Wednesday, September 19, 2018

ARC Review: The Lost Carousel of Provence by Juliet Blackwell

37585026Title: The Lost Carousel of Provence
Series: n/a
Author: Juliet Blackwell
Source/Format: First to Read; eARC
More Details: Historical Fiction
Publisher/Publication Date: Berkley Books; September 18, 2018

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Synopsis from Goodreads...

An artist lost to history, a family abandoned to its secrets, and the woman whose search for meaning unearths it all in a sweeping and expressive story from the New York Times bestselling author of Letters from Paris...

Present day, San Francisco. During her free time, professional photographer Cady Drake shoots local carousels, a hobby inspired by a gift that transformed her childhood: a wooden rabbit supposedly created by master French carver Gustave Bayol a century ago. And when she's offered a freelance assignment for a book on the antique merry-go-rounds of Paris, Cady can't refuse the opportunity to visit the famous carousels for the first time....

1900s, France. In a small town outside of Avignon, a husband and young wife struggle to keep up their ancestral chateau--and start the family they so desperately desire. For the children they hope to have, the Clements hire the famous Bayol to build a carousel, but as the carver and his apprentice work on the beautiful and whimsical creation, fate will entwine them all in unseen ways--for generations to come...

Present day, Provence. As Cady's research leads her to the dilapidated Chateau Clement and its fabled carousel that was lost to the ravages of World War II, she will uncover a shocking truth in a set of one-hundred-year-old photographs that could guide her in reuniting a family torn apart by petty jealousies over several generations.
In 2016, I read a book called Letters from Paris. Before then, I was unfamiliar with books by Juliet Blackwell. I loved Letters from Paris and was ecstatic to see that Blackwell was writing another book with dual storylines, and that it was also set in France. And, oh man, The Lost Carousel of Provence was as good as I was hoping it would be. It was a compelling story about found family, loss, tragedy, love, and second chances spanning across more than a hundred years from past to present.

Blackwell has a way with words. Right from the start, the writing was descriptive with the settings being rife with vividly described scenery. There were other little things too, details about everything from daily life to even the carousels the character, Cady, loved so much. Carousels were a big part of the story, and I liked the fact that the author included so much detailed information about them including how they were constructed—from concept to completion—with mention of work by Bayol and other notable carousels in France.

While the present storyline was good, I also liked the historical aspects of The Lost Carousel of Provence. Blackwell did a good job of setting the tone for these parts with a mix of fiction and historical fact. A loose image of the time period before, during, and after World War 2 in France was presented with the focus on people from one family. The dual storylines featured more than two perspectives, particularly the ones that took place in 1900 and around the 1940s. That being said, there was never a moment where the characters got muddled. The narrators were unique, their stories varied, and I loved how it all eventually connected in the present without being too or immediately obvious how everything was related. And the build up to the reveals and the ending was one of my favorite things about the story.

As I mentioned above, the characters were pretty unique. One of my favorites was Cady. She was a little rough around the edges and had few connections, but the ones she had were genuine. Her chapters were among my favorites. There was also little romance, but it was subtle, very slow burn.

All in all, I enjoyed The Lost Carousel of Provence. And I guess it’s time to read that copy of The Paris Key that’s been sitting on my shelf since 2016....
About the author....

Juliet Blackwell is the New York Times bestselling author of Letters from Paris and The Paris Key. She also writes the Witchcraft Mystery series and the Haunted Home Renovation series. As Hailey Lind, Blackwell wrote the Agatha-nominated Art Lover's Mystery series. A former anthropologist, social worker, and professional artist, Juliet is a California native who has spent time in Mexico, Spain, Cuba, Italy, the Philippines, and France....

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Disclaimer: this copy of the book was provided by First to Read for this review, thank you!

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