Review and Giveaway: “In the Shade of the Almond Trees” by Dominique Marny #FranceBT

1 Oct

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MY REVIEW

In the Shade of the Almond Trees by Dominique Marny is historical fiction at the intersection of many of the features I especially appreciate: It is a family saga. Set in the immediate time after the First World War, it shows the effects on family life at the home front. The Barthélemy family has lost their patriarch, who died at Verdun. His widow and children must deal with their grief and the challenge of running their business in the postwar economic climate.  It is set in the French countryside, outside the village of Cotignac, in the center of Provence, where the Barthélemy almond trees and olive groves have provided the family’s livelihood.

Cotignac_centre

Place de la mairie de Cotignac – Var – France. By Technob105 (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0], via Wikimedia Commons

The pace of Marny’s prose is measured and restful, like the undulating rows of olive trees in their estate of Restanques.

“They went around a pigeon coop, then down the steps that led to the yard’s first terrace. Restanques spread down a hill over several acres planted with almond, olive, and fig trees, all on terraces held together by stone walls.” (p. 11)

This view, which Jeanne Barthélemy shows visiting botanist (and soon-to-be love interest) Jérôme Guillaumin, may be restful but the problems she faces are urgent and unsettling: how to maintain the smooth operation and solvency of the almond nougat and olive oil businesses without the support of her mother or the immediate help of her brother, Laurent who is bitten by wanderlust. As a further complication, an opportunist land speculator called René Verdier has bought the neighboring estate of Bel Horizon, with an eye to romancing the naive Barthélemy widow and gaining control of Restanques too.  Jeanne tackles the demands of running her businesses with determination and creativity, but very humanly, she faces genuine discouragement at times and her own romantic blind alleys.  But, as Jérôme advises her,

“You’re pursuing a dream–yours, which gives your life meaning. … What you’re accomplishing here, right now, will be yours forever.” (p. 174)

What I liked most about this novel was that it presented two strong female characters, who were NOT romantic rivals, but rather childhood friends, whose lives converged again at this critical moment.  Rosalie is the niece of Apolline who had worked for the Barthélemy family for many years. When Rosalie joins her aunt and begins to work for them as a maid, the two young women find themselves side by side, their friendship renewed but complicated by the differences in their situations. Jeanne is now Rosalie’s employer.  Marny does an excellent job of showing us Rosalie’s aspirations and conflicts as often and as deeply as Jeanne’s. In fact, their romantic lives are running in parallel to some degree, both having three significant men in their lives. For Jeanne, they are Régis Cuvelier, a self-centered playboy who nevertheless keeps a strong hold on her; Antoine Laferrière, a businessman who persistently offers her financial help–and his heart; and Jérôme, who is elusive and independent.  Soon after she arrives, beautiful Rosalie gives her heart to Laurent Barthélemy, but his restlessness and immaturity pose significant obstacles. Vulnerable and dissatisfied with her position, she becomes entangled with Verdier, at great cost.  She is nearly oblivious to the loyal attention of François, who works managing the estates and is likewise ambitious to make something better of his life.

At the risk of repeating a stereotype, this novel felt ‘very French’ to me (in the best way!), focusing as it did on the sometimes disastrous love affairs of the principal characters. Perhaps that is just the hallmark of good historical romance, in any language!  As I read, I instantly compared this novel to The Rocheforts, which I also reviewed for France Book Tours (see The Rocheforts tour quotations) this year.  Like it, In the Shade of the Almond Trees gives a glimpse of the workings of the family’s agriculturally based business–information which I found especially helpful in rounding out the picture of French life at the historical time and place.  The Rocheforts perhaps emphasized the business side more, as it presented the intertwined relations of two families over several generations. With the strength of this book’s compassionate portrayals of Jeanne and Rosalie, and Marny’s sure hand in crafting a well-paced story, In the Shade of the Almond Trees captured my interest throughout, and I can highly recommend this slice of Provençal life and love in the aftermath of the First World War.

