Published in 2015 and written by American author Kim Troike.
While driving on the road Daniela got to witness a terrible accident, she quickly pulled the passenger from the vehicle but wasn’t that lucky when she attempted to save the driver. This event will change Francis’ life forever.
Sometime later she gets enrolled in a cooking school in France, there she has the chance to meet handsome Olivier who owns the grape vines where the school is located. In her class she also gets acquainted with Brie; a 40-year-old woman who’s trying to get the best of the experience by learning the French cuisine.
Shortly after Daniela and Olivier start going out and a new attraction arises between them. Olivier shows her around town and they promise to keep in touch after the course is over and she have to go back to the US where she’s from. But… things were not as simple as they planned and tragedy strikes on both sides.
Alternatively Olivier works as a volunteer pilot saving victims from the war in Africa and helping to relocate them into civilization. Unluckily he eventually gets kidnapped in one of those trips and loses track of Daniela for a long time. In the meanwhile Daniela has to struggle her own battle to get over illness and regain communication with Olivier. This is when Brie comes along to give them a hand.
This is just the beginning of the book, lots of things happen during this fair long story. By judging the book cover I thought the novel would only portrait the glam and the excitement of traveling and visiting several places around the world, walking hurriedly through airports corridors and stuff; and the prospect of meeting people from diversified backgrounds,. But… not quite. The book is actually a compendium of different lives and incidents where sorrow and happiness take place seemingly.
The first pages of the book are just awesome; the accident gets your full attention right away as Daniela tries to save a little boy’s mother who was trapped in the driver’s seat. Reading this passage you wonder if this is rather a sad story about an orphan kid. Well, fortunately not that sad.
Moreover I have to admit that I was startled when our heroine suddenly vanished from sight; and I thought to myself: now what? But things would develop in time; and an unexpected twist of events will abruptly alter the course. The story somehow entails the query: What if your friend’s passing brings you and her boyfriend together? Would you feel you’re betraying your friendship or would you carry on? Mm… food for thought.
However, no long after, the touching scene of the car crash sharply contrasts with the following passages which show the trip to France and all the fabulous places in Paris. There we go then; Café-au-lait and pastry at the French Bleu, a little jazzy place where Olivier plays the guitar and sings with his friend Darlene. The ambience sort of resembles that of La Belle Époque; small cafes, libraries and museums that reflect the Parisian life style. I really enjoyed reading this view of the book as it perfectly matches the picture the reader sees on the cover.
The book comprises a great range of subjects where the author exhibits considerable knowledge on many interesting topics such as everything that is related to the wine properties and vineyards, type of airplanes and how they operate, the raw material for elaborating perfumes; she also describes life in the wild and how the characters adapt well and enjoy the exotic environment; not to mention the cultural ceremonies carried out by locals which display some of the residents’ customs.
The narrative summons a big group of characters who courageously try to do the best of their lives to fulfill their dreams and get along with each other harmoniously. Something I really liked was the deep sense of family and how the characters indeed cared for their loved ones. Being generous enough to accept and welcome someone else’s children as their own, raise them and help them overcome their fears and integrate to a new family; a commitment many of us would frankly doubt to take on.
On the other side, even though a well written text I personally think the book is somewhat slow and chapters too long. Considering the amount of events that take place throughout the book I would rather have chosen to leave out some less relevant passages in order to shorten the text a bit and make it a little more fluid. An instance of this would be the technical information about airplanes, it could be too much data for average readers like me.
In overall, great reading with a sizable variety of subjects and interesting and different walks of life. I’ll be eager to read the sequel if there’s one coming up sometime.