“It was where the small wood ended and they came out again into sunshine and an expanse of open meadow that it was decreed they should stop for lunch. This was always serious business for French people, even when they were on a mountainside with a flock of sheep. There was wine, a flat rye loaf and the inevitable cheese and sausage, wrapped in damp tea towels to keep them cool. Catherine added her own petits pains and a bag of early-season cherries to the spread. Madame Mériel crowned the shared feast by producing a homemade pie. The tourte cévenol was the local equivalent of a Cornish pasty, food to be carried into the fields. The stout shell of pastry encased a filling of potatoes and onions, flavoured with herbs and melting with soured cream. Both Frenchwomen had brought cutlery and tin camping mugs; the corkscrew had not been forgotten.” ~from Tapestry of Love, by Rosy Thornton
In a small corner of my soul lies the whispered dream of living in a tiny country cottage, surrounded by green hills and a babbling brook, with simple and true folk for neighbors. An almost enchanted place where I could walk, read, write, and play music to my heart’s content.
A dream indeed.
But one that has come true for Catherine Parkstone in Tapestry of Love, a delightful new novel by Rosy Thornton. Catherine has traded her empty nest in England for a cottage in the Cevannes mountains, a place she remembers fondly from vacations as a child. She quickly establishes herself as a “needlewoman” gifted in the design of “home furnishings and tapestries,” and makes friends with an assortment of likeable neighbors in the small village of La Grelaudiere. Rather more than friends, in fact, with the mysterious and handsome Patrick Castagnol, who plys her with food, wine, and intriguing conversation.
Of course there are some rough patches on this cobblestone road, for life (and good novels) are never complete without them. (Like when Catherine’s younger sister Bryony shows up for a visit and steps squarely in the midst of the budding relationship between Catherine and Patrick!) But Catherine navigates them with grace and aplomb, and comes out wiser and stronger on the other side.
The thing I loved about this novel (and Rosy Thornton’s other two novels as well) is the way she can take an everyday sort of life and expand it into a wonderful, meaningful story. After all, Catherine isn’t all that different from me, really – she has grown children she misses, an ailing mum she worries about, an avocation turning into a career. Yet in Thornton’s hands, Catherine’s story becomes compelling and thought provoking. I think it’s Thornton’s intimate writing style, the perfect amount of attention to the small detail, and her deft characterizations that make her novels such a joy to read.
Tapestry of Love weaves a charming portrait of a woman’s life, of a place she choose to live and comes to love, and of the relationships which make her days meaningful.
by Rosy Thornton
published in 2010, by Headline Publishing Group, a division of Hatchette Company