I also look forward to reading Marny’s previous novel in translation I Looked for the One My Heart Loves.

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In the Shade of the Almond Trees

Dominique Marny

on  Tour

September 29 – October 8

with

In the Shade of the Almond Trees

(historical fiction)

 Release date: September 29, 2015
at Open Road Media

280  pages

ISBN: 978-1480461178

Website | Goodreads

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SYNOPSIS

In the aftermath of World War I, a family estate hangs in the balance.

For generations, the Barthélemy family tended to the olive trees of Restanques, a sprawling property in Cotignac whose olive oil and almonds were as incredible as the countryside that produced them. But all that changed when war came to France. Robert Barthélemy never returned from the trenches, and without him, the farm is beginning to die. His widow has lost the will to live, and only the fierce efforts of their daughter, Jeanne, have kept the creditors at bay.

Jeanne is spending an afternoon at home with the family’s grim financial statements when a handsome stranger appears on the front steps. His name is Jérôme Guillaumin and he is a brilliant botanist about to embark on a journey around the globe. From the moment they meet, Jeanne is struck by feelings she never thought possible: feelings that could save her life or destroy everything she has ever known.

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In the Shade of the Almond Trees - Dominique MarnyABOUT THE AUTHOR

Dominique Marny
was raised in a family
that loved art, literature, adventure, and travel.
In addition to being a novelist,
she is a playwright and screenwriter,
and writes for various magazines.

Visit the author’s website (in French)

Follow her on Facebook

Buy the book

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GIVEAWAY

Global giveaway open internationally:
2 participants will each win a copy of this book.
Print/digital format for US residents
Digital for all other residents

Be sure to follow each participant on Twitter/Facebook,
for more chances to win

Enter here

Visit each blogger on the tour:
tweeting about the giveaway everyday
of the Tour will give you 5 extra entries each time!
[just follow the directions on the entry-form]

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CLICK ON THE BANNER
TO READ OTHER REVIEWS AND EXCERPTS

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*Note*: I received an advance copy of this book, in exchange for an honest review.  I did not receive any other compensation, and the views expressed in my review are my own opinions.

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#FrightFall Read-a-thon 2015: Some (semi-scary) Fairy Tales!

27 Sep

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Fairy tales are just about the right level of “scary” for me.  I send big thanks to Michelle at Seasons of Reading for graciously hosting these delightful seasonal events (and for letting me go easy on the “fright” aspect in October)!  Here is my #FrightFall read-a-thon lineup for next week:

Deerskin by Robin McKinley is just gorgeously written. I’ve already started this one, and I hope to finish it during the read-a-thon.  It is a retelling of Charles Perrault’s “Donkeyskin” and it is considered a CINDERELLA variant–certainly a scarier version of that story, since it deals with the widowed father’s dark depression and misdirected attachment to his daughter. King Lear is another variant of the Donkeyskin tale.

White as Snow by Tanith Lee promises to be an especially chilling retelling of the Snow White story, with a twist, given my experience with every short story by Tanith Lee I’ve read. I’m looking forward to this full length fairy-tale novel of hers. And what stylish cover art by Thomas Canty! (The lovely Deerskin cover painting is by artist Dawn Wilson.)

Beauty by Robin McKinley is also on my list, if I can get to it. I will be reading this for our Lit Collective discussion in March on fairy tales and fairy-tale retellings.  (Visit our group page on Goodreads for more information about the Lit Collective and other books we’re reading for March. Michelle–aka, the True Book Addict–is also one of the moderators for this group, along with Heather of Between the Covers and Laura of Book Snob.)

Good luck to all the #FrightFall participants and may they be pleasantly scared by their eerie, mysterious, or truly frightening reads to kick off October. Sign-ups continue through Friday (11:59 CST) of the read-a-thon week, and there will be a very generous giveaway at the end, eligible to those who post a wrap-up by Tuesday after the read-a-thon.

