📚Set in France in 1969. Noelle reviews #Histfic Lake Of Echoes by @LizaPerrat, for Rosie’s #Bookreview Team #RBRT

Today’s team review is from Noelle.

Noelle blogs here https://saylingaway.wordpress.com

Orange rose and Rosie's Book Review Team
Rosie’s Book Review Team

Noelle has been reading Lake Of Echoes by Liza Perrat.

Book cover for Lake Of Echoes by Liza Perrat
Lake Of Echoes by Liza Perrat

Juliette lives with her father, Bruno, and her mother, Lea. Her father is headmaster at a local school, and her mother runs L’Auberge de Lea, where they live, together with her father’s mother. The marriage is gradually falling apart, both from Bruno’s apparent infidelity and also Lea’s laser focus running on the auberge, which takes all her time and most of her attention.  The mother-in-law contributes to the turmoil by her unquestioning support of everything her son does and her unending criticism of Lea.

Juliette is witness to the arguments and frequently flees the house to get away from the ugliness. One day she does not return. Neighbors and people from the nearby village are organized into search parties led a local gendarme, who at first thinks Juliette will come home. At time goes by, Lea is tormented by thoughts of what has happened to her daughter but by necessity must continue to run the auberge and face the pity of the villagers. Her sister and her neighbors, one of whom is a self-proclaimed psychic, are her only support.

As the seasons pass, Lea’s despair deepens and Bruno finally moves out, leaving his wife for the teacher with whom Lea thought he was having an affair. The reader is introduced to various men in the village, raising one question after another about who took Juliette. The author creates various paths that never seem to lead to the perpetrator!

Liza Perrat can create complex and compelling characters, and she definitely does here. The reader is privy to the mind of an eight-year-old, to the feckless Bruno, to the apparently tireless and but always prim and proper mother-in-law, and to the mad workings of the mind of Juliette’s captor. You are drawn into Lea’s anguish over her lost child, which only strengthens as time passes. She is willing, as any mother would, to hold onto any sliver of hope, no matter how tenuous, despite the months passing, and the additional impact of the breakup of her marriage. Her inner strength is remarkable. The author truly understand her characters.

This emotional tension is set against the colorful local traditions of rural France, the workings of the auberge, and sumptuous description of the changing seasons around the lake which it overlooks.  And since this in an auberge, there is always tempting French cuisine, the descriptions of which made me dig out my French cookbooks.

Orange rose book description
Book description

A vanished daughter. A failing marriage. A mother’s life in ruins.
1969. As France seethes in the wake of social unrest, eight-year-old Juliette is caught up in the turmoil of her parents’ fragmenting marriage.
Unable to bear another argument, she flees her home.
Neighbours joining the search for Juliette are stunned that such a harrowing thing could happen in their tranquil lakeside village.
But this is nothing compared to her mother, Lea’s torment, imagining what has befallen her daughter.
Léa, though, must remain strong to run her auberge and as the seasons pass with no news from the gendarmes, she is forced to accept she may never know her daughter’s fate.
Despite the villagers’ scepticism, Léa’s only hope remains with a clairvoyant who believes Juliette is alive.
But will mother and daughter ever be reunited?
Steeped in centuries-old tradition, against an enchanting French countryside backdrop, Lake of Echoes will delight your senses and captivate your heart.

Universal link: mybook.to/LakeofEchoesEbook

💕#ContemporaryRomance When Emma Came To Stay by Cheryl Waters. Reviewed by Olga, for Rosie’s #Bookreview Team #RBRT

Today’s team review is from Olga.

Olga blogs here https://www.authortranslatorolga.com

Orange rose and Rosie's Book Review Team
Rosie’s Book Review Team

Olga has been reading When Emma Came To stay by Cheryl Waters.

