Author: Rosy Thornton
Genre: Contemporary Fiction
Release Date: July 8, 2010
Publisher: Headline Review
Source: Copy provided by the author for review
Unfortunately, I've never had the pleasure of traveling to France. Of course the city girl in me would love to see Paris, but I think I'd immensely enjoy renting a car and traveling throughout the French countryside, stopping in little hamlets, and really just revelling in nature's beauty. It may be a while until I'm able to go on such a trip, so at least I have novels like The Tapestry of Love in which to immerse myself.
After raising two children and going through a divorce years ago, Catherine Parkstone sets off to make a new start away from her life in England. With dreams of starting her own business as a seamstress and needlewoman filling her thoughts, she purchases Les Fenils, a small farm in the southeast of France. Catherine must quickly learn to adapt to her new surroundings - both the land and her neighbors. The Tapestry of Love is a very character-driven novel, and ultimately, a portrait of an outsider trying to find her place within such a tight-knit community, while coming to terms with the life she left behind.
Rosy Thornton does an excellent job creating a strong sense of place within the Cévennes mountains. She lavishly paints the scenery with her words, and manages to capture the wild beauty of a rural pastoral village and its people. I often felt as if I were sitting on the terrace of Les Fenils enjoying the awesome quietude.
It was preternaturally silent, and the silence lent depth to the conviction of emptiness. She knew there was life there before her, invisible among the trees and on the far distant slopes: houses and farms, animals being fed and fires stoked, women peeling vegetables for supper, yet it seemed almost impossible that it should be so, as unreal as staring at the night sky and imagining life in other galaxies.As someone who has very rarely experienced the absolute solitude found in such rural settings, I found these lines embodied my feelings of disbelief that such a place can truly exist, even though I know it does. I think everyone wishes they could escape to a place without the constant interruptions from technology, although most could not give up such access permanently like Catherine did. I found her initial difficulty adjusting to a place that had spotty electricity and no telephone or Internet access very realistic.
Overall, the characters are what helped the story succeed. Most were complex with a depth to them that was slowly revealed over the course of the novel, instead of being quickly described with long bouts of expository writing. Catherine is one of the stronger, well-rounded female protagonists I've read recently. She's not the typical damsel in distress, and is very multifaceted. Along with being extremely brave for completely uprooting herself, she is very honest, caring, and hardworking. She quickly rises to the challenge of establishing herself in the small community without being forceful or obnoxious.
Everyone should plant things and watch them grow. It is an impulse as old as man. To plough our furrow, to till our patch of earth, however small it may be - to form a connection with the place that is ours.
This isn't a page turner, and not a book to be rushed, but should be savored and really appreciated. The Tapestry of Love is very much a tale of everyday life, the hardships and excitements of fellow man. I appreciated the fact that this book was not heavy on the drama. There was a romance element that unfolded, but it by no means took center stage. This heartwarming tale also allowed me to glean bits of information about unknown areas, such as creating tapestries and keeping bees, which I really enjoyed. While it did take me a few chapters to become used to the British vernacular, once I did I was quickly immersed in the story and transported to a wonderful rural idyll.
I want to sincerely thank the author for sending me this book to review, as I was pleasantly surprised at how much I enjoyed reading it. I had never heard of Rosy Thornton before reading The Tapestry of Love, but now I look forward to researching her other works.