The French Promise by Fiona McIntosh
|The French Promise by Fiona McIntosh|
|Category: Women's Fiction|
|Reviewer: Ani Johnson|
|Summary: This sequel to The Lavender Keeper moves on from the war but not its effects. The good news is that it's just as panoramic, romantic, adventurous and poignant as its predecessor. (Also tissues will again be required!)|
|Buy? Yes||Borrow? Yes|
|Pages: 350||Date: March 2014|
|Publisher: Allison & Busby|
|External links: Author's website|
A few years on from The Lavender Keeper Luc the former resistance fighter and Lisette the former British spy have survived the ravages of war and start a new life together in England with their little boy Harry. However Luc can't settle, missing the lavender farming that's in his blood. This is remedied when the freshly transplanted family move again, this time to Tasmania. Nonetheless they still have a lot to learn; the biggest lessons being that no one can outrun the past and that fate isn't always kind.
We're back with Luc and Lisette again but before Fiona McIntosh allows us to spend time with the family post-war, she takes us back (via a prologue) to the era of The Lavender Keeper to witness what happens to Luc's adopted family. Those of us who read the first book (and you do need to read it first) witnessed them being taken and now, through the eyes of Luc's sister Rachael, we see what follows. Believe me, if you tend to skip prologues, you won't want to miss this one.
Before I start raving about all the good stuff (i.e. most of the novel), I must explain as to why the 4½* rating and not 5. It's down to a fleeting phenomenon that vanishes after the first 70 or so pages, but it exists. It's the stilted way in which Fiona recaps in this part of the novel. Once we get past this patch, the reminders of the past are seamlessly sown so please don’t let this put you off or you'll miss the magic.
Fiona not only reacquaints us with Luc and Lisette but we also meet a couple of new friends. There's Max Vogel, to name but one: a wealthy young Swiss German university student who learns a secret from his dying mother. While in England, a woman named Jane discovers the war has left its mark on her husband's psyche.
Having trouble trying work out how they'll link in to Luc and Lisette's life? You'll have to trust me and witness Fiona's beautiful dovetailing. Oh and remember little 5 year old Robert whose family cared for Luc when he was on the run? He's back but now a young man leading a tragic life. (Yes there will be many tears shed before the last page!)
As before Fiona gives us a veritable variety pack of genres. There's romance, thriller and even a mini-social-study of the post-war hangovers both in Europe and further afield as we follow our heroes across the world. Alongside Luc and Lisette we witness plans being hatched as well as the next generation.
Fiona even has time to play with our expectations as a particular set piece is heavily signposted while providing us with no indication as to which way it will go until it's finally played out.
It may be a thick book but the author's changes in pace and direction sweep us towards a riveting climax through a story landscape that banishes boredom. You may not have guessed, but I've become a Fiona McIntosh fan (yes, really!) and can't wait to see what she brings to us next. Rumours are that it's a historical timeslip and it's coming very soon.
Thank you Allison & Busby for providing us with a copy for review!
Further Reading: It goes without saying that we recommend The Lavender Keeper so I won't say it. If this does appeal then you may also enjoy the wonderful The Soldier's Story by Bryan Forbes, again looking at what was left when the war finished.
You can read more book reviews or buy The French Promise by Fiona McIntosh at Amazon.co.uk
You can read more book reviews or buy The French Promise by Fiona McIntosh at Amazon.com.
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