About the Book:
Catherine Parkstone is starting fresh when she moves from England to rural France, leaving behind her sister, mother, two grown children, and ex-husband and embarking on her own dream of making a living as a seamstress and tapestry maker. As she begins to settle into her new, rather isolated life, she encounters the sorts of unexpected quirks that often accompany wholly unfamiliar living situations and begins to build a little community of friends and neighbors. As life flows on, so does Catherine’s story.
The best word I can think of to describe The Tapestry of Love is “nice.” If you are seeking a quiet novel full of rural charm and lovely people, look no further. It has all the idyllic foreignness and that woman-on-her-own feel of Frances Mayes’ well-known Under the Tuscan Sun. It makes no unreasonable demands on the reader but tells a simple, easy story fully within the realm of the imaginable.
I liked Catherine very much. She was logical, but not at all to a fault; independent, but not annoyingly so. She was just the sort of character through whom to experience life in a place like the Cévennes mountains. Her family and neighbors took on lives and personalities of their own, so that by the novel’s end, Catherine existed within a good-sized matrix of very real and endearing supporting characters.
Thornton’s writing is lovely, well-suited to the sort of book she has written. She has a knack for describing a place so that you can see it in your mind’s eye without feeling like you have just slogged through descriptive excess. I liked how she spent so much time on the small things in daily life, allowing the few bigger events to occur in their own space rather than layering them for dramatic effect. Catherine’s progression throughout the novel felt real because of it.
I did have one issue. My problem was that I didn’t like Patrick. I wasn’t against him at the beginning and was interested to see what twist Thornton would put on the potential love story, but as soon as Bryony came along, I ceased to trust him. I don’t care what his reasons were for lying to the sisters, and I don’t care what Bryony asked him for. Really, Patrick? Seducing sister #2 while she is grief-stricken and still miffed at you because of the whole sister #1 thing? Had I been Catherine, I would have said, “Eff you, buddy,” and pushed him into the stream. I was disappointed that she weakened in the end. I wish the whole business with Bryony and Patrick and his mysterious past had just been left out. It felt unnecessary and artificial and gave a sourish flavor to the parts of the novel that featured it. I’d have preferred a straight-up, predictable love story to the mess that was the Patrick subplot.
Overall, I enjoyed The Tapestry of Love by Rosy Thornton. If you are in the mood for such a book, I think it would do very nicely.