This is the life story of VIOLETTE, an orphan, who in 1985 at 17-yrs-old was easily charmed by PHILIPPE TOUSSAINT (10 yrs older). They moved in together, got married (much to his parents' "disgust"), then lost their jobs in 1997 to "automation" and took a job further south in Burgundy, France as CEMETERY-KEEPERS - a huge change from city life to country life.
From the very start, I became absorbed by the beautiful writing style. The story literally "UNFOLDS" from chapter to chapter. A lover of all things FRANCE and fascinated with CEMETERIES, the book was an immediate and perfect fit for me.
It's a TRAGIC story really, yet it's also a LOVE STORY (or two or three), and there's a mystery to be solved that doesn't leave you hanging at the end. Each of the CHARACTERS has his/her place and as the story GENTLY UNFOLDS, the characters develop slowly with it. I LOVED the author's pace of her story-telling.
The CHARACTERS struggle with self-worth, loss, unanswered questions, and uncertain love - often with long periods of time in-between. As I did, YOU may LITERALLY FEEL THEIR torment, hope, love, anticipation, regret, and resolve as you move through this story.
Some examples of VALERIE PERRIN's lovely and descriptive writing style:
My present life is a present from Heaven. As I say to myself every morning, when I open my eyes.
If a flower grew every time I thought of you, the earth would be one massive garden.
You must learn to be generous with your absence to those who haven't understood the importance of your presence.
"Personally, I think inheritance shouldn't exist. I think we should give everything to the people we love while we're alive. Our time and our money. Inheritances were invented by the Devil, to make families tear themselves apart. I only believe in donations while one is alive. Not in the promises of death."
"When I was young, I wanted to do like everyone else, I got married. And there's a bloody stupid mistake, an idiotic idea: doing like everyone else."
"I'm dysfunctional, broken. Love is impossible for me. I'm unbearable to live with. More dead than the ghosts lurking in my cemetery. Haven't you understood that? It's impossible."
"Father, people need to sin, or your confessional would be empty. Sin is your stock-in-trade. If people had nothing more to be ashamed of, there would be no one in the pews of your church."
And the phrase that most DEEPLY RESONATED with me -
The death of a mother is the first sorrow one weeps over without her.
I absolutely LOVED this book and know it will stay with me for quite a while.