Sunday, February 6, 2011

The Tapestry of Love by Rosy Thornton

10. The Tapestry of Love
by Rosy Thornton
fiction, 2010
Kindle book - 5
finished, 1/25/11

After the intensity of Dreaming of the Bones, this book was just the ticket. I have read about it quite a few times on various blogs, the latest being Mystica's.

St. Valentine's Day is coming up soon, and it reminds me of how so often when we hear the word 'love' we think romantic love. Yet really, love is all kinds of love: between parents and their children, between siblings, between friends, even between an owner and his animals. There is love for our neighbors or those folks we see often in the Post Office or grocery store. And there can be a love of place, of landscape. They each become a part of our own life's tapestry. That's what A Tapestry of Love is all about. Our heroine moves from Buckinghamshire England to the Cévennes region of France and finds the richness that all the different kinds of love can bring to a life.

A day after I wrote the preceding in my drafts folder, I came upon Erin's Valentine blog entry, and she says much the same thing. Amazing.

I feared this was going to be the kind of book where an older divorced woman moves to a new place to begin a different life and finds romance. I've read a few such books and found them most unsatisfactory and unrealistic. This book did not disappoint me. First of all Catherine Parkstone has been divorced for a number of years. Her children are now grown and out on their own so she decides to try a new kind of life. But there isn't the feeling that she is depressed or desperate. Very early on she notes that she has 'no one to please but herself.'

Catherine moves to an area which her family used to visit when she was a child so it is not entirely new to her, but still it seems daunting to me to think of buying a house where I knew no one. In that sense, I thought her very brave. And she doesn't move in the spring of the year, but in September. Soon the 'rains' will begin which would discourage many people. But not Catherine. She welcomes the weather and the seasons as part of this 'tapestry' of life. When our locale is part of our very being, I think we more fully accept all its facets, including so-called bad weather.

This area she has chosen is not an easy landscape. It is in the Cévennes National Park. There are roads with hairpin turns which she must negotiate as part of her daily life. In time she learns them so well she can drive even in foggy weather.
Her hands on the wheel anticipated every corner, and knew just what angle to take on every bend.

Her house, Les Fenils (which I've seen translated as 'the barns' and 'the haylofts'), was lived in by an older woman who has recently died. In the course of the book we meet a few independent country women who live alone after their husbands die. It feels like Catherine is following in their footsteps, continuing this tradition, though of course she is not a widow and she is still relatively young, being in her late forties. She copes with occasional power outages and other inconveniences with aplomb. She simply lives her life.

An early passage describes her new home and shows the incredible detail in this book:
An hour later, washed in cold water and dressed in jeans and jumper, Catherine was sitting in the sunshine on the stone front doorstep eating bread and strawberry jam. The door behind her was the more imposing of two doors that opened on to the terrace courtyard at the front of Les Fenils. They stood at right angles to each other, one leading into each arm of the long, low, L-shaped house. There was no back door, because the north wall of the house - the back of the longer of the two arms - was solid and windowless, built to fit snugly against the wall of grey-black cévenol granite which rose steeply above it, house and gorge chiselled from the same rock.

From where she sat on the step, Catherine saw the tops of the small orchard which sloped away below the house in front of her and to the right; built in terraced steps, it was shored up on drystone walls and held together by the roots of apple, greengage and Mirabelle, as well as the tenacious old turfs which Monsieur Bouschet had mown for her. Further up into the crease of the hill to her left, beyond the short south wing of the house, stood a cluster of sweet chestnut trees, traditional providers of flour for mountain bread, and at their feet a row of empty beehives. This was the limit of her land, and from her lowly vantage point she could see no further in any direction - except for straight ahead of her, south across the little valley to the ridge of wooded hillside opposite.

Halfway down to St. Julien was another clutch of ruins, what might once have been two or three farmhouses and a scatter of outbuildings - the best part of another hamlet.

The book is full of such descriptions. Every place Catherine goes becomes familiar to the reader. Her walks in the woods, the village, the house she visits. I don't know when I've read a book in which I felt so at home because I could really 'see' where I was. Everyone in this tiny place is kind to her, from the postman to the man who mowed her fields, to the shopkeeper. We get to know them, as we also meet the other people in Catherine's life: her children, her sister, her mother who lives in a nursing home, and even her ex-husband. These people weave in and out of her life, just as she weaves her tapestries from which she hopes to make her living in this new place.

I could go on and on praising this truly wonderful book. It gave me one of the most enjoyable reading times I've ever had. I loved it.

