Sunday, August 7, 2011

Vivid Colors and Fragrances of Provence, A Mystery, and A Love Story

Eve falls in love with Dom, a man with a mysterious past, and with their crumbling farmhouse in Provence. At first everything is perfection, but as cracks appear in the walls, so too they appear in the relationship. Told as counterpoint to Eve's story is the story of Bénédicte, the last owner of the house. The intermingling of the two stories told against the lush backdrop of Provence weaves the mystery and the love story.

The best thing about the novel is the marvelous descriptions of Provence. The author is obviously in love with her setting. The is both a benefit and curse. While it's delightful to become absorbed in the atmosphere of the hill town where the novel takes place, it detracts from the story being told. The dilemmas of the central characters are interesting, but because of the amount of picturesque writing about the setting, the story drags.

The juxtaposition of the two story lines interleaved every other chapter become wearing after awhile. The chapters are generally short so the reader is often left wondering what will happen with one character while the story moves to the other main character. Leaving the reader unsatisfied at the end of a chapter can draw the reader through the story, but in this instance it leaves the impression of choppiness and induces the reader to skip chapters.

I recommend this book if you love Provence and scenic writing, but if you're more interested in plot, you're apt to be disappointed.