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 was really looking forward to reading this, from fellow Ocelot, Vanessa, and I’m definitely not disappointed. Although it isn’t an era I’ve read a lot about, I thoroughly enjoyed being immersed in it, alongside Marie-Thérèse and her family. She has undoubted talent, even recognised as such by visiting clergy, but in a time when actresses and singers weren’t considered particularly high-status, her mother is naturally concerned about where such skills will take her. Circumstance upon circumstance is thrown in Marie-Thérèse’s way, as tragedy results in travel to Paris, and just as hard a life there as there was in the country.
Bit by bit, things begin to develop for Marie-Thérèse, through a meeting with Frederic, a character I really enjoyed reading about, but then, life cannot be that easy, can it? Marie-Thérèse is discovering a lot about life during the course of the novel, and has so many hardships to contend with, you cannot help but root for her.
As somebody who loves Paris, reading about the city is always a thrill, taking me back to the streets and gardens, and being amongst the bustle of it all. I can highly recommend this first book in the series, and cannot wait to read more. It’s a beautifully-crafted story, which just leaps off the page for you.
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.
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