Please do visit the author's website, and her page about this book.

There is an interview with Rosy Thornton at Carol's blog.


  1. This sounds like a lovely book! Will definitely check it out! Thanks for mentioning my blog, by the way :) ♥

  2. Sounds just the thing for a cold, grey February.

  3. Oh dear, I have been debating with myself whether to buy this book, now I see that I really must! It sounds wonderful, I love the cover you get that on Kindle I wonder.
    For Mrs Bale.......we are experiencing gales here in the Cotswolds and I fear for my chimney, yet again!

  4. I think this book has a lovely cover. It's peaceful looking. Glad you enjoyed it so much. And I'm glad that it was not a woman-finds-love-because-she-is-incomplete book. On the contrary. :-)

  5. It is, Erin! And it was so surprising when I read your words after I'd thought the same thing.

    Pamela, maybe February will surprise you with lots of sun!

    Carole, I did read it on my Kindle. Would your chimney fall down? Yikes!

    Kay, peaceful is a good adjective for the book itself. Really a lovely read. (and there is some romance but it doesn't define her story!)

  6. I just got this book the other week from the author and now I can not wait to immerse myself within the story!

  7. I read this one a while ago, but thoroughly enjoyed it. It's perfect for Valentine's Day reading :)

    I loved the pictures in your post as well.

  8. I like the sound of this book Nan and I am happy to say it is in my Library.I look forward to reading it. Thank you for the review.


  9. Oh, how I want to read this book!!! I saw it on another blog and have been thinking of it ever since. We don't carry it in our store :( so I'll have to order it (which is fine, but I'm just surprised it's not in stock). Oh, and as I reading the earlier review, I immediately thought of you. So glad you thought it was a winner!!

  10. I am reading this book at the moment. Really is a fab read.

    Great review, thanks

  11. Aisling, fiction.

    Becca, I was so happy to find these pictures of the Cévennes region.

    Patricia, it is a lovely book.

    Les, I am quite, quite sure this will be one of those which we both like. ;<)

  12. Carol, thanks so much for coming by. I'm glad you are liking it!

  13. Carol, I just visited your blog and added a link to your interview! Again, thanks for coming by.

  14. Honestly, Nan, I'm never going to get anything done around here if you don't stop reviewing these excellent books. You make me want to stop everything, rush out, buy it, and immediately curl up at home for the day! ...hmmmmm

    have a wonderful day

  15. Go for it, Niki! You'll have a great, great reading day.

  16. This book was one of my favourite reads of last year. It was a delight from beginning to end.
    Margaret P

  17. I must have this book --- and here there is a stack 2 feet high of books I want to read... by my old leather chair.
    Starting out on my own 30 years ago, now back on my much loved property and starting over again - seems I can in some way relate.
    Nan, thank you for your wonderful book reviews.

  18. Ernestine, you will love the kind people in this book, and it is such a good story with lovely detail. Really a perfect book!

  19. This sounds like an absolutely divine read. You have piqued my interest in it, Nan, and appreciate your review. Those pictures are stunning.

  20. Life on the cut off, thank you. And it is an amazing landscape, isn't it.

  21. Those pictures are great! I would love to travel to that part of the world. I really enjoyed this book, partly because of the setting. It was so satisfying to read about.

  22. Dorothy, I felt the same way. This area is very appealing.

  23. Your header photo is amazing, especially love the clothes hanger half buried in the snow.

  24. Thank you, Jill! Yeah, I'm not hanging out clothes these days. ;<)

  25. I've got a copy of this sitting on my shelf and I've read nothing bug gushy praise about it. Maybe I should start reading it now. It sounds like an upper.

  26. Bookfool, absolutely an 'upper.' And very well written, with good characters and excellent descriptions. I really loved it.

  27. I felt the same way about this book. I didn't want it to end - it felt so good to be reading it. I like the pictures you used. They are similar to what my imagination supplied.

  28. Margot, I felt pleased to find the pictures of the Cévennes - and the one of the buildings matched the words so perfectly!

  29. A lovely review, Nan. I think this book is going to stay with me for a long time. I've actually given it away (it's off to Texas) but am wondering if I might regret that and want to read it again. Well, I have a new Kindle now (posted about it today along with Spring photos) so it couldn't be easier to purchase another copy on that.

  30. Thank you, Cath for coming by to read it. I'd like to read more by Rosy Thornton.

  31. That is a very nice review, Nan & I agree with it completely. :)

  32. Tiina, thanks so much for coming over to read it. I so loved this book.


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