Just before the start of WWII, Andre moves with his bride Lisette from Paris to Roussillon in the south of France. Andre's grandfather, Pascal, is ill, possibly dying, and Andre wants to care for him. Lisette understands, and she loves Andre, but she fears that her dream of working in a Paris art gallery is gone forever.
In Roussillon, Lisette gets a surprise. Pascal has collected impressionist paintings from Pissaro and Cezanne. He tells her the history of the pictures and stories of the artists. After Pascal dies, France is drawn into WWII. Paintings, particularly those of the impressionists, are being destroyed so Andre hides the paintings before enlisting and going to the front.
This book is both a love story and a look at art history before and during WWII. The stories about the painters are fascinating as is the historical background on how artists were treated. Marc Chagal and his wife Bella are characters in the story and present a picture of the plight of Jewish artists.
I found the book fascinating. The art history and the background of WWII makes the story of another time come alive. However, the novel moves slowly.
Lisette, the main character, grows through her determination to survive the war. In the opening scenes, she comes across as spoiled and resentful. Getting to know Pascal and hearing the history of his pictures changes her outlook, but real growth comes when she is left alone in Roussillion. She realizes how much she loves Andre and determines to survive the war and recover the paintings. Her list enumerates the things she must do to survive the war and cope with the problems of Nazi occupied France. While her struggle is interesting, the pace is very leisurely.
I recommend the book if you enjoy the combination of art, history, and romance, but be prepared for a long read.
I reviewed this book for the Amazon Vine Program.