The Lavender House by Hilary Boyd
Quercus HB, £16.99
Reviewed by Maggie Swinburne
Oh dear, don’t you hate it when you are making salad for supper and your husband walks into the kitchen and tells you he is leaving you for someone 20 years your junior. And your hands are all covered in olive oil so even if you were not as genteel as our Nancy, you couldn’t even get a good hold of the carving knife…
Jump forward in time and now poor Nancy is a prey to her ageing mother and demanding adult offspring, one of whom has opened a restaurant. Who will save her from this awful down trodden life? Step forward guitar playing, sometimes smoking, country singing Jim.
Mmm, nice! But do not for a minute think that this country music ballad is going to work out in simple time. There are undercurrents, and rocks and eddies in the course of true love and Nancy really has to sing for her supper to get the Happy Ever After she so well deserves.
And what of the Lavender House, tantalisingly out of reach until the later chapters of the novel? An idyllic setting, the perfect stage for a mature love affair? I would live there myself, if free. Everything about it, from the location in the hills above Apt, (I wonder where that is) with a view from the terrace of lavender fields, olive groves and the mountains in the distance, just shouts out A Good Year, starring Russell Crowe…
Phew, Hilary Boyd in her inimitable fashion has told the story yet again of mature love which, like an excellent vintage wine, is just waiting to burst out of its barrels, freed from the constraint of convention and the inevitable signs of ageing. Nancy, contemplating the flowering of passion in the most romantic of all locations, is very grateful for the benefits of dimmed lighting in a foreign gite, and yet again, the reader can feel liberated and hopeful with this optimistic and gentle novel.
A great read!
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