Book Review: The Beekeeper’s Promise (*****)

I am a 10 Book Reviewer on Net Galley!

And here’s another one. I was sent this e-book, free-of-charge (yay!) by NetGalley, in return for an honest review.

THE BEEKEEPER’S PROMISE

by Fiona Valpy

I was intruiged by the blurb on Net Galley:

Heartbroken and hoping for a new start, Abi Howes takes a summer job in rural France at the Château Bellevue. The old château echoes with voices from the past, and soon Abi finds herself drawn to one remarkable woman’s story, a story that could change the course of her summer—and her life.

In 1938, Eliane Martin tends beehives in the garden of the beautiful Château Bellevue. In its shadow she meets Mathieu Dubosq and falls in love for the first time, daring to hope that a happy future awaits. But France’s eastern border is darkening under the clouds of war, and history has other plans for Eliane…

When she is separated from Mathieu in the chaos of German occupation, Eliane makes the dangerous decision to join the Resistance and fight for France’s liberty. But with no end to the war in sight, her loyalty to Mathieu is severely tested.

It definitely sounded like my kind of book – I am always interested to read about ordinary people during World War II, often contemplating what would I have done, had I been in the situation? Of course, being set in France there was an added interest for me, as I live in France, although not in the area in which the story is based.

I have to say, I loved it! I finished it in about three days, as I found it difficult to put down – in fact, I was reading until half past midnight last night, because I wanted (and didn’t want!) to finish it. It is well written; perhaps not with the same lyrical prose as Patrick Gale (another of my five star authors) but there were certainly enough beautifully written passages to make me pause to enjoy reading them. The author writes with a real sense of place (Roxana Nastase please take note!) and she made me believe that such a place as Coulliac exists; I could imagine the village, the chateau, the moulin. She obviously loves France, and this shines through her writing.

The characters too were believable – perhaps some of the German soldiers were a little too nice, but there must have been many decent people in the army, who despised what they were being ordered to do, so presumably there were officers who were sympathetic towards the French people. I also liked the fact that these weren’t great heroic Resistance fighters, but ordinary people doing their little bit towards the opposition of their invaders. I liked both main characters very much, and I had no real preference towards the present day story, or the wartime narrative. Both were sympathetically written, and I very much liked the thread of bees that ran through the story. I find bees a very attractive creature.

gratuitous picture of bee and sunflower

While I had a reasonably good idea of how the story was going to end, and how the two narratives would be drawn together, there was enough suspense to keep it interesting.

All in all, I would thoroughly recommend this book, and, like the other reviewers on Net Galley, I give it five stars. I would be interested in reading other books by the same author.

*****

Sorry there’s been a lot of book reviews at the moment: I suppose I’m getting in all my reading while I have the desire to read. When I’m in recovery mode from chemo, I don’t feel like reading, so there’s about 7 – 10 days when I don’t read, giving me another 10 days to catch up! And, with Net Galley there’s always a constant supply of free reading material! What’s not to like!? The only obligation is to write a review, but that’s not a great burden: after all, it gives me the subject for a blog post!!

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2 thoughts on “Book Review: The Beekeeper’s Promise (*****)

  1. Always happy to read a good book review and widen my author range. Hope the treatment effects are improving – thoughts and prayers coming your way.

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