Book cover for contemporary fiction When Emma Came To Stay by Cheryl Waters
When Emma Came To Stay by Cheryl Waters

The description provides quite a few clues as to what to expect. There are a variety of elements that converge in this novel: we have romances (yes, more than one); we have second chances (for several of the characters involved); we have secrets, lies, and plenty of reveals (not impossible to work out, but they add interest to the story and keep it moving); we have a bit of the adult coming of age story for the protagonist, Emma (whose priorities change massively after losing both, her long-term boyfriend and her long-term job quite by surprise), but, for me, this is mostly a wish fulfilment novel. Not for everybody, of course, because some people would, perhaps, hate the lifestyle the protagonist chooses/finds herself thrown into, but many people will, at some point, have probably wished they could just leave everything behind, move to a different country, and have a go at making a living in a totally different way, in a wonderful setting, staying in a nice house, finding a (new) loving relationship, and acquiring a perfect (if somewhat unconventional) family.  If you are one of those people, you are likely to enjoy this novel. There is no explicit sex, and although Emma’s aunt, Maude, can be a bit outrageous at times, the language used if fairly mild. I won’t say it is unlikely to offend anybody, because I know that is a very personal thing, and a few of the situations and behaviours in the story might not sit well with some readers. I definitely wasn’t offended and didn’t mind Maude’s funny banter, which I find good-humored and endearing.

My favourite things in this book were: the setting, although those who hate long descriptions don’t need to worry, as there aren’t many and they aren’t excessively detailed either; the upbeat attitude of Emma and most of the characters, who take things in their stride, and although they might experience doubts and hesitations, they eventually decide to take a chance and take risks to try to improve things; the characters, especially Maude, who is wonderful. She is youthful, colourful, has a great sense of fun and joy, and is determined to enjoy life and unwilling to slow down due to her age or her ailments. Some of the other characters are somewhat thinly drawn, as the story (other than when it comes to Maude and her past) is very much focused on what is happening now, and we only get rare glimpses of what life has been like for the rest of the characters. But I liked them all well enough, and the main protagonist, Emma, is kind, generous, and it is easy to root for her. This is not a heavy novel, as I have mentioned, and it doesn’t go into the deep psychological reasons for the characters’ actions, and none of them are depicted as particularly complex. There is the typical will they/won’t they situation regarding one of the romances, but the obstacles are not insurmountable, and this isn’t a heavy melodrama where suffering and tragedy play a big part, thankfully.

Was there anything I disliked? Although most of the events are told from Emma’s point of view, and the whole story is narrated in the third person, there are also parts of the story where we get to see what some of the other characters think and feel. That adds to the mystery and to the tension in some cases, as we realise what is going to happen but don’t really know how it is going to come about, but because the swap in point of view can happen from one paragraph to the next and without any clear separation or indication of the change, some readers might get a feeling of head-hopping and take issue with it. Due to the nature of the story and to the rhythm of the narration, I didn’t have any difficulty following the thread and didn’t get lost despite these changes, but I thought I’d warn readers, just in case that might be a serious problem for them.

The other issue I had, and I am aware that it might have to do with my book being an early copy and a paperback at that (and I know formatting can be a nightmare sometimes), was that there were a large number of typos and similar issues (dialogue apostrophes missing, the same or similar word repeated several times in a paragraph…) that could be easily solved by a further round of proofreading if that hasn’t happened already. The writing itself is easy to follow, and there is plenty of everyday life reflected in the story, which follows the rhythm and the chronology of the seasons, and the ending is… well, happy as it should be, with no ifs or buts.

If you’ve always dreamed of changing your life completely and finding the perfect adoptive family, in a beautiful setting, with a good dose of romance and good cheer thrown in, I would recommend you to check this book. It will make you smile.

Orange rose book description
Book description

Emma’s just turned thirty. She’s just lost her job. And she’s just as single as she always is. Fortunately, her beloved Aunt Maude – a fun-loving septuagenarian – lives in the south of France. It’s just what Emma needs: time to swim in the sea that sparkles, let the sun kiss her skin, and to work out what she wants and where she’s going.

When yacht-owning Marc comes sailing into her life, Emma can’t believe her luck! But there is something she just can’t work out about him…

When her fun-loving aunt ends up in hospital Emma learns that Maude has her own secrets. Just how did her aunt come to have a masterpiece in her attic?

As this delightful corner of France wraps Emma (and us) up in its charms, we wonder if Marc is all that she wants – or is true love somewhat closer to home?

AmazonUK | AmazonUS

📚Historic Domestic #Thriller. Frank Reviews Lake Of Echoes by @LizaPerrat, for Rosie’s #Bookreview Team #RBRT #TuesdayBookBlog

Today’s team review is from Frank.

