I read ‘The Promise of Provence’ for Rosie Amber’s Book Review Team.
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.