Rosy Thornton was kind enough to send me a copy of her new book and it looked so tempting I started it straight away. It’s a brave woman (i.e. not me) who would choose to live in a remote mountain village with frequent power cuts, phones which stop working when it rains and terrifying hairpin bends to be negotiated before you can drive anywhere at all. Catherine Parkstone, though, has fallen in love with the Cévennes and is determined to live there, quite alone, making a living (she hopes) from working with textiles. She’s forty eight, divorced; her children grown up, her mother in a nursing home and her sister with a high-powered job.
‘Madame Park-e-stone’ becomes part of the small local community, gets commissions for upholstery and curtain making and spends her leisure time on her own beautiful tapestry work. She even learns to keep bees and apart from the triste rains of autumn and the sweltering heat of June, seems to be living the rural idyll of her dreams. There are two big problems, though: French bureaucracy, which threatens to ruin her business plans and the disturbing presence of attractive, enigmatic Patrick Castagnol. Is he, as her son suggests, ‘too smooth for his own good’? And what exactly is his relationship with her sister?
While reading this book I felt I was living in France. It’s such a treat to read what you might call ‘light literature for intelligent readers’ that I’m already seeking out Rosy Thornton’s earlier books and looking forward to the next one. Highly recommended for summer reading.