Publisher: Lake Union
Genre: Women’s Fiction
The author of the Love in Provence series returns to the South of France with a poignant portrait of a woman who must learn how to create a new life for herself…
Sixty-two-year-old Arianna arrives in the South of France for a two-week artists’ workshop full of anticipation but burdened by guilt. Back home in Toronto, she has been living with the devastating diagnosis of her husband’s dementia and the heartbreak of watching the man she has loved for decades slip away before her eyes. What does her future hold without Ben? Before her is a blank canvas.
Encouraged by her family to take some time for herself, she has traveled to Arles to set up her easel in the same fields of poppies and sunflowers that inspired Van Gogh. Gradually, she rediscovers the inner artist she abandoned long ago. Drawing strength from the warm companionship and gentle wisdom of her fellow artists at the retreat—as well as the vitality of guest lecturer Jacques de Villeneuve, an artist and a cowboy—Arianna searches her heart for permission to embrace the life in front of her and, like the sunflowers, once again face the light.
A few months back I read Sands Love in Provence series and absolutely loved it, she creates realistic characters in the most beautiful settings dealing with the same type of issues and problems that many of us can relate to on some level. She takes the reader on a poignant and emotional journey that is just a gorgeous experience.
I adored her protagonist Katherine from LIP and was hoping I would have another strong connection to Arianna and I totally did! I love that Sands has heroines that are not in their twenties, they’re more mature and worldly bringing a sophistication to the story. Arianna’s situation was heart wrenching, dementia is a devastating disease and I had so much sympathy for her. When she takes a chance and heads to the artists retreat she begins a journey of personal growth and self introspection that was amazing. The rest of the people at the retreat are eclectic and interesting, they added an additional layer of depth to the story.
Sands truly brings a setting to life, from the mouthwatering, scrumptious food descriptions to the stunning landscapes she paints the prettiest picture with her prose. There was a strong, rich sense of history of Arles that was fascinating, I’m not a history buff or remotely artistic by any means but it was compelling and I definitely learned a few new things. This was a bittersweet read with plenty of life lessons and inspiration, a really positive and lovely tale.
Overall rating: 4/5
Thanks to the publisher for my review copy.