High Summer Read-a-thon 2015 Wraps Up! #HSReadathon

28 Jul

high summer readathon 2015

Summer is a prime time for reading, isn’t it?  Usually.  But some summers are so packed with activity that reading is done only in bits and snatches.  Nevertheless, thanks to the High Summer Read-a-thon, hosted graciously by Michelle at her blog Seasons of Reading, I found some quality reading time this weekend and at last made some progress with Harbor by John Ajvide Lindqvist.  It is our July selection for TuesBookTalk Read-a-Longs and I am finally past the half-way mark and starting to discover some of the book’s chilling secrets.  It begins to remind me of a Shirley Jackson story, but set in a remote Swedish fishing village. Lindqvist ’s novels have gained a wide international following, and I was glad to have this little push to read one of them. I came across his name in the course of my Northern Lights Reading Project, and when I finish this book, I will review it there.

In nonfiction, I started reading Becoming Madison: the extraordinary origins of the least likely founding father by Michael Signer.  I visited Madison’s newly restored home of Montpelier in northern Virginia a few years ago, when the main house was opened to visitors and the archaeology of the entire plantation was well underway, and this sparked my interest in Madison’s life.  Signer gave an excellent talk about Madison on C-Span’s BookTV last weekend, and after listening, I spent much of the rest of the day reading his book on my kindle (ah, the joys and temptations of instant book gratification!).

I hope all this year’s participants had a lovely Read-a-Thon, and I did too, after all. Visit Seasons of Reading to find out what everyone was reading, via the wrap-up links.

“Madame Bovary” (2014)–a Film Review

14 Jun
Madame Bavary (2014) film poster. Copyright: Aden Film, Aleph Motion Pictures, Left Field Ventures, Occupant Entertainment, Radiant Films International. See Wikipedia page for this image for fair use guidelines.

Madame Bovary (2014) film poster. Copyright: Aden Film, Aleph Motion Pictures, Left Field Ventures, Occupant Entertainment, Radiant Films International. See Wikipedia for fair use guidelines.

Madame Bovary (2014), a film by Sophie Barthes, stars Mia Wasikowska as Emma Bovary, the iconic woman created by Flaubert in his 1857 novel. Wasikowska’s name has appeared on this blog before, when she excelled in two other roles based on Fictional 100 characters: Jane Eyre and Alice in Wonderland. A little older now, she succeeds once again in embodying the unhappily married Madame Bovary.

As in Fukunaga’s Jane Eyre film, this film opens with a scene of Wasikowska running outdoors, in desperate flight from something. Both films then proceed to tell their stories in flashback. Wasikowska can certainly fill the screen with her resolute quiet; whereas as Jane Eyre this denoted her discretion and strongly principled character, as Emma Bovary, her quiet masks her restless, troubled inner life and her felt need for growing deceptions.  The first changes, though, are not hidden but very visible in her acquisition–on credit–of new stylish clothes for herself and furnishings for the house she shares with her benign, country-doctor husband Charles. At first, she rebuffed the insinuating offers of Monsier Lheureux (l’heureux means “the happy one”), who tempted her to borrow from him for his expensive goods; his success at leading her into debt represents her first seduction.  The romantic affairs that will follow, with “The Marquis” and Léon, are an outgrowth of this first fall from innocence.  She craves the romance of luxury and love, hoping to replace the emptiness and disappointment she found in the stifling constriction of Yonville and her confining marriage. She can hardly breathe, and so her restraint and quiet demeanor break open, becoming in the end a frantic rush to destruction.

