Rosie’s #Bookreview Team #RBRT The Promise Of Provence by @patricia_sands

Today’s team review is from Alison, she blogs at

Rosie's Book Review team 1

Alison has been reading The Promise Of Provence by Patricia Sands


The Promise of Provence by Patricia Sands

I’m not really a romance fan, but I was drawn to this book because I love France. But I admit I was a bit wary.

The beginning of this book really draws you in. Katherine goes home after a long day at work hoping to celebrate her anniversary but instead finds her life falling apart. Her husband has left her for a younger woman. Katherine is devastated, and her reaction is portrayed sympathetically and authentically. In too many books these scenarios are treated in a rather cavalier way – the feisty (god, I hate that word) protagonist seems to bounce back and quickly finds love or strength or whatever – but here Katherine suffers, questions herself and definitely hits those lows.

Her mother, an absolutely wonderful character, offers warmth, sympathy and love, and, along with cousin Andrea and friend Molly, helps Katherine to slowly come back to life. But there is more trouble and grief in store, and Katherine decides to go to Provence, a place that holds happy memories from her past.

The descriptions of Provence are wonderful; the detail is engaging and entertaining, especially if, like me, you love France. I can see, however, that it might be too much for some people and I do think readers need to be aware that this book is definitely part travelogue. For me though, that was the interesting bit and I really enjoyed reading about the countryside, the people, the food and the weather.

The book details two trips to France along with more about Katherine’s life back in Canada. This details her relationship with Molly and Molly’s problems. For me, this was part of the book that I really didn’t get along with. I like Katherine; I’m interested in her story. I didn’t like Molly at all, and I wondered why her trials and tribulations were part of the narrative. For me, they detracted from the main story and weren’t necessary. This is about Katherine and I think that the author has gone too far in bringing so much of Molly’s story into the novel.

Leaving out this side plot would also make the book shorter. It is a very long read and there were definitely lots of bits that I thought could have been cut. In all honesty, it could have been half the length.

That said, I surprised myself by enjoying this novel very much. There is something very warm about it, very engaging, and the author’s love of France comes across very clearly.

4 out of 5 stars

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Rosie’s Book Review Team #RBRT Barb reviews A Cry from the Deep by Diana Stevans

Today’s book review is from team member Barb, she blogs at


Barb chose to read and review A Cry From The Deep by Diana Stevan


The south of France’s Provence region, New York City, and Ireland’s beautiful Donegal Bay are some of my favorite places on earth. So when I realized they were the settings for Diana Stevan’s debut novel, A Cry from the Deep, I was excited to receive a review copy.

Margaret is a young woman in late nineteenth century Ireland praying that her sailor lover James returns before she needs to wed another man. When his boat is spotted, she joyously prepares for their wedding and joins him on his ship, the ill-fated Alice O’Meary. In our time, Catherine is a young underwater photographer and mother attempting to recover from the traumatic dive that destroyed both her career and her marriage. When she’s lured away from her lavender farm in the south of France by the chance to document the hunt for a historically significant treasure-laden shipwreck off the Irish coast, she joins the unethical treasure hunter Kurt Henessy and handsome nautical archeologist Daniel Costello. Returning to New York with her young daughter Alex, Catherine’s flea-market purchase of an old gold ring unites the two women from across the centuries as Catherine begins to experience Margaret’s story.

Some of the first romance novels I read—Jane Austen, Charlotte Brontë, Daphne du Maurier—had a slightly removed quality, as if they were reporting on feelings or events instead of experiencing them. Diana Stevan’s debut novel reminds me of them. Of course, writing from different point of views is hard enough. Integrating those alternating POVs across centuries is especially daunting. Dialog and action have to be believable, and characters need a voice that’s individual and memorable enough to immediately identify them for readers. If the main characters’ voices in A Cry From The Deep had been more individual, or displayed more diversity in terms of dialog and personality, it would have been easier to overcome that feeling of distance and connect with them.

For me, this book was three separate stories that didn’t fully integrate. First there was a ghost story, where the connection with Margaret was intriguing, but only hinted at the reasons behind it. Were Catherine and Daniel resurrected versions of the earlier lovers? If not, what did Margaret want them to do? Next, the treasure hunt with pirate-like Henessey was interesting but somewhat repetitive when it came to the dives. Finally, the love triangle with Daniel and ex-husband Richard took the form of Catherine’s internal speculation. For the book to be successful in any of its triple incarnations, I would have liked to see the pivotal Big Moment, where blood, bodies, or at least sex is overwhelming and life changing.

Stevan’s command of grammar and structure is impressive, and her technical descriptions of the dive process were interesting. But her descriptions of the locations I love were bare bones. I felt that the story could have happened anywhere without any particular impact. Because it was well-written, a strong attempt, and an interesting premise, I would give A Cry From The Deep three and a half stars. I think Stevans is a talented writer and this is an impressive debut. I’d love to see another book from her, especially if she lets her characters take some risks.

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The Chapel in the Woods by Susan Louineau

The Chapel in the WoodsThe Chapel in the Woods by Susan Louineau

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This book has 3 distinct parts; a tale from the middle ages, a tale from the war years and a tale set in the modern-day. The whole book is set in a village in France and the chapters go back and forth between all 3 parts, building up the stories. They are all linked with the mysterious Chapel. For me, I wanted more to the ending with lots more details from each of the parts when they all finally melted together. Just a few more details about what happened to Edward and Ellen would have been the icing on the cake.

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Bible of the Dead by Tom Knox

Bible of the DeadBible of the Dead by Tom Knox

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This book spans history from neolithic bones found in a cave in France, to the modern-day. It takes us to Cambodia, Laos and Thailand on a murder mystery that reveals such horrors that it gave me nightmares. This type of book suits a lot of people, just no me!

I’d just like to wish all my readers a Happy Christmas and Great New Year, I’m taking a few days off now, but I’ll be back soon.


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French Children don’t…

There was a very controversial article in the Daily Telegraph yesterday written by Glenda Cooper comparing the parenting styles of the French to us Brits and our cousins across the pond. Glenda was delving into the latest book to be launched in a range of bestsellers which talk about the French way of life. This book “Why French Children Don’t Talk Back” by Catherine Crawford compares the upbringing of her own unruly children to those of her French friend.

I’m sure many of you have read or heard about several others on this same theme, there have been; French Women Don’t get Fat, French Children Don’t get Fat, French Kids Eat Anything and French Children Don’t Throw Food. Truth be told we’d all like to know their secrets.

Glenda summarises her conclusions from the book by comparing the Continental upbringing of children as an echo from our own 1950’s approach to child rearing. Hmm! an interesting theory and one which, I’m sure, will be discussed more in-depth by todays mothers!

Why French Children Don’t Talk Back, by Catherine Crawford.