I read and reviewed ‘The Undertaker’s Son’ as part of Rosie Amber’s Book Review Team
I have to admit to being a bit of a Francophile so this book appealed straight away although not only because of its setting, but also because Bev Spicer is a writer whose books I’ve enjoyed previously.
I was hooked straight away. The sleepy charm of the French village and the relationships between its inhabitants are all really well drawn. And the character we meet first, Martha, appeals to me with her brave decision to move to France alone to live the life she wants after her marriage collapses.
But this book isn’t a jolly light summer read about British people abroad. It’s far darker and deeper than that. There’s the creepy Claude, whose obsession with a childhood friend, and strange career choice make for a very chilling character; Felix Dumas, a villain that you desperately want to get his just deserts; spoilt, selfish Angeline, who is so intent on her ambitions that she fails to see, and almost loses, what she already has; and unreliable Clement, who I wanted to hate, but whose touching dedication to his father made me warm to him. All these characters, and more, are woven together in a narrative that is intelligent, engrossing and a real pleasure to read.
This isn’t a book with a fast-paced plot, lots of excitement and dramatic twists and turns, but it is no less compelling for that. It is a well-crafted, thoughtful book about people, the choices they make, the secrets they keep, the obsessions that drive them and the paths they choose.
My only gripe is that, having become invested in Martha’s story, I felt that I lost her about half way through; she became simply part of the larger cast of characters, rather than the centre around which the others revolved. Aside from that, I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend this book.