This book came recommended by my Mum who had hoarded it for me – knowing that I would love the French aspect of the story. My first book from Valpy, I really enjoyed it and finished it in a day and a half!
Through two different narratives, Valpy tells the stories of two women – Abi and Eliane, who live through two different eras. Eliane, a young French maid living in Château Bellevue, during the German occupation period of the second world war, where she joins the French resistance movement, and Abi, an English girl working in the château for the summer season. Abi has experienced a great deal of trauma in her life as a survivor of domestic abuse, and she finds strength and endurance in learning of Eliane’s remarkable tale. Two very different themes: the French resistance, and modern-day domestic violence are merged through the overriding theme of resilience.
overall I realllllyyy enjoyed this book – here are some of favourite and not so favourite bits.
Things I loved:
- The vivid descriptions of France and the scenery: I felt like I was right there in the story, from the beautiful setting of the château, to the palpable fear felt by French people during the occupation. Her descriptions are so beautiful, from the buzzing of the bee colonies and the champagne honey, to the colours of the gardens. You can really tell that Valpy spent 7 years living in France by the way that she made me see, smell, and feel everything she described.
- The historical content: I love learning about history – especially the French occupation, having studied it at school! The plot was fictional but Valpy included historical events such as the harrowing massacre at Tulle which actually took place.
- The use of French language throughout the book. I am fortunate to understand as a French student, but for other readers you might want to look a few words up. The French language adds to the richness of the story and really transports you to the setting! I wouldn’t say not speaking French hinders you from understanding, but in the same way, if you understand the French words it definitely enhances the story.
Things I didn’t like so much:
- The relationship between Eliane and Mathieu could have been further developed in my opinion. The synopsis made it sound like it was a romance novel, but it was definitely more historical. Their relationship is mentioned occasionally and Valpy dips in and out of their story, but she could have gone more into their feelings for one another. They seem to just accept they are apart so it would have added to the plot if they defied the rules to find one another again – in my opinion.
- I preferred Eliane’s chapters to Abi’s and I found myself waiting for Abi’s parts to be over so that I could get back into Eliane’s story. But I can see why Valpy did that, as that was how Abi felt, eager to learn more about Eliane.
Overall a fabulous read and page turner you won’t put down. I highly recommend The Beekeepers promise. Follow the link below to get your copy now and let me know what you think!