This film departs markedly from previous films and especially from Flaubert’s novel. Several crucial elements are missing:

  • Berthe, the child of Emma and Charles, does not appear here. There is no mention of her having a child at all. In the novel, this fact serves to underline another area of life in which Emma could find no satisfaction. Flaubert’s Emma was unable to love or bond with her small daughter, a further wound to her marriage, which made her susceptible to falling in love with other men that crossed her path. Emma’s tragic ending is also more poignant because of the daughter she leaves behind.
  • Rodolphe Boulanger is subsumed in the character of the Marquis d’Andervilliers who gives a ball early in the novel. It made more sense in the novel that farming landowner Rodolphe would be speaking (and flirting) with Emma at an agricultural fair.
  • Likewise, the village of Tostes and the town of Yonville are merged. This misses that Charles was sensitive enough to Emma’s unhappiness to move to a larger, albeit still rural, setting for their life together.  However, it is understandable that the screenplay for a two-hour film must make these kinds of abbreviations of plot.
  • In Rouen, Emma and Léon rendezvous in the Cathedral and take a carriage to a room to make love; however, this director chose not to show us one of the novel’s most famous scenes: in which the couple make love in the closed carriage itself, as it circles around the city; Flaubert brilliantly suggests the passionate embraces inside by the sole detail of Emma’s ungloved hand in the window of the jostling carriage.
  • The pharmacist Monsieur Homais’s character and behavior is sketched so roughly that viewers may not understand that he is in competition with the new doctor in town for patients, which motivates his insistence that Charles attempt a risky operation on a local boy. He is friend to neither Charles nor Emma.
  • Finally, this film chooses to have Emma die alone in the forest after she has taken poison, thereby missing some of the most important scenes in the novel, and the only ones that hint at any rapprochement of the couple and a sort of redemption, in the midst of tragedy.  In Flaubert’s treatment, Emma ingests a fatal dose of arsenic but takes several days to succumb, during which time she tries to comfort Charles, realizing perhaps the depth of his essential goodness and true love for her. “You’re good, not like the others,” she says to him.

Since I have listed elements I found missing in this adaptation, let me finish out this review by praising an aspect of the film that I found illuminating and symbolically satisfying. Twice, Emma goes to the local priest in his church in Yonville, hoping for some sort of guidance and comfort–neither of which she finds.  The first time was especially telling: all the while she is trying to talk to him, a group of unruly children are running in the small sanctuary and the priest interrupts her to reprimand them. After he offers a few, insufficient words urging her to be happy with the roof over her head and food (and a good fellow for a husband), he sends her away, excusing himself to “get these very devils ready for Communion.”  Right in front of him was a troubled young woman, being assailed by devils of her own, tempted by the Devil himself (in the form of Lheureux) and her own passions, and he couldn’t see it. She was the one who needed some real communion with grace–a compassionate confessor and some wise words of faith to strengthen her–and this priest had little to give her.  If only she could have encountered a Monsieur Myriel such as appeared in the path of Jean Valjean at exactly the time when he needed him!  In Emma, Flaubert portrayed some of the cracks that were appearing in traditional faith during the 19th century. His villain Homais was an atheist, and it would take more than good will and going through the motions of religion to stand up to the spiritual crisis of the people at that time (or any time!).  Sophie Barthes handles these scenes between the priest and Emma with illuminating clarity for the audience, although Emma is left to plunge into her own darkness without any supports to grasp.

I recommend the film for Mia Wasikowska’s genuine portrayal of Emma and Rhys Ifan’s scary take on Lheureux. He recently played a secretive, but loyal Mycroft Holmes in the Elementary series for TV, but he is truly sinister here. The film is visually beautiful, punctuated by Emma’s stunning costumes, many of them in a fiery orange.

Children’s Book Week Giveaway Hop–And the Winner Is…!

11 May

Children's Book Week Giveaway Hope Banner 2015

I’m happy to announce that Hope C., who blogs at HopeToRead.com, is the winner of two lovely illustrated books, Pinocchio and Nelson Mandela’s Favorite African Folktales.  I see that Hope’s blog features many Book Tours and Giveaways, so do stop by!  Thanks to everyone who entered and participated in this event to celebrate kids and reading (perfect together!).

Children’s Book Week Giveaway Hop–Giving Away Two Illustrated Books!

