Novel set in WW2 FRANCE – guest review by Isobel Blackthorn
10 Great Books set in PROVENCE
7th April 2020
Provence is the latest place for us to visit in our ‘Great books set in…’ series. 10 Great Books set in Provence (in no particular order)
“When the Good Lord begins to doubt the world, he remembers that he created Provence” Frederic Mistral
The Holiday by T M Logan
Seven days. Three families. One killer.
It was supposed to be the perfect holiday, dreamed up by Kate as the ideal way to turn 40: four best friends and their husbands and children in a luxurious villa under the blazing sunshine of Languedoc-Roussillon.
But there is trouble in paradise. Kate suspects that her husband is having an affair, and that the other woman is one of her best friends.
One of these women is willing to sacrifice years of friendship and destroy her family. But which one? As Kate closes in on the truth in the stifling Mediterranean heat, she realises too late that the stakes are far higher than she ever imagined.
Because someone in the villa is prepared to kill to keep their secret hidden.
The Lantern by Deborah Lawrenson
When Eve falls for the secretive, charming Dom, their whirlwind relationship leads them to purchase Les Genevriers, an abandoned house in a rural hamlet in the south of France. As the beautiful Provence summer turns to autumn, Eve finds it impossible to ignore the mysteries that haunt both her lover and the run-down old house, in particular the mysterious disappearance of his beautiful first wife, Rachel. Whilst Eve tries to untangle the secrets surrounding Rachel’s last recorded days, Les Genevriers itself seems to come alive. As strange events begin to occur with frightening regularity, Eve’s voice becomes intertwined with that of Benedicte Lincel, a girl who lived in the house decades before. As the tangled skeins of the house’s history begin to unravel, the tension grows between Dom and Eve. In a page-turning race, Eve must fight to discover the fates of both Benedicte and Rachel, before Les Genevriers’ dark history has a chance to repeat itself.
Cooking for Picasso by Camille Aubray
“A tasty blend of romance, mystery, and French cooking.”–Margaret Atwood, via Twitter
The French Riviera, spring 1936: It’s off-season in the lovely seaside village of Juan-les-Pins, where seventeen-year-old Ondine cooks with her mother in the kitchen of their family-owned Café Paradis. A mysterious new patron who’s slipped out of Paris and is traveling under a different name has made an unusual request–to have his lunch served to him at the nearby villa he’s secretly rented, where he wishes to remain incognito.
Pablo Picasso is at a momentous crossroads in his personal and professional life–and for him, art and women are always entwined. The spirited Ondine, chafing under her family’s authority and nursing a broken heart, is just beginning to discover her own talents and appetites. Her encounter with Picasso will continue to affect her life for many decades onward, as the great artist and the talented young chef each pursue their own passions and destiny.
New York, present day: Céline, a Hollywood makeup artist who’s come home for the holidays, learns from her mother, Julie, that Grandmother Ondine once cooked for Picasso. Prompted by her mother’s enigmatic stories and the hint of more family secrets yet to be uncovered, Céline carries out Julie’s wishes and embarks on a voyage to the very town where Ondine and Picasso first met. In the lush, heady atmosphere of the Côte d’Azur, and with the help of several eccentric fellow guests attending a rigorous cooking class at her hotel, Céline discovers truths about art, culture, cuisine, and love that enable her to embrace her own future.
Featuring an array of both fictional characters and the French Riviera’s most famous historical residents, set against the breathtaking scenery of the South of France, Cooking for Picasso is a touching, delectable, and wise story, illuminating the powers of trust, money, art, and creativity in the choices that men and women make as they seek a path toward love, success, and joie de vivre.
The Forgotten Summer by Carol Drinkwater
The annual grape harvest at the Cambon family’s magnificent vineyard is always a cause for celebration. But not this year. When an accident destroys the crop, leaving the estate facing ruin, Clarisse Cambon knows exactly who to blame – her daughter-in-law Jane.
It’s just the latest incident in a decades-long feud whose origin both women have concealed from Luc, who struggles to keep his wife and mother on speaking terms. But is Luc the saint he appears to be? When tragedy strikes, Jane is thrown into doubt. What secrets has her husband been keeping?
Forced to take charge of the ailing vineyard, Jane uncovers further proof that Luc may not be the man she fell in love with twenty years ago. And, worse still, she knows that her old enemy Clarisse is the only one who knows the truth . . .
The Little Paris Bookshop by Nina George
On a beautifully restored barge on the Seine, Jean Perdu runs a bookshop; or rather a ‘literary apothecary’, for this bookseller possesses a rare gift for sensing which books will soothe the troubled souls of his customers.
