When Rosy Thornton offered me a review copy of her new novel, The Tapestry of Love, I thought it looked and sounded wonderful – but I wasn’t sure what I would think of it as it’s a bit different from the type of book I usually read. I needn’t have worried though, because I thoroughly enjoyed it! I admit that I had previously been unfamiliar with Rosy Thornton and her books, but now that I’ve been enlightened I would definitely like to read more of her work.
The Tapestry of Love is the story of Catherine Parkstone, a forty-eight year old divorced woman who decides to sell her home in England and buy a cottage in the mountainous Cévennes region of France. Catherine intends to start her own business providing home furnishings for her neighbours, but unfortunately things don’t go quite according to plan. And her life becomes even more complicated when her sister Bryony arrives on a three month sabbatical!
Although the book has a quiet, gentle tone, the plot was interesting enough to hold my attention from beginning to end. There were enough moments of drama to keep the story moving along and some humourous scenes too – for example, Catherine’s telephone conversations with her daughter Lexie, an aspiring journalist who is feeling increasingly disillusioned with her job at a cake-decorating magazine.
I particularly enjoyed reading about all the little details of Catherine’s new life: gardening, cooking, beekeeping, shopping at the market. The real highlight of this book though, is the sense of community: when Catherine first arrives in La Grelaudiere she is a stranger, an outsider, but over time she begins to gain the trust and respect of her neighbours and starts to forge some real friendships. We get to know Monsieur Bouschet and his wife; the reclusive Guillaume; the elderly widow Madame Volpiliere and the enigmatic Patrick Castagnol. The author skilfully brings the characters to life and makes them feel completely realistic.
I’ve never been to the Cévennes, but the mountains, remote hamlets and picturesque villages are described so vividly I could easily build a picture of the area in my mind. While I don’t think I’d be brave enough to do what Catherine did and leave my home and family to move there all on my own, it does seem like a beautiful and peaceful place to live, the kind of place you could easily fall in love with.
I very much enjoyed spending time in the mountains with Catherine and her neighbours. If you’re interested in France, needlework, nature or good food, or if you’re simply looking for an absorbing and well-written story with likeable, believable characters, you should find plenty here to keep you happy.
I received a copy of this book from the author for review
Picture from Wikipedia