The Last Estate

Conor Bowman, Author
Conor Bowman, Permanent, $26 (168p) ISBN 978-1-57962-203-9
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This trite romance never finds its footing. In 1920 Provence, Christian Aragon dreams of seeing the world, but more often of his geography teacher, Miss Pleyben, whose abusive husband ran away ahead of the draft during WWI. After the death of his older brother, Christian is expected to leave school and work the family vineyard, but he dreads the hours alone with his abusive father. A lucky escape comes in the form of a class trip to Avignon, where Christian and Miss Pleyben become lovers in a cathedral confessional and begin planning to run away together. But when a priest witnesses the two lovebirds kissing, their plans threaten to come undone. Bowman carefully tends to his protagonist's frustration and yearning, only to abandon it altogether for scenes of passion that read like schoolboy fantasy. Each obstacle heaped on the lovers' struggle only makes their already thinly conceived connection less credible, and a powerfully unfortunate turning point involving Miss Pleyben's returned husband effectively kills any emotional connection the reader may have forged. (Aug.)
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