Review: Where Wild Cherries Grow by Laura Madeleine

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Paperback, 368 pages

Published June 15th 2017 by Black Swan                            ISBN13: 9781784160739

Where the Wild Cherries Grow: A Novel of the South of France

Published February 13th 2018 by Thomas Dunne Books        RATING:  4*

I wasn’t terribly keen on this book from the beginning, but as I stuck with it I became more and more pleased with the writing.   At first the split between the time 1919 and fifty years later to 1969 was a bit aggravating but as I became more immersed in the story I found I had trouble putting this book down.

It wasn’t until I was finished did this line make sense to me “I closed my eyes as I tried to pick apart every flavour, because nothing had ever tasted so good before. It was like tasting for the first time. Like discovering colour . . .”

Emeline Vane came from wealth, from Norfolk, England – she had lost her mother, her brothers and now it was only her, her young brother Timothy and her uncle.  She is haunted by memories of those she lost and suffers bouts of melancholy, so much so that her uncle is taking her to a convalescent home  to recover.   However, during their stop in France, Emeline, having been given drugs to keep her calm regained enough of her mindset that she decided to run away – recklessly boarding a train to run from her uncle and the nurse who was her jailer.

Her journey led her to a tiny seaside village in the South of France. A kindly cafe owner, Maman, takes her in and Emeline discovers a world completely new to her: of oranges, olives and wild herbs, the raw, rich tastes of the land and using your own hands to care for yourself.

Soon a love affair develops with Maman’s son as passionate as the flavours of the village. Fifty years later, a young solicitor on his first case finds Emeline’s diary, and begins to trace a story of betrayal, love and bittersweet secrets that will send him on a journey to discover the truth before greedy relatives steal her inheritance away.

I really liked this story.  The writing was superb and the descriptions of the food and flavors made my mouth water.  So very sweet with a surprise ending I didn’t expect.

Marilyn Rondeau

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Review: Lullaby for My Sister by Nancy Barone

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Talk about dysfunctional family and mystery melding into one thrilling page-turner then you really must pick up LULLABY FOR MY SISTER.  One hears about atrocities like this but in our society, one assumes the bad step-mother would be more like the one  found in Cinderella.

Since the death of their mother Valentina Mancino, age 9,  had been her little sister Lucy’s protector and guardian since her father had taken to drink and left all responsibility on Valentina’s small shoulders.  Fifteen years later Valentina has achieved her goals of a rising career.   Valentina still watches over Lucy, who has issues and no goals in life.

In an attempt to help Lucy become a bit more self-sufficient Valentina hires a carpenter to remodel their childhood home into a profitable multi-family whereby Lucy could live off of the income, or at best sell the property and get a great price due to it’s location.

When the remodeling began, Valentina comes across an old suitcase containing a blood- stained childs dress leading to a trail of secrets that will have the reader pretty much shocked with the twists that come up once the secrets are exposed.

Written in flashback mode one can follow the story and get some idea of the horrors Valentina lived through during her childhood all the while doing her best to protect her little sister.   All in all this was a deeply moving story, with a final twist that I never saw coming.

Marilyn Rondeau