Thursday, August 11, 2016

The August Books Inc. Tuesday Night Book Club Selection Is A Good One

I enjoyed Amour Provence, by Constance Leisure.  The novel takes place in a small, wine-growing village in Provence.  It starts in 1978 and goes until, I think, now. That was the only thing about the book that I didn't like.  The 1st 3 chapters gave us dates so we knew how many years had passed from one chapter to the next.  The last 6 chapters didn't do that.  I say either have all of them with dates or none.  Constance didn't consult me.  Her bad.  But I quibble.  That's a fairly small criticism; more of an annoyance than a rating dropper.

There really is no plot to speak of.  For most of the book, each chapter introduces us to one or more characters.  I enjoy that in a book.  From the middle on, there is some crossover. And, finally, we get a modified version of Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet and Love Me Two Times kind of ending.  I'm okay with that, as long as it makes sense and isn't forced.  Constance does it well.

Even though the book mostly takes place in one village, we get a real sense of the hierarchy that existed (exists?) in that region of the world.  We learn that Arabs, especially those that came from the Maghreb (Northern Africa, West of Egypt), and from Algeria, in particular. are treated as 2nd class citizens.  The historical reason for that is because France controlled Algeria until the Algerians fought and won their independence in 1962. That meant that a lot of French living in Algeria ended up losing their land and businesses when they were expelled.  But besides the Arabs, even the French that do not come from, or belong to, a wine-growing family are treated differently.  This was evident even among the friends of Didi, who is one of the main protagonists.

Even though the book doesn't begin until 1978, we still get some WWII history about the German occupation of France through the story of Euphemie, one of the older characters (duh!).  I like the way Constance interjects Euphemie's story, in the same way that Jodi Picoult did it in The Storyteller.  Having been a history major in college (that did me a lot of good in the working world!), I really enjoy learning history through novels.  That's one of the reasons why I liked Ruta Sepetys' books so much.  It's a painless way to learn.

And since I haven't said this yet, Amour Provence is a VERY well written book.  I sometimes have trouble with books that have long paragraphs and that are pretty descriptive.  And there may have been a few moments where I had to tell myself to focus. But I can't dispute the fact that I actually enjoyed Constance's writing.  Maybe there's still hope for me!

ONE PERSONAL (and slightly inappropriate) STORY:  Although I probably shouldn't tell you this, I'm going to anyway.  Late in the book, one of the main characters is in a forest, surrounded by poplars.  Okay, so back in 1992, my father passed away.  Joni and I were at the mortuary with our BFFs Alan and Lanie.  The mortician, who was very pretty, was telling us what our coffin wood choices were.  She leaned forward, and with very pouty lips (I swear this is true), she puffed out "Pine or poplar?"  If you don't believe me, you can ask any of my 3 companions that were there that day.  And if you knew my father, you would know that he would have been pleased!


  1. There was definitely a class difference, particularly with immigrants when we lived in France. This sounds interesting.

    1. I think it would be interesting to see a blog post from you about your background. It seems to be quite varied. Have you already done that?