Reviewed by Nina Longfield
Heidi is a woman whose life virtually ended with her husband’s death. She is a mother, a sister, a daughter, an aunt, and a baker on hold. When a kitchen fire damages a portion of the family home in Provence, France, Heidi’s mother and sister plan an intervention to push Heidi back into life.
Heidi is an unwilling participant in their endeavors. With her troubled eight year old son, Abbot, and her cynical niece, Charlotte, Heidi travels to France to rebuild the family house and repair the damage of her own life. During the process of renovation, Heidi is led back in time through stories and letters to the mystery of her mother’s lost summer. “Every woman needs a lost summer,” her mother had said before Heidi left her American home for the French countryside. As Heidi delves into the mystery of her mother’s lost summer, she begins to find the courage to reenter her own life and assist her son and niece along the way.
The Provence Cure for the Brokenhearted by Bridget Asher is not only Heidi’s tale. It is also the story of Charlotte, Heidi’s teenaged niece, who is struggling to find her place in the world as she moves into adulthood. The novel also contains the story of an almost magical house that seems to have the ability of knowing what its inhabitants desire. Asher’s narration is gripping and holds the story together. Through Heidi, the reader experiences a great sense of both love and loss. Heidi sees the foreign landscape of Provence through not only her eyes, but learns to view it from her son’s and niece’s perspectives as well. With the family home pulling them together, the three forge a bond back into life.
The book’s solid narrative is slightly hindered by an overlong beginning. The first third of the book encompassed a menagerie of backstory and details bearing seemingly little relevance to the plot. Then the ending came too quick. I wanted to see more of Provence, the almost magical house, and the transformation of the lead characters. It is in this setting that the story truly begins. Despite its slow start and rushed ending, The Provence Cure for the Brokenhearted was an emotional voyage through loss, release, and a person’s ability to heal and move forward.
Check out Bridget Asher’s website (Bridget is her pen name; her real name is Julianna)
Nina Longfield is a writer living in Oregon’s fertile wine country. When she is not reading or writing in her spare time, Nina enjoys hiking in the hills surrounding her cabin.
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