Saturday, May 23, 2009

Valley of Grace

Valley of Grace was, for me, a journey through the streets of Paris with everyday Parisians. I loved the descriptions of buildings, lane ways, markets, hidden gardens and cafes. I enjoyed some of the details of conversations and events occurring in the lives of the characters. The daughters journey with her mother to visit her childhood village and the recollections of the war and the resistance, and the bookshop owners philosophy on books. I liked being let in on lovers secrets and house improvements....

...Roses, he says, we could have roses. Real ones, in the garden. An arched walk, with roses, climbing over it, scented, filling the air with scent. Summer nights, and the odour of roses. Lunch in the garden, under the cherry trees......

But I had to work to get through this book. I didn't feel engaged with the story until very close to the end, and found it easier to read it as though they were short stories from the same neighborhood. I can look back now and see what brings to book together, but its all a bit late. Now I can read the back of the book and make sense of it, but at first I didn't get it.

The author has woven together the lives of individuals and couples who live in the vicinity of the Valley of Grace [named after the health care services that congregated in that area]. They seem to be connected through the central character, Fanny, and the central theme is Love. Now, I'm caught in the same trap as the back cover - do I tell you how I made sense of the book - or leave the mystery up to you? Without disclosing the secrets of the book, I will say this - every character in the book is searching for love or struggling with their love choices. There are different relationships all exploring the same longing. And the very last paragraph says it all:

Don't think of happy endings. Who wants happy endings? A series of happy beginnings, hope for that.

The church of Val-de-Grace

1 comment:

Karen said...

I think I still want to read this one - simply for the setting!