Amongst the sanctity of his family’s farm in Avignon, Noah Capet finds solitude. He works the land and serves as farrier to the locals. Between his devotion to his work, to his family, and to the animals he assists, Noah counts himself content. Until he meets Jeremie Perreault, newly arrived and in the process of opening up a bookstore. Almost from the start, Noah finds his world undone by the affable, passionate Jeremie who dreams of books and of journeying the world to see them. With Jeremie, Noah begins to glimpse something of the world beyond Avignon.
But Jeremie comes from a wealthy family who demands their only child set aside his foolish dreams, inherit the family business, and marry a proper wife. Noah and his quiet, but powerful presence threaten the future they have planned. Jeremie and Noah must decide if they are willing to risk everything for the fragile love they share or retreat to the paths others have created for them. And if even if they choose love, there is no guarantee either of them will live long enough to cherish it.
Wow. Just wow. I’m not even sure where to begin with Lavender in Bloom. When I chose this book for review, I never expected to be so blown away, but I knew from the first page that I was reading something special. The author does an amazing job of transporting us to the French countryside and doing so in such a way as to be relatable to almost every reader. Anyone who has lived in the county or driven by a pasture and smelled the air after hay has been mowed can conjure an image of the farm that Noah calls home. The writing is poignant and evocative without ever seeming melodramatic or excessive. Noah and Jeremie exist as utter opposites save when it comes to the passions they share for the things they love. Noah is quiet and stoic and cares for little save his craft and his family. He is isolated from the world because solitude is comfortable and as a result he is viewed as lacking or different. Jeremie is gregarious and asks questions without ever needing the answers. He sees Noah’s silence as perfectly normal and understands the other man’s need for perfection as a mirror for his own passions. They are uniquely suited for one another, but familial obligations; societal expectations and their own fear prevent them from every truly connecting.
There are no happy endings with Lavender in Bloom. There is pain and passion and perhaps, at the end, a moment of fragile triumph, but no eternal romance. We know that Noah and Jeremie are doomed almost from the moment they meet and yet theirs is a journey that must be taken. Lavender in Bloom is the story of reckless abandon, desperation, and even moments of comfort and happiness. But ultimately it is the story of acceptance – if being strong enough and brave enough to live the life you want, in spite of grief and fear and all the things that destroy our dreams of a different world.
Lavender in Bloom is not a perfect book, but it possesses moments of perfection and I find that to be a very rare thing indeed. The writing is lyrical and bittersweet and it is easy to become lost in the world this author has created. I cannot recommend it more highly and consider it an absolute read for anyone who revels in beautiful writing and elegant storytelling.