It’s a real delight today to be joining the blog tour and sharing my review of Summer in Provence by Lucy Coleman, published by Boldwood Books tomorrow (2nd April) for kindle and as an audiobook, and available for pre-order. My thanks to Rachel at Rachel’s Random Resources for the invitation and support (I see she’ll be home again soon, and I’m sure you’ll all join me in wishing her a full and speedy recovery) and to the lovely Boldwood team for my advance reading e-copy.
I suspect I really don’t need to tell you how very much I always love Lucy’s books – every bit as much as I love the ones by her alter ego, Linn B Halton, really! The only complaint I have (and it’s no complaint at all, really) is that she (maybe that should be “they both…”!) writes them considerably faster than I can fit in the reading – the last time I managed one was in September last year when I read and reviewed Magic Under the Mistletoe, which was as wonderful as ever (you’ll find my review here).
So let’s take a closer look at her new one…
Is a change as good as a rest?
When married couple Fern and Aiden have a windfall, their reactions could not be more different. While Fern is content to pay off their mortgage and build a nest egg before starting a family, her husband is set on traveling the world.
Fern’s not much of a back-packer so, before she knows it, the idea of a ‘marriage gap year’ takes shape. And, as Aiden heads off to the wilds of Australia, Fern chooses the more restful Provence for her year out.
Set amidst the glorious French scenery, Château de Vernon offers a retreat from the hustle and bustle of normal life, and Fern agrees to help out in return for painting lessons from the owner – renowned, but rather troubled, painter Nico.
As their year unfolds in very different ways, will the time apart transform their marriage, or will it drive Fern and Aiden even further apart…
Let Lucy Coleman whisk you off on a heart-warming, sun-drenched and magical French adventure.
This book really was the perfect read for these difficult times – and I honestly don’t think Lucy Coleman’s (or Linn B Halton’s!) writing has ever been better. I love escaping into the world inside a book’s pages – in fact, it’s often the form of travel I most enjoy – and my stay at Château de Vernon in Provence was pretty near perfect. As she always does, the author brings the setting vividly to life – the retreat and its beautiful surroundings, the buildings where its guests stay or spend their days, all those activities they take part in as we watch them relax, learn new skills and get to know themselves (and each other) a little better.
The cast of characters is wonderful, every single person interesting and complex, all with histories and previous lives, sometimes bringing with them a few secrets. But at the book’s heart is Fern – unable to travel with her adventurous husband for reasons of her own, she volunteers her services at the château, leading small groups in some of the activities, turning her hand to anything else that might be needed. And it’s also her opportunity to find out if she has what it takes to become an artist – mentored by Nico, taken under his wing, sharing his studio into the early hours as she finds out what she might be capable of.
I loved her character, and I really loved watching her grow and develop – with her love for her family, her understanding of her husband’s need for adventure, her nurturing of others around her, her daily increase in confidence, and the way we sometimes get to see her through others’ eyes. But she’s by no means the only character I took to my heart – the whole story is told with immense warmth, and I felt totally involved in the lives of every single person I met, seeing beneath their surfaces as they find their own paths to resolving their issues and finding what makes them happy.
I really liked the way the story was structured – a year, dipped into, seen through the seasons. And I really enjoyed the activities, from weeding the herb gardens, through the workshops, to the creative endeavours: and I particularly loved the art, every canvas vividly real, something I could see, with the act of its creation totally involving, and sometimes surprisingly moving.
I must also say a word about the book’s unusual ending, which I thought was so perfectly done, particularly when I’d been so immersed in the lives of the characters who’d become my friends – but I’m certainly not about to spoil it for anyone. I will mention too that I always had my own plan for how Fern’s story would work out – and I most certainly wasn’t disappointed in that either.
My thanks to the author – I really feel I’ve been away for a while. I relaxed and thoroughly enjoyed the experience, even if I might now miss the company of the characters. This book was just wonderful – and travelling from the comfort of your armchair might just be something you’d enjoy as very much as I did.
With thanks to Lucy/Linn and Rachel, I’m delighted to offer the chance to win a signed paperback of A Springtime to Remember and a Boldwood Tote bag (open internationally). Here’s the rafflecopter for entry:
Terms and Conditions Worldwide entries welcome. The winner will be selected at random via Rafflecopter from all valid entries and will be notified by Twitter and/or email. If no response is received within 7 days then Rachel’s Random Resources reserves the right to select an alternative winner. Open to all entrants aged 18 or over. Any personal data given as part of the competition entry is used for this purpose only and will not be shared with third parties, with the exception of the winners’ information. This will passed to the giveaway organiser and used only for fulfilment of the prize, after which time Rachel’s Random Resources will delete the data. I am not responsible for despatch or delivery of the prize.
About the author
From interior designer to author, Linn B. Halton – who also writes under the pen name of Lucy Coleman – says ‘it’s been a fantastic journey!’
Linn is the bestselling author of more than a dozen novels – including Summer on the Italian Lakes, Snowflakes over Holly Cove, The French Adventure and A Cottage in the Country. She is represented by Sara Keane of the Keane Kataria Literary Agency.
When she’s not writing, or spending time with the family, she’s either upcycling furniture, working in the garden, or practising Tai Chi. Living in Coed Duon in the Welsh Valleys with her ‘rock’, Lawrence, and gorgeous Bengal cat Ziggy, she is an eternal romantic.
Linn is a member of the Romantic Novelists’ Association and the SoA and writes feel-good, uplifting novels about life, love and relationships.