Find out more about Frank here https://franklparker.com/

Orange rose and Rosie's Book Review Team
Rosie’s Book Review Team

Frank has been reading Lake Of Echoes by Liza Perrat

Book cover for Lake Of Echoes by Liza Perrat
Lake Of Echoes by Liza Perrat

There is so much that is great about this book that it is difficult to know where to start. So I will start at the beginning. Léa took on the business of running an Auberge beside a lake in rural France in order to give her something to take her mind off the tragic loss of her son by cot death at just 3 months old. Now, in 1969, it is clear that her marriage is on the rocks. She and husband Bruno, Head Master at the village school, are constantly bickering, blaming each other for the tragedy. During one particularly heated exchange their 8 year old daughter, Juliette, wanders off. When she does not return we have the beginnings of a tension filled mystery. And the ensuing plot is handled with consummate skill by this Australian writer who has lived in France for more than two decades.

For those of us old enough to remember them, the years embracing the end of the sixties and beginning of the seventies can offer a rosy hued vision of ‘flower power’; of Height Ashbury and Woodstock, of armed guards confronted by hippies pushing flowers into the barrels of their guns. But it was also a time of riots across several European nations and the USA, of the cold war and fears of communism and nuclear war; a time when strange cults emerged led by charismatic psychopaths who brainwashed their adherents into believing dangerous nonsense. It is this atmosphere that Perrat taps into with her mesmerising tale.

The first half of the book concentrates on Léa’s attempts to come to terms with the loss of another child. As weeks pass and nobody is found whilst more girls from the same age group disappear, we share her anger at the incompetence of the Gendarmerie. When she seeks help from a friend who claims to be clairvoyant she is treated with scorn. Meanwhile readers are provided with tantalising glimpses of the abductor and his henchwomen, his wife and sister.

The second half of the book presents a description of the lives of the girls under the discipline ordered by the abductor and administered by the women. The abductor’s master plan is revealed and tension rises as Juliette devises an escape plan.

The climax is superbly handled. There is no siege by armed gendarmes as might be the case today. I can’t tell you how the situation is resolved, for that would spoil your pleasure in reading it for yourself, something which I urge you to do.

The events are told from the different points of view of several of the characters. Each has a unique and utterly believable voice. The children, especially, are beautifully drawn. Animals, too, have important roles and their behaviour demonstrates the author’s skill as an observer of every aspect of life in rural France. So, too, do her descriptions of the landscape and climate. It is these details that bring the novel to life and make it one of the best domestic thrillers you will read in a long time. I wish I could award more than 5 stars.

Orange rose book description
Book description

A vanished daughter. A failing marriage. A mother’s life in ruins.
1969. As France seethes in the wake of social unrest, eight-year-old Juliette is caught up in the turmoil of her parents’ fragmenting marriage.
Unable to bear another argument, she flees her home.
Neighbours joining the search for Juliette are stunned that such a harrowing thing could happen in their tranquil lakeside village.
But this is nothing compared to her mother, Lea’s torment, imagining what has befallen her daughter.
Léa, though, must remain strong to run her auberge and as the seasons pass with no news from the gendarmes, she is forced to accept she may never know her daughter’s fate.
Despite the villagers’ scepticism, Léa’s only hope remains with a clairvoyant who believes Juliette is alive.
But will mother and daughter ever be reunited?
Steeped in centuries-old tradition, against an enchanting French countryside backdrop, Lake of Echoes will delight your senses and captivate your heart.

AmazonUk | AmazonUS

🌅#HistoricalFiction Lake Of Echoes by @LizaPerrat. Reviewed for Rosie’s #Bookreview Team #RBRT by @OlgaNM7 #TuesdayBookBlog

Today’s team review is from Olga.

Olga blogs here https://www.authortranslatorolga.com

Orange rose and Rosie's Book Review Team
Rosie’s Book Review Team

Olga has been reading Lake Of Echoes by Liza Perrat

Book cover for Lake Of Echoes by Liza Perrat
Lake Of Echoes by Liza Perrat

I had access to a very early ARC of this novel by Liza Perrat, the first in a new series, which I freely chose to review.