The only person he is unable to cure, it seems, is himself. He has nursed a broken heart ever since the night, twenty-one years ago, when the love of his life fled Paris, leaving behind a handwritten letter that he has never dared read. His memories and his love have been gathering dust – until now. The arrival of an enigmatic new neighbour in his eccentric apartment building on Rue Montagnard inspires Jean to unlock his heart, unmoor the floating bookshop and set off for Provence, in search of the past and his beloved.
A Year in Provence by Peter Mayle
Peter Mayle and his wife did what most of us only imagine doing when they made their long-cherished dream of a life abroad a reality: throwing caution to the wind, they bought a glorious two hundred year-old farmhouse in the Lubéron Valley and began a new life. In a year that begins with a marathon lunch and continues with a host of gastronomic delights, they also survive the unexpected and often hilarious curiosities of rural life. From mastering the local accent and enduring invasion by bumbling builders, to discovering the finer points of boules and goat-racing, all the earthy pleasures of Provençal life are conjured up in this enchanting portrait.
Death in Provence by Serena Kent
When Penelope Kite swaps her humdrum life in Surrey for a picturesque farmhouse in the south of France, she imagines a simple life of long lunches and chilled rosé . . . What she doesn’t imagine is the dead body floating in her swimming pool.
Convinced that the victim suffered more than a drunken accident, Penelope plunges headlong into local intrigue and long-simmering resentments to uncover the truth.
But with a meddling estate agent, an unfriendly Chief of Police, a suspiciously charming Mayor, and the endless temptation of that second pain au chocolat, life in the delightful village of St Merlot is certainly never simple.
Dead Line by Chris Ewan
And just as your plan is developing, so you’re evolving, too. You’re changing in ways you never would have thought possible before. But that’s acceptable to you. You’re prepared to do whatever it takes . . . Why? Because you’re the specialist. And that’s how you’re going to succeed.
What do you do if your fiancée goes missing, presumed taken?
If you’re Daniel Trent, a highly trained specialist in hostage negotiation, the answer is simple: you find out who took her and you make them talk.
But matters are complicated when Daniel’s chief suspect is kidnapped. How does he get him back quickly – and alive?
Set in Marseilles, Dead Line is a fast-paced thriller that pitches the reader into Daniel’s world, as he tries desperately to secure the release of Jérôme Moreau from a ruthless gang in order to interrogate him on the whereabouts of his fiancée, Aimée. When things don’t go according to plan, Daniel must use all his skills and instincts to find the answers he’s looking for.
But will he meet the deadline?
The Heatwave by Kate Riordan
Elodie was beautiful. Elodie was smart. Elodie was manipulative. Elodie is dead.
When Sylvie receives a letter calling her back to her crumbling family home in Provence, she knows she has to go. In the middle of a sweltering summer marked by unusual fires across the countryside, she returns to La Reverie with her youngest daughter Emma in tow.
In every corner of the house, Sylvie can’t escape the spectre of Elodie, her first child. Elodie with the golden hair. Elodie, who knew exactly how to get what she wanted. Elodie, whose death the villagers still whisper about.
As the fires creep even closer towards the villa, it’s clear to Sylvie that something isn’t right at La Reverie. Because there’s something that Sylvie hasn’t admitted about what happened to Elodie ten summers ago . . .
Muse by Mary Novik
Richly engaging historical adventure in the vein of The Winter Palace and The Malice of Fortune.
Muse is the story of the charismatic woman who was the inspiration behind Petrarch’s sublime love poetry. Solange Le Blanc begins life in the tempestuous streets of 14th century Avignon, a city of men dominated by the Pope and his palace. When her mother, a harlot, dies in childbirth, Solange is raised by Benedictines who believe she has the gift of clairvoyance. Trained as a scribe, but troubled by disturbing visions and tempted by a more carnal life, she escapes to Avignon, where she becomes entangled in a love triangle with the poet Petrarch, becoming not only his muse but also his lover.
Later, when her gift for prophecy catches the Pope’s ear, Solange becomes Pope Clement VI’s mistress and confidante in the most celebrated court in Europe. When the plague kills a third of Avignon’s population, Solange is accused of sorcery and is forced once again to reinvent herself and fight against a final, mortal conspiracy.
Muse is a sweeping historical epic that magically evokes the Renaissance, capturing a time and place caught between the shadows of the past and the promise of a new cultural awakening.
Tina for the TripFiction Team
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