|In the Shade of the Almond Trees
Today I am taking part in a virtual book tour for In the Shade of the Almond Trees: A Novel by Dominique Marny via France Book Tours.
In the aftermath of World War I, a family estate hangs in the balance. For generations, the Barthelemy family tended to the olive trees of Restanques, a sprawling property in Cotignac whose olive oil and almonds were as incredible as the countryside that produced them. But all that changed when war came to France. Robert Barthelemy never returned from the trenches, and without him, the farm is beginning to die. His widow has lost the will to live, and only the fierce efforts of their daughter, Jeanne, have kept the creditors at bay. Jeanne is spending an afternoon at home with the family's grim financial statements when a handsome stranger appears on the front steps. His name is Jerome Guillaumin and he is a brilliant botanist about to embark on a journey around the globe. From the moment they meet, Jeanne is struck by feelings she never thought possible: feelings that could save her life or destroy everything she has ever known.
This novel is set in the years directly after the First World War and as well as beautiful descriptions of it’s Provencal setting and the olive and almond tree orchards, that conjured up perfect pictures in my mind, there was lots of historical interest added in as well. From the seedy back street life in the docks of Marseille to the perceived ‘comfortable’ life of the wealthy land owners, albeit those who were struggling to survive in difficult times, to the lives and background stories of their workers, the olive and almond pickers, the farm hands and the serving staff. We are shown a snippet of the real Provence of the period and this all added to the story for me, making it a very enjoyable read.
I really warmed to the character of Jeanne, a strong and independent woman who despite her young age takes on the task of running the family estate, pretty much alone. A young lady in her position should have been concentrating on finding herself a husband and starting a family, however she has a lot of responsibility resting on her shoulders and is unable to give in to her passions, unlike her mother and her brother.
Throughout the novel, a varied cast of characters comes and goes, but not all the visitors arriving at their door are genuine, some are only out to make the most of their situation, but can Jeanne know who can be trusted? Is her love for her family estate and her ideas for it’s future enough to keep it going? I for one had my fingers crossed for her from quite early on.
This would be an ideal book for readers who enjoy historical fiction set in France.
About the author
Dominique Marny was raised in a family that loved art, literature, adventure, and travel. In addition to being a novelist, she is a playwright and screenwriter, and writes for various magazines. Follow Open Road Integrated Media on Facebook | Twitter Subscribe to Open Road Newsletter
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In the Shade of the Almond Trees: A Novel is available in paperback and ebook format and links to Amazon can be found below.