3 May

Children's Book Week Giveaway Hope Banner 2015For Children’s Book Week, I’m delighted to participate in the Children’s Book Giveaway Blog Hop hosted by Tressa at Wishful Endings.  I’m giving away BRAND NEW paperback copies of two illustrated books I’ve reviewed previously here at The Fictional 100 (each title is linked to my review):

Both books seem to me to be perfect for all ages.  School Library Journal suggests Grades 1 to 5 for Nelson Mandela’s folktales. These books have gorgeous, innovative illustrations enhancing the delightful texts.  I am giving away one gift package containing both books. Follow the instructions on the giveaway link below, which will be open May 4 to May 10 for entrants from the US or Canada.

Entry-Form

I will notify the winner by email on May 11th. Please respond within 48 hours, if possible, so that I can send you your books! Thanks for entering and supporting Children’s Book Week! I thank Sharon at Faith Hope & Cherrytea for letting me know about the Giveaway Hop.

Please CLICK the blue linky button to visit the other participating blogs offering more great giveaways, and have fun sharing books with children!

My First Dewey Readathon + Spring Into Horror! = Lots of Reading!

24 Apr

Beautiful Dewey’s Readathon button, created by Michelle of The True Book Addict, who always finds terrific pictures of women reading!

In celebration of the good side of peer pressure, I’ve just signed up for my first Dewey’s Readathon! I will be doing this in tandem with Michelle’s Spring Into Horror Read-a-thon, which is already underway this week and ending Sunday night (in the US).

Spring into Horror Read-a-thon

This is also created by Michelle, for her blog Seasons of Reading, where she hosts her seasonal Read-a-thons.

I have already described my Read-a-thon reading list, which includes Dan Simmons’ new take on Sherlock Holmes, The Fifth Heart, as well as the original stories of the Brothers Grimm.  I will probably add some Outlander, specifically Book 2, Dragonfly in Amber, and I know I’ll be taking a break in the evening to watch the next installment of the “Outlander” series on STARZ! :)  I’m looking forward to visiting blogs and checking in with folks all day on Twitter (@Fictional100)!

Spring Into Horror Read-a-thon 2015: What I’m Reading

15 Apr

Spring into Horror Read-a-thon

Time for daffodils, tulips, and scary reading!  My selections for this year’s Spring Into Horror Read-a-thon are not primarily horror, but they do have their scary or mysterious elements. I am happy that Michelle makes her Seasons of Reading event flexible enough to welcome those who wish to read only around the edges of the horror genre. For this one, I’ve selected some books that may scare the wits out of me yet! We’ll see.

Today is April 15; not only is that tax filing day in the U.S., but it is also the birthday of novelist Henry James (he would be 172).  The Fifth Heart, Dan Simmon’s new literary mystery (just released in March), finds Henry James teaming up with Sherlock Holmes to investigate the death of Clover Adams, the wife of writer Henry Adams. Their pairing is complicated by the existential crisis of Holmes who has deduced that he is a fictional character!

Fifth Heart cover

Another Dan Simmons novel, Drood, has been on my mental list for a while, since it combines biographical fiction about Charles Dickens with speculation about the intended ending of his last novel, The Mystery of Edwin Drood, whose horrible aspects are magnified by the lack of resolution.  This week I will continue reading A Tale of Two Cities, our Dickens selection for the TuesBookTalk Read-a-Longs group at Goodreads.  Although it certainly has much sweetness in the relationship between Doctor Manette and his daughter Lucie, the Reign of Terror, which readers know will follow the French Revolution and endanger noble-hearted nobleman Charles Darney, casts an eerie shadow over the whole story.

Finally, I am reading The Original Folk & Fairy Tales of the Brothers Grimm: The Complete First Editiion, translated and edited by noted fairy-tale specialist Jack Zipes.  This illustrated collection brings together English translations of all the stories from the Grimms’ 1812 and 1815 first editions.  Zipes emphasizes that these versions are closer to the originals that the brothers recorded from traditional storytellers. They tend to be shorter, more clipped in style, and faithful to the scarier aspects of many of the tales. The illustrations by Andrea Dezsö are interesting: they are black-and-white and give the impression of being simple woodcuts (or paper cutouts), but their content and arrangement of elements looks impressionistic and modern. They are also reminiscent of Arthur Rackham’s silhouette illustration technique, such as he used for Cinderella, or “Aschenputtel” in the Grimms’ tales.

