Beyond the Lavender Fields by Arlem Hawks
Rumors of revolution in Paris swirl in Marseille, a bustling port city in southern France. Gilles Étienne, a clerk at the local soap factory, thrives on the news. Committed to the cause of equality, liberty, and brotherhood, he and his friends plan to march to Paris to dethrone the monarchy. His plans are halted when he meets Marie-Caroline Daubin, the beautiful daughter of the owner of the factory.
A bourgeoise and a royalist, Marie-Caroline has been called home to Marseille to escape the unrest in Paris. She rebuffs Gilles’s efforts to charm her and boldly expresses her view that violently imposed freedom is not really freedom for all. As Marie-Caroline takes risks to follow her beliefs, Gilles catches her in a dangerous secret that could cost her and her family their lives. As Gilles and Marie-Caroline spend more time together, she questions her initial assumptions about Gilles and realizes that per-haps they have more in common than she thought.
As the spirit of revolution descends on Marseille, people are killed and buildings are ransacked and burned to the ground. Gilles must choose between supporting the political change he believes in and protecting those he loves. And Marie-Caroline must battle between standing up for what she feels is right and risking her family’s safety. With their lives and their nation in turmoil, both Gilles and Marie- Caroline wonder if a révolutionnaire and a royaliste can really be together in a world that forces people to choose sides.
About the Author:
Arlem Hawks began making up stories before she could write. Living all over the western United States and traveling around the world gave her a love of cultures and people and the stories they have to tell. She has a bachelor’s degree in communications, with an emphasis in print journalism. She lives in Arizona with her husband and three children.
This was such a tender love story of Marie- Caroline who is a Royalist and Gilles who is for the Republic. A romantic relationship is difficult enough on its own, but even more so when two people have such differing political views and backgrounds in a time of crisis. Ms. Hawks navigated Caroline and Gilles through tumultuous obstacles with ease as only she can do. I was drawn into the story by seeing that love is strong enough to overcome insurmountable odds.
Ms. Hawks captures the mood and conflict of the French Revolution so well with the story of this courageous young couple. Showing the conflict through Gilles and Caroline’s feelings made this an interesting story. When emotions run high from those of the more aggressive revolutionaries I was a bit nervous as to what would happen and was relieved things were resolved.
One of my favorite quotes that I believe aptly describes the character and courage of both Caroline and Gilles is, “Doing right is more important than who is right, I believe.”
If you like stories similar to A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens, you will enjoy reading this. The author did an excellent job of portraying this time period and those who would have lived and loved during this conflict.
I was given an advanced reader copy of the book from Shadow Mountain. I was not required to write a positive review. All opinions are my own.