From Susan Vreeland, bestselling author of such acclaimed novels as "Girl in Hyacinth Blue, Luncheon of the Boating Party, "and" Clara and Mr. Tiffany, "comes a richly imagined story of a woman's awakening in the south of Vichy France--to the power of art, to the beauty of provincial life, and to love in the midst of war.
In 1937, young Lisette Roux and her husband, Andre, move from Paris to a village in Provence to care for Andre's grandfather Pascal. Lisette regrets having to give up her dream of becoming a gallery apprentice and longs for the comforts and sophistication of Paris. But as she soon discovers, the hilltop town is rich with unexpected pleasures.
Pascal once worked in the nearby ochre mines and later became a pigment salesman and frame maker; while selling his pigments in Paris, he befriended Pissarro and Cezanne, some of whose paintings he received in trade for his frames. Pascal begins to tutor Lisette in both art and life, allowing her to see his small collection of paintings and the Provencal landscape itself in a new light. Inspired by Pascal's advice to "Do the important things first," Lisette begins a list of vows to herself (#"4. Learn what makes a painting great"). When war breaks out, Andre goes off to the front, but not before hiding Pascal's paintings to keep them from the Nazis' reach.
With German forces spreading across Europe, the sudden fall of Paris, and the rise of Vichy France, Lisette sets out to locate the paintings ("#11. Find the paintings in my lifetime"). Her search takes her through the stunning French countryside, where she befriends Marc and Bella Chagall, who are in hiding before their flight to America, and acquaints her with the land, her neighbors, and even herself in ways she never dreamed possible. Through joy and tragedy, occupation and liberation, small acts of kindness and great acts of courage, Lisette learns to forgive the past, to live robustly, and to love again.
Praise for Susan Vreeland
"Clara and Mr. Tiffany"
"Vreeland's ability to make this complex historical novel as luminous as a Tiffany lamp is nothing less than remarkable."--"The Washington Post"
"Vreeland's writing is so graceful, her research so exhaustive, that a reader is enfolded in the world of Tiffany and Driscoll."--"Los Angeles Times"
"Luncheon of the Boating Party"
"A masterwork . . . Like the painters Vreeland writes about, she too is leaving her legacy--some of the world's finest examples of historical fiction."--"The San Diego Union-Tribune"
"Exquisitely wrought . . . this summer's most satisfying historical novel."--"The Seattle Times "
"Girl in Hyacinth Blue"
"Intelligent, searching and unusual, the novel is filled with luminous moments; like the painting it describes so well, it has a way of lingering in the reader's mind."--"The New York Times"
"A little gem of a novel . . . [a] beautifully written exploration of the power of art."--"Parade"