I came across Perrat’s novels through Rosie’s Book Review Team and have been an admirer and follower since. She writes historical fiction set in a variety of eras (from the Middle Ages to WWII, mostly in France) and also fiction set in the second half of the XX century, often in her native Australia. She combines complex and compelling characters (female characters usually take centre stage), with plots that grab the readers’ attention and don’t let go. That combined with a very vivid style of writing, the epitome of showing rather than telling (one can really see, smell, hear, and even taste what is happening to the characters and share in their experiences) mean that reading her novels is a truly immersive experience.

And this one is not an exception, but rather an excellent example of the best qualities of her writing.

Imagine a woman who’s already lost a child, having to live through the kidnapping of her now only daughter. Léa, who had poured her energies into her new project (an auberge by a beautiful lake) in an attempt at regaining some peace and thirst for life, is devastated, and her relationship with her husband, already strained, ends up breaking. To make matters worse, three other girls are also kidnapped and efforts to find them fail. Life becomes increasingly difficult, and the only hope Léa has comes from her two neighbours and friends, Clotilde and Bev, as Clotilde reads the cards and insists that the girls are all alive and well. Of course, nobody else believes them, time passes, and some sort of life develops, but Léa and her family keep waiting. And… Of course, I’m not going to tell you what happens, but the story deals with grief, loss, family relationships, also life in a small (French) village, prejudices and rumours, and how life has changed since the late 1960s (so close and yet so far).

I have mentioned Léa, who tells her story in the first person, with some fragments (in italics) when she remembers the past in a vivid and immersive manner that makes us identify with her, and suffer her same pain. Louise, Léa’s mother-in-law, is a strong character, one who is always proper and maintains the façade, no matter how difficult things get or what she might be feeling inside. We don’t see the story from her perspective, but we share in some of the other characters’ stories, although those are told in the third person. This is the case for Juliette, who is a delightful girl, intelligent, but she behaves like a normal eight-year-old and does not fully understand what is happening. Her interaction with the other girls and with the kidnapper and the people helping him (some more willingly than others) is tough to read but it feels believable within the parameters of the story.

We also get to share in the thoughts of the kidnapper (although we only know him by the identity he adopts and not his real one), his sister, Alice (a favourite of mine, despite her circumstances), and his wife, and there are other characters featured as well, all in the third person, with the occasional flashback. This maintains the mystery while allowing readers more insight into aspects of the story the authorities and the mother know nothing about.

It is difficult to talk about the baddy without revealing too much, but let me tell you he is a great creation, and being in his head at times is a scary and horrifying experience.

The setting is truly wonderful. Despite the horrific aspects of the story, it is impossible not to love the lake, the villages around it, the wonderful traditions, the festivals, the cooking… I am looking forward to reading more stories set in the area, and I know the author is already working on the second one.

The writing, as I’ve mentioned, is beautiful and also heart-wrenching at times. We experience the emotions of the characters, and also the wonders of nature, the change of seasons, and even the pets and animals have their own personalities and help readers feel at home there. Readers need not worry about the different points of view causing confusion, as there are no sudden changes in narrative voice, each chapter is told from a single perspective, clearly indicated, and the story is told in chronological order, apart from a few chapters, and with the dates also featuring at the head of each new chapter.

The whole of the story has something of the fairy tale, with Gothic-like houses, dangerous rivers, sometimes magical and sometimes scary woods, strange people living in the forest, and some characters that will remind us of some beloved characters. But the narrative works on many levels, and I was totally invested in the mystery as well. There are plenty of clues, red herrings, and hints dropped throughout the story, and many possible suspects. There is also a gendarme, Major Rocamadour, who grows on us as the story progresses, and we discover he is not all business. He does have a pretty tough nut to crack, though, but, without revealing too much, I can say that I enjoyed the ending, and the story ends up on a hopeful note.

I recommend this wonderfully written story to anybody who loves imagination, great characters, a strong plot, and who love a setting full of charm but also some underlying darkness and menace. Anybody who has read and enjoyed Liza Perrat’s previous novels is in for a treat, and those who haven’t met her yet… Well, what are you waiting for?