Original Brothers Grimm cover

Sign-ups for the Read-a-thon continue all week, until Friday (see Guidelines), and you don’t have to have a blog. You can join from Facebook, Goodreads, or Twitter!  Look for discussion with hashtag #SpringHorrorRAT to find out what everyone is reading and to join the scheduled chat.  Only one scary or mysterious book needs to be on your reading menu for the week; whatever else you are reading is fine too.

Review + Giveaway: “The Rocheforts” by Christian Laborie

7 Apr

Rocheforts banner

My Review

I found The Rocheforts to be an enthralling family saga, one which kept me intensely engaged from its dramatic Prologue, set in 1898, to its Epilogue, thirty-two years later.  Although this is Christian Laborie’s first novel to appear in English, I was not surprised to learn that he is an accomplished author of many other novels, a total of 16 books to date, two of which have won prizes for regional fiction related to the area he has made his home, the Cévennes, a mountainous region in the southeast corner of the Massif Central.  It must have a special attraction for authors: Robert Louis Stevenson traveled there in 1878 and then published a famous memoir about his trip, Travels with a Donkey in the CévennesMuch of The Rocheforts takes place in Tornac (near Anduze, we are told) in the Gard department, within sight of the Cévennes mountains. This is the home of the Rouvières, a family of prosperous farmers who raise sheep and maintain vineyards on their fertile land holdings. The other main locus of the action is Nîmes, capital of Gard and a major city in the Languedoc-Rousillon region, noted for its Roman ruins and long history and, in this novel, for its wonderful sturdy cloth, the “serge de Nîmes” commonly called denim. Anselme Rochefort and his family has long maintained a thriving textile business in the region, first, in silk made from their own silkworms fed on mulberry trees they grew themselves, and then, thanks to the shrewd management of Anselme’s father, who moved the factories to Nîmes, in denim which they sold to Levi Strauss in America. The Rocheforts live in the city but often spend time at their country home, Clos du Tournel, which made them neighbors of the Rouvières.

It soon becomes clear that this book is really the saga of two families, whose lives become so entangled that their histories cannot be told separately. However, I believe it would be most helpful to readers for me to introduce the members of each family, who are the chief characters of the novel.  It is to Laborie’s credit as a writer and an observer of people that he makes each family member distinctly memorable.

The Rocheforts:

  • Anselme–Shrewd and unswerving in his calculations, whether to advance his business interests or dominate his family, Anselme is a formidable patriarch. He inherits much wealth, adds to it by two advantageous marriages, and wishes to hold absolute sway over his children especially. Events flow from this determination of his to control, even when that control is thwarted–at great cost to those closest to him.
  • Eleanor–Anselme’s first wife and mother of his eldest daughter, Catherine. Already suffering from depression when she wed, Eleanor’s life proved to be as short as it was unhappy.
  • Elisabeth–Anselme’s second wife, who raised Catherine as her own and had two more daughters and two sons with him. She showed herself a capable mother and loyal wife, despite Anselme’s often cold and dismissive disposition; devoutly religious, she was sincerely involved in many charitable activities, befitting the role of a society wife.  Aware of her high social station, she was slow to form close bonds with the Rouvières, but she was not as implacable as her husband, and grew to value and respect them.
  • Catherine–The Rocheforts’ oldest daughter is the focus of family secrets. When we meet the family, they are already in mourning for her at her funeral.
  • Elodie–Being deeply attached to her older sister, Elodie suffers from persistent grief over Catherine’s death and suspicion about its circumstances. Her health declines but readers should not count her out of the drama because of her frailty.
  • Jean-Christophe–The “good son” who apparently follows his father’s wishes, Jean Christophe shares his father’s harsh political views, and agrees to devote his life to the family business. Unfortunately, he has too little of his father’s keen judgment and too much disregard for the consequences of his actions.  The extent of his double-dealing and immorality will surprise even his father, and point the family toward disaster.
  • Sebastien–The rebellious son, Sebastien is the one who feels as though he landed in the wrong family. He has no taste for wealth or luxury, develops early concern for the plight of workers, and wishes for nothing but the independence to conduct his own life without interference from his father. His childhood and youth are a constant tug-of-war with Anselme.  An idealist in many ways, he nevertheless manifests a thoughtless streak that ends up hurting others.
  • Faustine–The pampered youngest child, Faustine is perhaps the only Rochefort child who is warmly loved, and willingly indulged, by Anselme.  She is beautiful, confident, intelligent, and the least troubled of her siblings. Yet this will not protect her from hurtling toward terrible heartache.

