay between the various characters was entirely believable, and the writing flowed easily. I genuinely found this book hard to put down.
I would definitely recommend this book (as well as Crossed Wires, the previous novel I read by Rosy Thornton).