When I first encountered this book, my mind ran to the assumption that it was going to be a very ‘high brow’ read. Don’t get me wrong, I love intelligent and more serious novels from time to time but I also enjoy just escaping into a trashy romance too, so it just depends on my mood.
But this novel continued to stand out and intrigue me. I loved the cover and thought it was elegant and eye catching, but I also thought the story sounded compelling and smart. By the time I was ready to pick it up, my interest in it was well and truly caught.
The book had been sitting on my bookshelf calling my name for the better part of two months so it was with great anticipation that I cracked it open.
In this haunting novel, a young nurse forms an unlikely connection with the elderly man she cares for, and finds herself confronting the guilt she carries from her past.
Marguerite Demers is twenty-five when she leaves Paris for the sleepy southern village of Saint Sulpice to take up a job as a live-in nurse. Her charge is Jerome Lanvier–once one of the most powerful men in the village, now dying alone in his large and secluded house surrounded by rambling neglected gardens. Manipulative and tyrannical, Jerome has scared away all of his previous caretakers.
It’s not long before the villagers have formed opinions of Marguerite. Brigitte Brochon, pillar of the community and local busybody, finds her arrogant and mysterious and is desperate to find a reason to have her fired. Glamorous outsider Suki Lacourse sees Marguerite as an ally in a sea of small-minded provincialism. Local farmer Henri Brochon, husband of Brigitte, feels sorry for her and wants to protect her from the villagers’ intrusive gossip and speculation (but Henri has a secret of his own that would scandalize his neighbors, if only they knew). The sudden arrival of Jerome’s three sons will upend the rhythm of their days, changing their lives forever.
Set among the lush fields and olive groves of southern France, and written in clear prose of luminous beauty, Marguerite is an unforgettable novel that traces the ways in which guilt can be transformed, and how people can unexpectedly find a sense of redemption. (summary from Goodreads)
While my attention to the larger story was caught early on in this book, it was admittedly a slow start for me. This isn’t the kind of book that I was able to just jump right into and start reading with vigor. It was more of a slower paced read which was ok, but the story itself was very compelling and interesting with a lot of introspection. Though I have to say that I read a couple of other reviews that pointed out that this book was a little on the darker side and I agree, it was a little darker than I was expecting but I thought that’s what made this book all the more compelling because it was darker and a little more intense. It is definitely a worthwhile read.
I love introspection and reflection in novels such as this. I thought it really made the reader pause and consider the characters and their situations. I was very impressed with the writing style of this book, especially considering this was the author’s debut novel! I couldn’t believe that, it was incredibly well written and engaging even if it was slower to start.
The characters and the setting take center stage in this book. I loved the setting in the French countryside. I thought the setting really added to the complex themes of grief and regret as well as secrets. The small village setting was perfect for that.
This novel had a lot to unpack and enjoy. It was a different type of read for me but one that I found myself enjoying page by page and it did make me think and reflect on the characters so I would say that makes it a great read! This one is going to be one you don’t want to miss!