Orange rose book description
Book description

A vanished daughter. A failing marriage. A mother’s life in ruins.
1969. As France seethes in the wake of social unrest, eight-year-old Juliette is caught up in the turmoil of her parents’ fragmenting marriage.
Unable to bear another argument, she flees her home.
Neighbours joining the search for Juliette are stunned that such a harrowing thing could happen in their tranquil lakeside village.
But this is nothing compared to her mother, Lea’s torment, imagining what has befallen her daughter.
Léa, though, must remain strong to run her auberge and as the seasons pass with no news from the gendarmes, she is forced to accept she may never know her daughter’s fate.
Despite the villagers’ scepticism, Léa’s only hope remains with a clairvoyant who believes Juliette is alive.
But will mother and daughter ever be reunited?
Steeped in centuries-old tradition, against an enchanting French countryside backdrop, Lake of Echoes will delight your senses and captivate your heart.

Universal link: mybook.to/LakeofEchoesEbook

On The Trail Of Family Secrets In France. @LizanneLloyd reviews In My Mother’s Footsteps by Cheryl Waters.

Today’s team review is from Liz. She blogs here https://lizannelloyd.wordpress.com/

Rosie's #Bookreview Team #RBRT

Liz has been reading In My Mother’s Footsteps by Cheryl Waters

It is easy to identify with Claire, the heroine of this novel. We share her grief at failed IVF treatment and then discover that her marriage to her teenage sweetheart has been betrayed. After the death of her mother, she has nothing to keep her in her hometown. Arranging to work remotely, as a travel writer, she sets out for France, where her mother had worked as a nanny before she was born.

Claire feels at home immediately, so she rents a cottage for 6 months. She is astonished to encounter a man she last met when she was in a distressed state in England. He was kind then and is good company now. But Claire has been ignoring a letter left for her by her mother. It concerns Gloria’s time working at a chateau and casts doubt on Claire’s parentage. The section written from Gloria’s point of view is particularly engaging.

I found this kindle version difficult to follow at first, due to its faulty formatting. Words divided by commas run into one and some pages are set out like poetry. My enjoyment would have been increased by good formatting.

Despite that, this is a lovely story of new beginnings and forgiveness and includes detailed descriptions of the beautiful French countryside.

4 stars.

Desc 1

They say bad things come in threes, and for Claire that is certainly the case. Her mother passes away, her last-chance IVF treatment is negative and then she spots her husband of twenty years with their next-door neighbour. They are definitely more than friends!

 Devastated, Claire decides to travel to the French countryside where she used to spend time in her childhood. Full of fond memories, it’s the perfect place to heal. But she packs with her something that changes the course of her trip – a mysterious letter from her late mother.

As Claire settles in France, she cannot put the letter and the secrets it holds out of her mind. She needs answers. Claire sets off on a path of discovery to trace her mother’s footsteps to a chateau she once worked at.  What will she find along the way?

AmazonUK | AmazonUS

Rosie’s #Bookreview Of #Contemporary #Fiction THE WOMEN WHO RAN AWAY by @sheilaoflanagan @headlinepg

The Women Who Ran AwayThe Women Who Ran Away by Sheila O’Flanagan

4 stars

The Women Who Ran Away is a contemporary story about family, friendships and the journey of life for the two women in this book.

Deira is distraught after the breakdown of her relationship with Gavin, so when tickets for their planned European holiday arrive, she decides to go away by herself.

Grace is ready to take the ferry across to France. She has a detailed itinerary which will end in Spain; the holiday has been planned by her husband, but Grace is travelling alone.

This is a lovely story about two ladies who find it easier to be truthful about their lives to a stranger than to their family and friends. Deira and Grace travel together after a misfortune to Deira’s car and  they solve clues to a treasure hunt set by Grace’s book loving husband. During their time together they both find healing a peace.

Fans of O’Flanagan’s books should enjoy this and I believe it would also make an ideal holiday read.

View all my reviews on Goodreads

Book description

Deira is setting out on the holiday she’d planned with her long-term partner Gavin… only she’s on her own. Gavin will not be amused when he finds out she’s ‘borrowed’ his car, but since their brutal break-up Deira’s not been acting rationally. Maybe a drive through beautiful France will help her see things differently…

Grace has been sent on a journey by her late husband, Ken. She doesn’t really want to be on it but she’s following his instructions as always. She can only hope that the trip will help her to forgive him. And then – finally – she’ll be able to let him go.

