Kate and Stephen Glover are in need of a break from their hectic London life - go on a winter sabbatical in the secluded French village of Canas. Opening with the prologue in 1985 and celebrating the 60th birthday of Lucie Borja with a party in the grounds of the Chateau. Gradually, Kate is drawn to the building. There was a good book in there somewhere. It was a damp Friday afternoon.
The story mov This is a beautifully presented book, the cover is antique in style, representing the story inside. And then, to 1946 and newly-wed Lucie and Arnaud arrive at the Chateau to start married life. Kate and Stephen Glover are in need of a break from their hectic London life - go on a winter sabbatical in the secluded French village of Canas. I almost gave up as it kept hinting at the secrets that were obviously to be revealed and that were the only thing that may keep the story alive but came way too late in the book. Kate, seeking escape from her marriage, is irrevocably drawn to the village and to the derelict chateau at its heart.
It seems to have a hypnotic effect on her. If you can call it that. Kate was laughing, at Stephen trying to flatten himself on the small bed, and at herself now; she was trying to do a belly dance. They soon learn that the inhabitants of this community have a history that they dare not explore. Week after week, singing and laughing in there, rolling up smoke after smoke so the nights could go on, leading them on through the games and the psychedelic frogs towards the dry light of dawn. When Kate and Stephen Glover arrive at the village of Canas, in the Cevennes district of south-central France, they are gradually affected by life in this apparently sleepy village.
The English couple seemed rather redundant to the story for me. Now she turned after her husband and followed him in, running her hands on the wall in search of the light switch. She opened the door and felt the thickness of air behind it; in her throat and eyes the smoke was bitter and she heard Daniel coughing, saw the flames licking yellow in the seat of the old horsehair sofa and leaping in the curtains above it. I so wanted to like this one - the book jacket write-up sounded quite perfect, and the cover alone made me smile. She wondered again about his restlessness and agitation.
This book is a history of a house, a house that is saturated with sorrow and that overwhelms those who live in its shadow. One family moving in, starting up their own vineyard, struggling with infertility. Then it rose over the sand dunes and the dry grasses on the floodplain. I did like the character of Sylvie - some of the scenes with her mother were some of the best in the book. There was Sylvie on the floor by the sofa, drugged and sleeping, and Daniel was crawling towards her, shouting for her to wake up, fanning his arms over the sofa. Lucie hit the ground, which smelt of dry limestone rock.
This was a book that promised so much, but for me delivered a vacuum. Life in Canas was simple. But soon Kate's daily excursions over the chateau wall are spreading rumours in the village. Arnaud was coming up behind her, running, his belly leaping from side to side. I expected more of an exciting ending. Lucie withdrew from the balcony and into the quiet of her bedroom.
The air chill in the evening, Stephen wrapped his wife in a sheepskin rug, made love to her in front of the fire. Children lost on a beach, it is said, walk towards the sun, as if, like plants, they seek the light. Lucie is a Paris girl and finds it difficult to make friends with the women in the small town, she welcomes an Algerian couple into her home, and finds her first real friend in Fatima. She bent to collect up a handful of gravel, her thought to throw something at the fire; if she could find the strength, Saint Perpetua, to throw a handful of these little stones. They took photographs, made films of the room, panning the camera round till they found each other, smiling, arms on the back of the sofa, heads tilted, serene. There was only one road into Canas then, and you had to turn round in the square and drive out again with the church on your left this time and the east wall of the chateau rising up to your right. It was right to bring the table outside.
On the surface, the historic French village, at the heart of this novel, looks at peace with itself and its past. It is a story of love and ownership, thwarted desire, and the damage done when the truth is withheld. But we waited all the way through for the reappearance of Daniel, and he was such a disappointment - never really lived on the page, just an over-sized petulant child really. However, I began to lose interest after a while. What she doesn't know is that the house has a terrible legacy, and her private journey of escape and self-discovery is threatening to reawaken the trauma of a family, broken apart one summer's night more than fifty years before. But it was a real disappointment and I must admit I was quite reluctant at times to carry on reading. We All Ran into the Sunlight - eBook.