The Lost Carousel of Provence
By Juliet Blackwell
Brought to you by OBS Reviewer Daniele
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. (Goodreads)
The Lost Carousel of Provence is an enjoyable book full of heartache, loss, and hope for the future. Blackwell paints a vivid picture of France, and her love of the country and its people shines through with every word.
Told from three perspectives and taking place in three different eras, it weaves a memorable tale of overcoming difficult circumstances. In the present day, photographer Cady, after experiencing two great losses, hopes to distract herself by working on a book about carousels in France. She is especially interested in finding the provenance of her own carousel rabbit and answers to the secrets it contains. Readers also learn about an ambitious carver who worked on a carousel in the early twentieth century and a tragic story of German occupied France during World War II. All three threads are related and come together to form a cohesive narrative.
I am a great fan of historical fiction so I was surprised to enjoy the present day storyline the most. Cady definitely carries baggage from her rough childhood, and it affects her personality, perceptions, and interactions with people. She is likable in an awkward way. Elderly Fabrice is prickly and reclusive, but he and Cady make an endearing pair. Even though all of the characters are interesting, I had the most trouble connecting carver Maelle and the other carousel makers and the Clements.
The carousel theme that ties the three eras together is fascinating. I enjoyed learning the history of how carousels came to be and the craftsmanship that went into making the whimsical landmarks. I can easily see how Cady came to love them so much. Being an armchair traveler to Paris and the French countryside is also a highlight of the book. I can smell the lavender on the gentle breeze and taste the wonderful baked goods.
The Lost Carousel of Provence is a heartfelt story of the profound effects the little things we do and how they can alter others’ lives. Recommended.
*OBS would like to thank the publisher for supplying a free copy of this title in exchange for an honest review*