The Rouvières:

  • Donatien–The Rouvière patriarch is a loving family man, father of three daughters and one adopted son. He wisely manages and tirelessly works his extensive farms, called La Fenouillère, and his honest dealings have made him respected in the region.  He is on good terms with his neighbors including the powerful Rocheforts, a position which allows him to incur privileges, such as summer pasturing of his sheep on Rochefort land in Lozère. In turn, he harvests the grapes from the Rochefort vineyards and is able to keep (and sell) half their yield. But despite his obvious success, social disparity is enough to put him at a disadvantage when Anselme Rochefort wishes to contract a marriage between his oldest son Jean-Christophe and Donatien’s eldest daughter, Louise.
  • Constance–Donatien married for love, and his wife Constance is a partner in their family and even in some of the farm labor, such as the grape harvest, where the whole family must pitch in.  She is warmly understanding and solicitous of her children, but finds herself somewhat intimidated at first by the closer connections established with the wealthier Rouvières.
  • Louise–The Rouvières’ eldest daughter accepts an arranged marriage with Jean-Christophe Rochefort very early in the book.  She brings to the marriage an impressive dowry, the groves of mulberry trees which Anselme covets to feed his silkworms. Louise and Jean-Christophe have a large family of their own, and she becomes an influential figure in the story for both her siblings and her in-laws.
  • Julie–The second Rouvière daughter has a bad case of middle-child syndrome, since she feels ignored and uncomfortable with the expectations placed on her. She will also become entangled with one of the Rochefort men.
  • Aline–Youngest daughter Aline is bright and wishes to be a teacher. Her ready admiration for her adopted brother Vincent becomes unrequited love as they grow older.
  • Vincent–Vincent Janvier spends his early childhood years at the Sisters of Charity orphanage in Nîmes, until he is adopted by Donatien and Constance Rouvière. He quickly loves all the duties of farm life and forms strong bonds with his new family. The Rocheforts are slower to acknowledge his status as Donatien’s fully fledged son and sometimes fail to recognize his importance, with the significant exception of young Faustine. She and Vincent fall in love “at first sight” as children, and their forbidden romance is pivotal throughout the novel.

These families will experience the repercussions of World War I, the Russian Revolution, and the post-war period up through the financial crash of 1929.  We see the changing fortunes of the Rocheforts’ textile company, the effects of shifting markets and supplier competition in the denim industry, and the crisis of an aging industrial magnate trying to pass on his business and ensure his family legacy. The threats of family disunity and financial disintegration are never far away, and in this respect, the novel belongs to a class of novels exemplified by Thomas Mann’s Buddenbrooks (1901), the story of a north German family’s decline over four generations.  Younger generations who succeed a great founder of a business empire tend to have different talents and different aspirations, and they are adversely affected morally by the very wealth their illustrious forebear has created for them.  Critic Ian Sansom called this the “Buddenbrooks effect” in his last piece for The Guardian in 2011.  It is equally the “Rochefort effect” in Christian Laborie’s compelling portrait of two French families at the beginning of the twentieth century.