Thrown together by chance, Deira and Grace are soon motoring down the French highways, sharing intriguing stories of their pasts, as they each consider the future…

AmazonUK | AmazonUS

50020702

#Romance The Captain And The Cavalry Trooper by @MadameGilflurt And @e_harkstead

The Captain and the Cavalry Trooper (The Captivating Captains #1)The Captain and the Cavalry Trooper by Catherine Curzon

4 stars

The Captain And The Cavalry Trooper is book #1 in the Captivating Captains series. It is a romance set in the latter years of World War 1.

Trooper Jack Woodvine is sent to Chateau de Desgravier where he will be Captain Thorne’s latest groom. Both the Captain and his horse Apollo share fierce reputations; several previous grooms have been kicked by the horse and yelled at by the Captain. But Jack grew up on a farm and with gypsy blood running through him; he has a talent for calming horses with just a whisper

The Chateau is home to an eclectic mix of soldiers, all awaiting orders from the front, with some praying they never see the fighting. Trooper ‘Queenie’ Charles prefers silk robes to his khaki attire and makes sure everyone knows how dangerous he can be. He’ll do anything to keep himself away from the warfare.

When Jack meets Captain Thorne, he’s instantly attracted to both the man and his steed. He believes he sees something behind the icy façade. With the threat of war all around, the chateau offers an enchanting place to escape the horrors of combat and to live, for a while, in just the moment. The men fall in love and begin a clandestine affair, but dangerous prying eyes miss nothing.

As the call to the frontline becomes imminent, Thorne attempts to keep Jack safe, but his plans backfire. They both find themselves on the battle line and the war is hungry for more soldiers to chew on and spit out.

This book is primarily an MM romance, but the unusual Chateau setting in wartime France worked well. I could easily picture the stables and yard features, while I understood the hopes and fears of the soldiers. The romance was daring in a time when the men would have been corporally punished if caught, but the author has blurred lines of social acceptance that might have been stricter elsewhere. An enjoyable story which fits the genre well.

View all my reviews on Goodreads

Book description

As the Great War tears Europe apart, two men from different worlds find sanctuary in each other’s arms.

Captain Robert Thorne is the fiercest officer in the regiment. Awaiting the command to go to the front, he has no time for simpering, comely lads. That’s until one summer day in 1917 when his dark, flashing eye falls upon the newest recruit at Chateau de Desgravier, a fresh-faced farmer’s boy with little experience of life and a wealth of poetry in his heart.

Trooper Jack Woodvine has a way with strong, difficult stallions, and whispers them to his gentle will. Yet even he has never tamed a creature like Captain Thorne.

With the shadow of the Great War and the scheming of enemies closer to home threatening their fleeting chance at happiness, can the Captain and the Cavalry Trooper make it home safely? More importantly, will they see peacetime together?

AmazonUK | AmazonUS | Twitter (Catherine Curzon) | Twitter (Eleanor Harstead)

Rosie’s #BookReview Team #RBRT @OlgaNM7 reviews #HistFic Blood Rose Angel by @LizaPerrat

Today’s team review is from Olga, she blogs at http://www.authortranslatorolga.com

#RBRT Review Team

Olga has been reading Blood Rose Angel by Liza Perrat

26885750

My review:

I write this review as a member of Rosie’s Book Review Team and thank her and the author for this opportunity.

This is the third novel I have read in the series The Bone Angel and the fourth novel by Liza Perrat. (You can check my reviews of Spirit of Lost Angel here, Wolfsangel here and The Silent Kookaburra here.) You might have guessed by now that I enjoy her books. Having read The Silent Kookaburra first, for quite a while I thought that was my favourite of the author’s novels (and don’t get me wrong, I enjoyed the others) but now, I’m not so sure.

We are in Lucie-sur-Vionne, France, 1348. The whole series is set in the same location and follows the characters of the female line of a family who are linked by their midwifery skills (or wish to care for others) and by the passing of a talisman, the bone angel of the title. All the women of the series feel a strange connection to this angel (whose story/legend we hear, first- hand, in this book) and to each other, although this novel is, so far, the one set further back in the past, and at a very momentous time (like all the others). The Black Death decimated a large part of the world population and this novel offers us the perspective of the people who lived through it and survived to tell the tale.

