About a year and a month ago I had an email from Rosy Thornton asking if I’d like a copy of her book to read, these kinds of offers are – I was going to say always exciting but actually sometimes are slightly baffling (the person who offered a vampire romance aimed at teens clearly didn’t read my blog first and I’m not tempted by self help books from American preachers – although the blond begs me to say yes to those). The chance to get a copy of ‘The Tapestry of Love’ however was flattering; I had already seen good things written about it and thought it might be just the thing for some lazy late summer reading.
I don’t know why I didn’t read it straight away, possibly because it was a hardback and seemed like a big book to carry around (I have a larger handbag now than I did last summer – makes all the difference) but the longer I left it the guiltier I felt, by Christmas it had become a chore to be faced, and in March I wrote a post about feeling guilty over the pile of unread hardbacks that weighed down the shelf (which it seems I opened in exactly the same way as this one which shows I’m consistent I suppose). Finally late summer has arrived again and suddenly ‘A Tapestry of Love’ started to look tempting again.
Now I’ve read ‘A Tapestry of Love’ the guilt has gone (it would have lurked on if I hadn’t liked the book). It is a perfect late summer read. Catherine Parkstone is a likable heroine, in her late 40’s, divorced for 8 years, children grown up, and off to the Cevennes mountains for a new start in the south of France. Part of the romance is the easy way in which she’s accepted into her new community and the way her fledgling business as an upholsterer takes off. Never mind the tall dark and handsome Frenchman across the way who cooks as only a Frenchman can, who hasn’t daydreamed about moving somewhere beautiful to make a living out of something they love? Well I have at any rate and although I didn’t imagine France the basic fantasy is the same.
Catherine’s place in her new community is threatened first by family complications, then by bureaucracy, and finally by that tall dark etc Frenchman. Family appears in the form of a sister who looks likely to be romantic competition, a son as self contained as his mother, and a daughter who won’t settle to a job. There’s also the mother back in England in a home with Alzheimer’s and the ex husband who maybe wants a bigger part in Catherine’s life again.
There were moments when I felt like it was all a bit to idyllic and easy - and then Catherine’s mother dies, there’s nothing sensational about it but the way Thornton handles it is moving and feels real. It’s at points like this that her gift as a writer really comes through. There is a balance that makes the whole thing deeply satisfying, like I said perfect late summer reading.