From Susan Vreeland, bestselling author of such acclaimed
novels as Girl in Hyacinth Blue, Luncheon
of the Boating Party, and Clara and
Mr. Tiffany, comes a richly imagined story of a woman’s awakening in the
south of Vichy France—to the power of art, to the beauty of provincial life,
and to love in the midst of war.
In 1937, young Lisette Roux and her husband, André, move
from Paris to a village in Provence to care for André’s grandfather Pascal.
Lisette regrets having to give up her dream of becoming a gallery apprentice
and longs for the comforts and sophistication of Paris. But as she soon
discovers, the hilltop town is rich with unexpected pleasures.
Pascal once worked in the nearby ochre mines and later
became a pigment salesman and frame maker; while selling his pigments in Paris,
he befriended Pissarro and Cézanne, some of whose paintings he received in
trade for his frames. Pascal begins to tutor Lisette in both art and life,
allowing her to see his small collection of paintings and the Provençal
landscape itself in a new light. Inspired by Pascal’s advice to “do the
important things first,” Lisette begins a list of vows to herself (#4. Learn what makes a painting great). When war
breaks out, André goes off to the front, but not before hiding Pascal’s
paintings to keep them from the Nazis’ reach.
With German forces spreading across Europe, the sudden fall
of Paris, and the rise of Vichy France, Lisette sets out to locate the
paintings (#11. Find the paintings in my lifetime). Her search takes her
through the stunning French countryside, where she befriends Marc and Bella
Chagall, who are in hiding before their flight to America, and acquaints her
with the land, her neighbors, and even herself in ways she never dreamed
possible. Through joy and tragedy, occupation and liberation, small acts of
kindness and great acts of courage, Lisette learns to forgive the past, to live
robustly, and to love again. Download and start listening now!