The story is narrated, mostly in the first person, by midwife Héloïse, whose birth was problematic (her mother, Ava, a midwife herself, died before she was born and her aunt, Isa, extracted her from the womb) and due to the superstitions of the time, she was shunned and taunted as a child (she was not only a bastard, as her father was unknown, but she was also ‘unborn’). She always felt guilty for her mother’s death and resisted becoming a midwife due to that. But, eventually, she heeded her calling, learned from her aunt, and has become loved and appreciated by most people (apart from a few villagers who blame her for unlucky events). Unfortunately, as human nature dictates, when the epidemic reaches the village (at the same time as her husband, a stonemason who had been working in Florence) and people start dying, everybody looks for someone to blame, be it cats, the Jews, the lepers, or… There are a few chapters told from other characters’ point of view, only to complete the picture when Heloise is otherwise engaged (I’m trying not to give any spoilers here).

Héloïse is a strong-willed woman, who struggles between trying to fulfill her vocation (what she sees as her mission no matter how little recompense he gets for it) and being a dutiful wife who puts her husband and family above everything else. She is a compelling character and one that rings true and whose situation is ever relevant, especially to women who always have to try and find a balance between career and family life. She is a worthy heroine, who cares for people, who tries to do the right thing, even if it might cost her, who perseveres and remains faithful to her ideas, who doubts and questions acknowledged ‘truths’, and who is a natural leader. The rest of the characters, both, villagers and nobles, good and nasty, are all well-defined and recognisable, although perhaps the female characters are drawn in more detail than the males (although midwifery and birthing was women’s business at the time, so it is understandable), and I must say I felt like a member of her extended family by the end of the book.

The novel’s plot is fascinating and as good as any historical fiction I have read. History and fiction blend seamlessly to create a story that is gripping, emotionally satisfying, and informative. Even when we might guess some of the twists and turns, they are well-resolved, and the ending is satisfying. (I have read some reviews that mention it is a bit rushed. It is true that it all comes together at a faster pace than the rest of the novel, but my suspicion is that readers didn’t want the story to end. I know that was my case).  The life of the villagers is well observed, as is the relationship between the different classes, the politics of the era, the role of religion, the power held by nobles and the church, the hypocrisy, superstition, and prejudice, and the social mores and roles of the different genders. The descriptions of the houses, clothing, medical and midwifery procedures, and the everyday life are detailed enough to make us feel immersed in the era without slowing down the plot, that is a page turner in its own right. I particularly enjoyed the sense of community (strongly dominated by women) and the optimism that permeates the novel, showing the strength of the human spirit even in the hardest of circumstances. The author includes a glossary at the end that explains the words no longer in use that appear in the novel and also provides background information on the Black Death and the historical figures that grace its pages. Although it is evident that the book involved a great deal of research, this is flawlessly weaved into the story and add to the feeling of authenticity.

This novel, like the rest of the series, can be read as a stand-alone, although I doubt that anybody reading it will not want to read the rest.

Another great novel by Liza Perrat and one of my favourites. I will not forget it in a hurry and I hope to keep reading more novels by the author. I recommend it to readers of historical fiction, especially those interested in the era, the Black Death, and medical techniques of the time, readers of women’s fiction, and anybody looking for great characters and a writer to follow.

Book Description

1348. A bone-sculpted angel and the woman who wears it––heretic, Devil’s servant, saint.
Midwife Héloïse has always known that her bastard status threatens her standing in the French village of Lucie-sur-Vionne. Yet her midwifery and healing skills have gained the people’s respect, and she has won the heart of the handsome Raoul Stonemason. The future looks hopeful. Until the Black Death sweeps into France.
Fearful that Héloïse will bring the pestilence into their cottage, Raoul forbids her to treat its victims. Amidst the grief and hysteria, the villagers searching for a scapegoat, Héloïse must choose: preserve her marriage, or honour the oath she swore on her dead mother’s soul? And even as she places her faith in the protective powers of her angel talisman, she must prove she’s no Devil’s servant, her talisman no evil charm.

About the author

Liza Perrat

Liza grew up in Wollongong, Australia, where she worked as a general nurse and midwife for fifteen years.
When she met her French husband on a Bangkok bus, she moved to France, where she has been living with her family for twenty years. She works part-time as a French-English medical translator, and as a novelist.
Since completing a creative writing course ten years ago, several of her short stories have won awards, notably the Writers Bureau annual competition of 2004 and her stories have been published widely in anthologies and small press magazines. Her articles on French culture and tradition have been published in international magazines such as France Magazine, France Today and The Good Life France.

