Amour Provence

Constance Leisure. Simon & Schuster, $16 trade paper (272p) ISBN 978-1-5011-2228-6
In the small farm town of Serret, France, everyone shares a history. No matter how far their respective paths may diverge, the residents of Serret—most of whom have lived there all their lives—are wrapped together by family feuds, torrid affairs, and gossip. Didier and Gilberte are two young friends who learn this the hard way, coming back together after years apart and reckoning with the consequences of their past as they try to carve out a future in a town that never forgets. Debut author Leisure strikes a smart balance between the private and the public, ruminating at length on the ways the two spheres bleed together. Each chapter allows the reader to straddle the public/private line, witnessing an affair that must be kept secret or domestic tension in an immigrant family. But the central narrative is difficult to keep track of as the focus jumps from family to family. The book is structured as a series of stories that illustrate the interconnectedness of Serret, and the plot gets lost in colorful language that, although evocative of place, often obscures characterization and stifles momentum. At times this is a fascinating exploration of rural dynamics—particularly given the class, race, and cultural divisions in the story—but in the end, the novel, much like its characters, falters under the weight of such a picturesque town. (July)
Reviewed on: 05/02/2016
Release date: 07/05/2016
Genre: Fiction
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