Author: Rosy Thornton
Release Date: October 14, 2010
Publisher: Headline Book Publishing
Genre: Contemporary Fiction
Rating: 4.5 out of 5
Summary: A rural idyll: that's what Catherine Parkstone is seeking when she sells her house in England and moves to a tiny hamlet in the Cévennes mountains. Divorced and with her children grown, she is free to make a new start, and set up in business as a seamstress. But this is a harsh and lonely place when you're no longer just on holiday, and Catherine finds herself with unexpected battles to fight. French bureaucracy, the mountain weather, the reserve of her neighbours - and most unsettling of all, her own fascination with the intriguing Patrick Castagnol.
The Tapestry of Love is the story of how a woman falls in love with a place and its people: a portrait of landscape, a community and a fragile way of life.
My thoughts: I found reading The Tapestry of Love similar to taking a long, leisurely walk on a beautiful day in a rural, mostly uninhabited area. The journey is calm and peaceful for the most part, although you're occasionally startled by strange sounds or unexpected movements and noises in the brush. But the experience is extremely enjoyable and relaxing, particularly when you come upon a beautiful lake to sit beside while eating your lunch and basking in the warm, serene sun as small birds twitter overhead. The Tapestry of Love is a peaceful story about a woman who leaves the life she knows to risk following her dream of living in the French countryside where she spent idyllic holidays as a child with her family.
Author Rosy Thornton's writing is thoughtful and draws us in, keeping the story flowing at a leisurely, steady pace. Then main character is the admirable and interesting Catherine, a middle-aged English woman, seven years divorced with her daughter, Lexie and her son, Tom, grown and out on their own. She is a strong, resourceful woman who transforms her life in a way many of us can admire, perhaps even envy. But along the way, Catherine realistically questions her decision to move to the French countryside alone and start a new business. She knows no one and her plan wasn't well-thought out and researched. She acted more on a whim.
Ms. Thornton doesn't allow the story to stagnate. She includes captivating, occasionally irritating, characters in Catherine's life, such as her bubbly, warm, daughter, Lexie, a journalist, who telephones frequently to complain about whichever bizarre magazine she is writing for at the moment. And her neighbor, Patrick Castagnol, the reserved Frenchman (or so Catherine believes) with a disconcerting habit of suddenly appearing at Catherine's front door but offering little about himself. From the first time they meet, we think there's an attraction between Catherine and Patrick but they are too quiet, reserved and well-mannered to act on their feelings so we cannot be sure...but we can hope and wait anxiously!
As in real life, the most beautiful, serene settings occasionally experience storm clouds gathering on the horizon, threatening to destroy the peace for a little while. The "storm clouds" in The Tapestry of Love are Catherine's younger sister, Bryony, a lawyer in London whom she loves but doesn't feel she really knows well. Bryony is busy, hard-working and quite confident. She dates a lot of different men and wants and expects to be noticed, to command the attention of men and women. Bryony is very intelligent, outspoken and opinionated. She has little of Catherine's thoughtfulness and I don't think she appreciates her older sister. Bryony is also used to getting what she wants like so many people we've all encountered in life. And like those people, Catherine probably shouldn't trust Bryony. By the time the story ends, Catherine will know her and some of her neighbors much better.
As the title suggests, Catherine is a tapestry needlewoman and her love of tapestry is an effective vehicle for seeing into her thoughts throughout the book and getting to know her well. This does not make for an action packed story. However, what this does is make the writing taut in order to keep things interesting, something the author does very well. Additionally, I learned about tapestries, the delicate and difficult work that goes into making them as well as the beautiful silk threads that bring them to life. I also learned about the needlework required to create soft furnishings such as cushions and curtains as well as about bee keeping, sheep migration and other surprising, interesting things. Ms. Thornton even includes some enjoyable levity in the phone calls between Catherine and Lexie in which her daughter regales her with humorous anecdotes about her experiences writing feature articles for magazines such as Air Cargo Monthly and Fondant Magazine!
This is probably not a book for readers who enjoy adventure, murder mysteries or the paranormal. Or men, in general. Not to pigeonhole this as a book just for women because it isn't, but the pace, style and it's "go where it may" wanderings, without any problem-solving focus, means it wouldn't appeal to most men. I believe this book would be most appreciated by women, who, like the main character, are looking for something different. A journey that's out of the way in a place that offers breath-taking vistas and new experiences, that are comforting and peaceful but allow for taking risks, gleaning knowledge you may not get anywhere else. If this description interests you then The Tapestry of Love is a book for you. It's a book I highly recommend.
I received a copy of The Tapestry of Love from Rosy Thornton.
Be sure to visit Rosy Thornton's website.