I’m delighted to be part of the book tour for this wonderful book by one of my favourite authors.
What if you had a unique talent, but everything conspired against your dreams?
France, 1897. Born to a modest farming family, Marie-Thérèse has a remarkable singing voice and wants to become a professional singer. But too many obstacles, including her parents’ opposition, stand in her way. And, through no fault of her own, she makes a dangerous enemy of the local landlord.
When the family circumstances change suddenly, Marie-Thérèse and her mother must move to Paris to work in her aunt’s restaurant. Her ambitions rekindle, but the road to success is paved with setbacks until a chance meeting gives her a precious opportunity.
She is close to achieving all her dreams, but the ghosts of the past come back to haunt her and threaten Marie-Thérèse’s life as well as her career.
I so admire this author’s writing, and I’m delighted that there’s a new novel for us to enjoy. Even better, it’s the first in a trilogy so there are two more books to follow in this particular series.
Historical fiction presents a story set in the past. Some books in this genre tend to be more history than fiction, or vice versa, but with Vanessa Couchman the balance is perfect. The time period of the setting plays as essential a role as the characters and plot.
Marie-Thérèse is a fascinating heroine. She’s the only child of poor farmers and as such is fated to life as first their unpaid farmhand, and then that of a future husband who will move onto the farm. Her life appears to be mapped out for her: she’ll live in the same place until she dies. The feeling of oppression this brings her seeps from the pages of the book and is overwhelming. It makes the reader strongly realise that this was what women in the past had to endure. They were at someone else’s beck and call their entire lives. All they could do was grit their teeth and get on with it.
Marie-Thérèse has talents: she’s very bright, and she also sings beautifully, like a lark soaring into the sky. It’s no surprise the locals call her l’alouette, which is the French name for that bird. But it seems she must keep her light under a bushel. Her family think it’s wrong for her to show off.
Fate steps in and her father’s death gives Marie-Thérèse a little more clout. Her mother’s health deteriorates quickly so the daughter has to become the strong one of the family. But her mother is stubborn and unforgiving, and this complicates things no end. It’s only when things are at their darkest – when homelessness looms – that there’s a glimmer of light for Marie-Thérèse. Paris brings hope to Marie-Thérèse, and it’s where she must prove her mettle if she wants to live her dream. But it’s not going to be easy.
I couldn’t put this book down. It’s engrossing, fascinating and beautifully written. It recreates early twentieth-century France in intricate detail and mood. This book hands us tightly-woven story and history on a silver platter.
About the author – Vanessa Couchman is a novelist, short story author and freelance writer and has lived in an 18th-century farmhouse in southwest France since 1997. French and Corsican history and culture provide great inspiration for her fiction. She has written two novels set on the Mediterranean island of Corsica: The House at Zaronza and The Corsican Widow. Her third novel, Overture, is Book 1 of a trilogy set in France between 1897 and 1945. Vanessa’s short stories have won and been placed in creative writing competitions and published in anthologies.
Social Media Links –
Amazon Author Page: http://author.to/VanessaCouchman
Do follow the rest of the tour and find out what other reviewers have to say about ‘Overture’. But best of all, buy and read the book for yourself!