21 July 2011

Book Review: The Provence Cure for the Brokenhearted by Bridget Asher

Title: The Provence Cure for the Brokenhearted
Author: Bridget Asher
Publisher: Allison and Busby
ISBN: 978-0-7490-0993-9
Format: Uncorrected Bound Proof
413 pages
Genre: Fiction
Source: Publisher

The Provence Cure for the Brokenhearted is about a young widow who can't stop grieving until she spends a summer in an old family home in Provence where the house works its legendary magic and she begins to live and love again. It's an enchanting story about life, death, love and family.

Every good love story has another love hiding within it.

Henry died in a car accident two years ago, and now Heidi and her young son, Abbot, are both trying to deal with their grief but they are floundering. Heidi has lost interest in running her business, the Cake Shop, which had been a joint passion and venture with Henry, and Abbot suffers from Obsessive Compulsive Disorder with an extreme phobia about germs, and constant hand-washing.

At her sister's wedding celebrations, Heidi is told by her mother that a fire has damaged the family home in Provence. She wants Heidi and Abbot to go to Provence for the summer and oversee the renovation of the house. And Heidi's sister, Elysius, decides that her teenage step-daughter, Charlotte, should go with them too.

Heidi and Elysius used to spend every summer at the family house in Provence with their French mother but Heidi hasn't been back since she turned thirteen. Now, she's about to return with her eight-year-old son and her sixteen-year-old niece.

The story of what happens in Provence is at the heart of the novel. The old family house has a history of making romantic and unusual things happen. As the story progresses, it's fun to discover how the house in Provence works its magic on Heidi - and Abbot and Charlotte too.

The intense feelings of deep grief and loss are nicely balanced with moments of sheer delight and joy with some very well-drawn scenes involving comical situations that made me laugh out loud. I thoroughly enjoyed the story and I'm grateful to the publisher, Allison & Busby, for sending me a copy.

I felt like I was there in Provence with Heidi, and I loved all the details about the French scenery, the traditions, the food (a few recipes are included at the end of the book) and the people of Provence. It reminded me of the novel, Chocolat by Joanne Harris. It's also similar to Under the Tuscan Sun by Frances Mayes.

The Provence Cure for the Brokenhearted by Bridget Asher (a pseudonymn for bestselling author, Julianna Baggott) is a charming, feel-good story with appealing characters and a lovely French setting. It's a perfect escapist read.

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