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Rocheforts cover

Author Christian Laborie

on Tour

April 6-15, 2015

with

The Rocheforts

(fiction / saga)

Release date: May 5, 2015 at Open Road Integrated Media

484 pages

ISBN: 978-1-4804-6120-8

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SYNOPSIS

Two very different families are bonded by scandal in this sweeping story of love, greed, and betrayal.
Anselme Rochefort has built an empire manufacturing serge de Nîmes, or denim. His biggest client? Levi Strauss. As the craze for blue jeans begins to sweep the globe, Rochefort Industries seems poised for untold success. But Anselme can be as cruel and ruthless with his family as he is in business.

The Rocheforts’ neighbor Donatien Rouvière has one of the region’s most prosperous farms and is desperate for a son to carry on his legacy. After the births of three daughters, the Rouvières adopt an orphan from the Sisters of Charity convent and raise him as their own.

When Anselme suggests uniting the two families by arranging for their children to marry, it seems like the perfect match. But as the lives of the two clans grow increasingly intertwined, dark secrets come to light, including the mysterious circumstances of the death of Anselme’s eldest daughter.

With The Rocheforts, Christian Laborie weaves a captivating tale of deceit, intrigue, and the dynamic tension between industrialization and a way of life rooted in the land. [provided by the publisher]

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Rocheforts - LaborieABOUT THE AUTHOR

Christian Laborie was born in the North of France, but has lived in the southern region of Cévennes for more than twenty years.

The Rocheforts is his first novel to be published in English.

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Buy the bookAmazon

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You can enter the global giveaway here
or on any other book blogs participating in this tour.
Be sure to follow each participant on Twitter/Facebook;
they are listed in the entry form below
.

Entry-Form

Visit each blogger on the tour:
tweeting about the giveaway everyday
of the Tour will give you 5 extra entries each time!
[just follow the directions on the entry-form]

Global giveaway open internationally:
5 winners will receive 1 digital copy of The Rocheforts

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CLICK ON THE BANNER

TO READ OTHER REVIEWS AND AN EXCERPT

Rocheforts banner

*Note*: I received an electronic copy of this book, in exchange for an honest review.  I did not receive any other compensation, and the views expressed in my review are my own opinions. 

Related links:

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My Guest Post at Mom’s Small Victories

27 Mar

I offer my warmest thanks to Tanya M. for inviting me to Be Her Guest this week at her delightful blog, Mom’s Small Victories, where she posts positive blogging tips, reviews, recipes, reading events, and great ideas for living abundantly, despite chronic pain. She likes to team up with other bloggers and make her blog a meeting place for regular linkups, such as the Small Victories Sunday Linkup, perfect for finding something fun and helpful to read all week.

For my guest post, I wrote about 6 Ways That Social Media Stretch My Soul.  Please head on over and leave a comment about your own relationship (totally on board? love/hate? sometimes skittish?) with social media.   Thanks.

6 ways social media stretch my soul by Lucy from Fictional 100

Joan's Rome

by EWTN's Rome Bureau Chief Joan Lewis

The book trail

Words leave imprints in your mind like footprints in the sand

Life in Slow Motion

A step-by-step journey through life, faith, and chronic pain

Shelf Love

live mines and duds: the reading life

The Fictional 100

Some of my best friends are fictional...

The Evolving Critic

art/architecture/culture/fashion

Faith Hope & Cherrytea

inspiring and inspiriting ...

Wesleyan Leadership

Faith working through love

Karleen Koen — writing life

musings of a woman, writer, and wayfarer

A Brave Heart

All for the love of history....

Words And Peace

book reviews and good books for you to read

Rocks By Emmanuelle

Website on my Hand-Painted Rocks, and Blog on my Readings, among other things

Unshelfish

"Books are like imprisoned souls till someone takes them down from a shelf and frees them." ~Samuel Butler

Alysha Kaye

A writer trying to teach becomes a teacher trying to write

Tales From the Landing Book Shelves

Stories, Poems, Arts and Culture: The TBR Pile

Darwin on the rocks and around the world

Photography and travel blog

Word by Word

Books I've enjoyed, Journeys I've loved, Places that inspire

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