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My name is Ardis and I am an avid reader and budding writer. I want to share my love of books with others. I work with kids and am interested in finding and creating books that will ignite the reader in everyone. Contact me at: ardis.atkins@gmail.com

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Thursday, February 15, 2018

ARC Review: Where The Wild Cherries Grow by Laura Madeleine

Please Note:  I received an advance copy of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.  This did not influence the opinions of my review in any way.  Also, I am in the Amazon Affiliate program.  If you buy this book from the links on this page, I will get a small fee.  This is a great was to show your support of this blog!

Synopsis (From Goodreads):
In 1919, the cold sweep of the Norfolk fens only holds for Emeline Vane memories of her family, all killed in the war. Whispers in the village say she’s lost her mind as well as her family - and in a moment's madness she boards a train to France and runs from it all.

She keeps running until she reaches a tiny fishing village so far from home it might as well be the end of the world. Transfixed by the endless Mediterranean, Emeline is taken in by Maman and her nineteen-year-old son, and there she is offered a glimpse of a life so different to the one she used to know: golden-green olive oil drizzled over roasted tomatoes, mouth-wateringly smoky red spices, and hot, caramel sweetness.

But it's not just the intense, rich flavours that draw her to the village, and soon a forbidden love affair begins. One that is threatened by the whispers from home that blow in on the winds from the mountains . . .


Review:
Historical fiction is one of my favorite genres.  A well written one can transport you to a long ago time and place, making you feel as though you knew how the people lived.  Where The Wild Cherries Grow, by Laura Medeleine, not only accomplishes that, it's lush descriptions will have you racing for a Catalan cookbook in order to eat as wonderfully as the characters do!

What I Liked:
Dual Stories:
I loved the alternating chapters with the dual stories.  In 1919, young Emeline is battling depression and nearly winds up in a Swiss asylum (the standard way of dealing with women back in the day).  Instead, she escapes and discovers a new way to live.  Fifty years later in 1969, William, a young solicitor's clerk, is tasked with trying to find Emeline.  He too learns there is a wider world, as he meets an array of people in his quest to find out what happened to Emeline.

Characters: 
Both Emeline and William start out as characters who are a product of their environments.  After she becomes an orphan after the devastating Spanish Flu epidemic of 1919, Emeline begins to be pressured into complying with the expectations of her uncle.  In other words, shut up and find a husband quickly.  The men in her life don't seem to care that she is still mourning the loss of her mother and two of her brothers.  William has been  set on a path to become a solicitor.  When he is meeting his family's and his employer's needs, everything is fine.  But he begins to question the boring trajectory his life is taking, and suddenly he is an outcast.

Setting:
If I didn't want to go before, I certainly now NEED to travel to the Catalan region of southern France and Spain.  The author weaves such vivid descriptions of the scenery and the food, that I would certainly want to make an extended stay there to discover the region for myself. 
Cerbere, France
But the physical setting alone is not the only attraction.  I adored the sense of community in Cerbere, France that this book portrayed.  The seasons, the festivals and celebrations, and even the weather, played important parts in the life of the village.

I also love the English setting in 1969.  When we first see the stately manor of Hallerton in 1919, it is cold, vast and utterly heartless.  Over the decades the house is abandoned, and when William finds it in 1969, it has nearly been reclaimed by the elements.  But in this process, we see the startling beauty of the British countryside.  William wanders among this bucolic setting and it dawns on him that he doesn't have to live a boring, predictable life.

Food:
What can I say.  The moment I finished this book I ran out and bought a book on Catalan cooking!  The book makes a stark contrast between the overly complicated cuisine of the upper crust British of long ago, and the straight forward approach of Mediterranean cooking, using the best seasonal ingredients.  You can tell which style will result in the healthier life for Emeline!   

I also loved the concept of cooking just the right dish for what the town needed.  Clemence, who takes Emeline in, runs the village cafe.  She takes into account not just the weather when deciding what to cook, but the mood of the people in the town.  This almost reminded me of the book, Like Water For Chocolate, by Laura Esquivel (But this story remains solidly in the realm of realism).

What I Didn't Like:

                   
via GIPHY

This book was perfection.


                                                                  
 Rating: 





Release Date:  February 13th, 2018

Genre:  Historical Fiction

Publisher:  Thomas Dunne Books

Page Length:  336 pages

Source:  NetGalley

Format:  E-Book

Recommendation:  A Literary feast!  You'll want to drink some hearty red wine and eat Catalan food after this. 
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