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Book Review

Publisher's Note:

1792, France Rumors of revolution in Paris swirl in Marseille, a bustling port city in southern France. Gilles Etienne, a clerk at the local soap factory, thrives on the news. Committed to the cause of equality, liberty, and brotherhood, he and his friends plan to march to Paris to dethrone the monarchy. His plans are halted when he meets Marie-Caroline Daubin, the beautiful daughter of the owner of the factory. A bourgeoise and royalist, Marie-Caroline has been called home to Marseille to escape the unrest in Paris. She rebuffs Gilles's efforts to charm her and boldly expresses her view that violently imposed freedom is not really freedom for all. As Marie-Caroline takes risks to follow her beliefs, Gilles catches her in a dangerous secret that could cost her and her family their lives. As Gilles and Marie-Caroline spend more time together, she questions her initial assumptions about Gilles and realizes that perhaps they have more in common than she thought. As the spirit of revolut…

Overall Book Review:

Experience the passion and peril of the French Revolution in Beyond the Lavender Fields, a well-crafted romance by Arlem Hawks. Hawks paints a vivid picture of eighteenth-century Marseille, with descriptive settings, solid characters, and the feelings of uneasy and tension due to political unrest. Lots of French terms are sprinkled throughout the novel, giving the story an air of authenticity (a glossary is included at the end of the book). Determined heroine Marie-Caroline and her thoughtful love interest Gilles show great depth and personality. These main characters’ beliefs and feelings shift throughout the book due to their shared experiences and the heartbreaking circumstances of war. Readers will enjoy the parts of the story told by letters, as each missive is beautifully crafted and poetic. Beyond the Lavender Fields is not only entertaining, but contains timely messages about how to have healthy relationships with those who have different political views. Highly recommended!

Content Analysis:

Profanity/Language: None

Violence/Gore: Several implied occurrences of violence and verbal threats including tying a noose, naval battle, mention of death by guillotine; frequent reports of secondhand violence including riots and murder, storming the royal palace, massacre, wounded by bayonet; a brief scene of violence when a character is pushed hard; a few brief scenes of property destruction include breaking down the door to characters’ residence and starting a house fire.

Sex/Nudity: Several incidents of kissing; a few sexual references.

Mature Subject Matter:

Death of loved ones, hiding a fugitive, riots, death by guillotine, civil unrest, talk of harassment and making verbal threats, smuggling, theft, mention of battle.

Alcohol/Drug Use:

Talk of an alehouse; a character is drunk; characters meet to ‘have drinks’; a man is described as ‘severely inebriated’, a scene takes place at a tavern; wine is used for cleaning a wound.

Overall Book Rating
Profanity/Language
Rating:
10
Violence/Gore
Rating:
2
10
Sex/Nudity
Rating:
2
10

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About the Reviewer

My mother was the one who sparked my love of books. Long before school instruction, she sat me down and taught me to read. My childhood was filled with trips to the library and bookmobile to find great books. My first loves were The Little House series by Laura Ingalls Wilder and the Pippi Longstocking series by Astrid Lingren. Now as a mom and speech pathologist, I am constantly looking for good, clean books to use at home and in therapy. I enjoy reading many different genres, but my favorites are usually historical fiction. I married my best friend, the “boy next door”, and we have a beautiful little girl who we often find sprawled out on the floor, flipping through picture books. Together our family likes to swim, run and play tennis. Besides reading, I also love to bake, garden and travel.