In her new novel Deborah Lawrenson tells us two histories entwining, taking place on the same old farmhouse in the Luberon region, but decades apart. There is a young, foreign couple that just met and bought the crumbling farmhouse. They spend a long, hot summer trying to fix the place while the young girl starts to wonder if they really know each other that well. And there is a French family, trying to make a living on the farmstead in the beginning of the 20th century.
Critics praise and rightly so Deborah Lawrenson’s way of conveying colours and sounds, flavours and smells of Provence. She also gets behind the scene, past the « touristy » stuff, the cliché images of Provence and shows the life after the visitors who only know it’s summery face are gone but which I know so well. The quietness of the streets after the summer’s buzz, the mistral howling on the hills and the old houses creaking, the frosty mornings the sun tries to warm with its hesitant rays.
But I must admit that what touched me most personally reading her book is the research Deborah has done about life and labour, history, customs, hardships and poverty of the country in early 20th century, before it became the playground of the rich and famous, the Parisians and the foreigners.
If you like a good thriller that keeps you awake the whole night you will do well with this book. Or if you like to immerse yourself in other cultures and know about other countries, it will do the trick too. In any case it’s a good read and gives a good image of Provence.