Spirit of Lost Angels is the first in the French historical “The Bone Angel” series set against a backdrop of rural France during the French Revolution. The second in the series, Wolfsangel, set during the WWII Nazi Occupation of France, was published in October, 2013. The third, Blood Rose Angel, set during the 14th century Black Plague years was published in November, 2015.
Friends, Family and Other Strangers is a collection of humorous, horrific and entertaining short stories set in Australia.
Liza is a founding member of the Author Collective, Triskele Books and regularly reviews books for Bookmuse.

Goodreads | AmazonUK | AmazonUS | Twitter

Rosie’s #BookReview Team #RBRT Mediterranean Summer by @JaneFMackenzie

Today’s second team review is from Alison, she blogs here http://alisonwilliamswriting.wordpress.com/

#RBRT Review Team

Alison has been reading Mediterranean Summer by Jane MacKenzie

35254506

I’m a bit of a Francophile. France is definitely my favourite place to visit and I plan to move there permanently one day – Brexit permitting. So I love reading anything set in France and this novel, set just after the civil unrest of Paris in 1968, sounded intriguing.

Art student Laure is returning home to her quiet village after her involvement in the Paris demonstrations. She needs to rest and recover, and she also needs to find a way to resolve the problem hanging over her – a problem that could mean the end of her studies.

At first the peace and solitude are soothing, and Laure enjoys reconnecting with her family and her childhood friends. But her brother-in-law Daniel has a new job at the Nobel factory in Paulilles, and trainee doctor Martin, his brother and Laure’s best friend, is worried about the risks the workers there face from exposure to nitro-glycerine.

The gorgeous summer is clouded by these issues and with Laure’s worries over what has happened in Paris. Then Martin’s cousin Robert, a lawyer from Paris, offers to help. The novel focuses on these relationships – between Laure and Robert, Laure and her family, and Laure and Martin’s family.

There is romance here, and conflict, and at the heart is a girl trying to find her place in a changing world. Laure is a lovely main character, and the interactions between the characters are well-written. There are some beautiful descriptions, of the little towns, the gorgeous countryside, and, of course, the wonderful food, and this part of France is really brought to life through the writing.

It’s a gently-paced read, which works well with the setting. However, it was too slow at times, and, while the descriptions were beautifully done, there were places where they went on for too long, and I did find myself skipping ahead. I do feel that this novel could be quite a bit shorter.

It was also a little difficult to keep track of the many characters and their complicated relationships – though it was worth persevering. The writing was a little too formal at times as well, and came across as a little forced and unnatural. However, on the whole this is a lovely novel, just right for a summer read.

Four out of five stars

Book Description

‘Beautiful artist, beautiful woman, and beautiful lover.’
May 1968 and Paris is hot with rebellion, passion and hope, as protestors clash with the riot police. Brilliant art student Laure stands boldly on the barricades, heady with her new-found defiance, and is swept into romance with Lolo, the fascinating student leader. But youthful rebellion comes at a cost.
Two months later, the excitement is over. Laure heads home for the summer to Vermeilla, her picturesque Mediterranean village. She looks forward to the simplicity of village life, and to a summer in the sun with family and friends, but is aware that the new Laure may shock her little Catalan community.
But even Vermeilla isn’t protected from the forces of change. Shadows hang over both Laure and her village haven. Can she battle the menace that has followed her from Paris? And can she trust Robert, the aloof lawyer who may be the only one who can keep her safe?

About the author

Jane MacKenzie

Jane MacKenzie has lived an exceptionally adventurous life, working in such far-flung corners of the world as the Gambia, Bahrain, and Papua New Guinea, and Switzerland and France nearer to home.
She is as much at home teaching in an African village as organising the research budgets of Nobel scientists, and is a natural linguist, picking up languages wherever she has lived, to complement the fluent French from her first degree in French Language and Literature.
She is an entrepreneur, an international expert in education, and latterly helped transform the UK Government’s Office at CERN in Geneva during two years as its Head. In her fifties Jane turned to writing novels, for a new challenge, and to fulfil a long-held dream.
Jane splits her time now between her homes in the Scottish Highlands, and in her beloved Catalan village in France, the region where her three novels have been set.

Goodreads | AmazonUK |  AmazonUS | Twitter