Brokenhearted and still mourning the loss of her husband, Heidi travels with Abbott, her obsessive-compulsive seven-year-old son, and Charlotte, her jaded sixteen-year-old niece, to the small village of Puyloubier in the south of France, where a crumbling stone house may be responsible for mending hearts since before World War II.
There, Charlotte confesses a shocking secret, and Heidi learns the truth about her mother’s “lost summer” when Heidi was a child. As three generations collide with one another, with the neighbor who seems to know all of their family skeletons, and with an enigmatic Frenchman, Heidi, Charlotte, and Abbot journey through love, loss, and healing amid the vineyards, warm winds and delicious food of Provence. Can the magic of the house heal Heidi’s heart, too?
Do you believe the premise of this story that a place can help heal a person’s head and heart? We believed it in Under the Tuscan Sun, and Eat, Pray, Love, and one I recently reviewed, The Tapestry of Love. It’s probably easier to buy the theory if it’s a beautiful place like Tuscany or Cévennes or, in this case, Provence.
Actually, I’ve seen people heal in places around my own country. My mother is a good example. My dad died one month short of their fiftieth wedding anniversary. I was living in the midwest and she decided, at the age of seventy, to drive herself from southern California back to my place – yes, by herself. We visited Amish country and various quilt shows and shops. Being in a new environment helped her heart to heal. It gave her a new determination to go on living. She thoroughly enjoyed herself for the next twenty years.
So, yes, I do believe in the power of a place to work it’s magic. In The Provence Cure for the Brokenhearted, it worked on Heidi. I felt so sorry for her as she truly lost a wonderful man when her husband died. She was nearly dysfunctional; she couldn’t remember simple things and had no energy for her beloved pastry work. She managed to do a good job with her little boy but he was desperately trying to help her. They both needed help.
When the two of them were able to get away, along with Charlotte, it was the beginning of their healing process. When the threesome got to Provence, that’s when the book became fun, at least for me. I thought it took the author a long time to lay out Heidi and Abbott’s pain and dysfunction – over a hundred pages. I guess I was anxious to get to Provence. But once there, the descriptions of the landscape and the food were good. More importantly, it was a beautiful description of how Heidi, Abbott, and Charlotte were able to turn their hearts around.
This book will appeal to readers who like the heal-while-traveling genre. I’d also call it a love story. It was beautifully written as well. Bridget Asher is the pen name for Julianna Baggott. As Bridget Asher she has written The Pretend Wife and My Husband’s Sweetheart. For more information about this fine author, visit her website here: Juliana Baggott
The publisher, Bantam Books/Random House, is offering an extra copy to one of my readers (US only). Indicate your interest in the comment section. I’ll announce a winner on April 22.