Award-winning romance author Sophia Nash makes her women’s fiction debut with a beautifully crafted, funny, and life-affirming story set in the Atlantic seaside region of France, as one woman returns to France to sell her family home and finds an unexpected chance to start over—perfect for fans of Le Divorce and The Little Paris Bookshop.
Home is the last place Kate expected to find herself…
As a child, Kate Hamilton was packed off each summer to her grandfather’s ivy-covered villa in southern France. That ancestral home, named Marthe Marie, is now crumbling, and it falls to Kate—regarded as the most responsible and practical member of her family—to return to the rugged, beautiful seaside region to confront her grandfather’s debts and convince him to sell.
Kate makes her living as a psychologist and life coach, but her own life is in as much disarray as Marthe Marie. Her marriage has ended, and she’s convinced that she has failed her teenaged daughter, Lily, in unforgiveable ways. While delving into colorful family history and the consequences of her own choices, Kate reluctantly agrees to provide coaching to Major Edward Soames, a British military officer suffering with post-traumatic stress. Breaking through his shell, and dealing with idiosyncratic locals intent on viewing her as an Americanized outsider, will give Kate new insight into who—and where—she wants to be. The answers will prove as surprising as the secrets that reside in the centuries-old villa.
Witty and sophisticated, rich in history and culture, Sophia Nash’s novel vividly evokes both its idyllic French setting and the universal themes of self-forgiveness and rebuilding in a story as touching as it is wise.
e a reader who doesn’t mind a story that is slow to reveal and appreciate description
I’ve read one of Nash’s historic romances, and enjoyed her twists and turns in characterization, deviating from the norm, but still providing a set of characters and plot that was immersive and easy to appreciate. In Whispering in French, the story often meanders with sidelines to setting and prose that is meant to evoke the sense of slowing down: and this becomes the tone for the novel. I read fast – usually 3 or 4 titles a week in slow weeks, and this book was one that I could not read in one sitting: a few chapters each day over a week was the best I could manage. It is a title that doesn’t show or grow quickly, and the repeated insertions with wildlife in the hedges, while interesting the first time, just left me wondering whether it was intended as a device for Kate to slow down and notice the little things, or to give readers another focus from the lack of forward and measurable progress in character growth.
Kate was an interesting, if not captivating, character. Finding her life in disarray: marriage ended, discord between she and her daughter, this life coach and psychotherapist needs some coaching and regrouping of her own. Fond memories of childhood summers spent in the south of France with her grandfather present her the opportunity to work on his estate, deal with debts and repair issues, and find a quiet place to regroup and reconsider her own path. Off she heads to the now run-down villa, and finds that her memories from childhood are often missing the disarray and decaying reality.
With an ex-military man suffering from PTSD that she agrees to work with, the natives who view her in a guarded, if not quite overtly rude way, and her own need and desire to delve into family secrets as she decides her next turn, the story does bring a sense of second-chances and growth; it is, however, very slow to establish and often mired in the attempt to establish an ambience that is much like the summer in France: lazy, quietly deceptive in the depth that can be found should one look. I can’t say that I loved the book, but I didn’t ever want to just put it down and not return: there are moments that are glorious – but the passages to get there are slow-moving and filled with detours. If you are a reader who doesn’t mind a story that is slow to reveal and appreciate description and rather overloaded prose, this is the title for you.
I received an eARC copy of the title from the publisher via NetGalley for purpose of honest review. I was not compensated for this review: all conclusions are my own responsibility.