Looking for a fun little piece of historical fiction? Look no further!
When Abi finds herself in need of some time to heal, she decides on a yoga retreat in rural France. Soon, however, she ends up taking a summer job at a château with a long history. As she herself recovers, she learns the story of another brave young woman from long ago...
Under the threat of war, young Eliane occupies herself with tending to the gardens and beehives at Château Bellevue. It is here that she finds, and then loses, love. Circumstances lead her to join the Resistance as France finds itself engulfed by the war and under German occupation.
As is the case with many pieces of historical fiction, this story is told from two viewpoints in two different time periods. And as is the case with the best of them, this one does a great job of meshing the two all the way to the very end. A definite must read if you're a fan of the genre!
This is a beautifully written novel with lovely descriptions:
'But their personalities fitted together as snugly as the two halves of a walnut in a shell'; 'He held out a sun-browned hand as broad and strong as a bear's paw, but she noticed that, despite his bulk, he moved with an easy, animal grace.'; 'At the top of the ridge she emerged into the autumn sunrise, which would soon evaporate the river's night-time blanket and reveal the mill house to the day'; 'a touch as gentle as the brush of a butterfly's wing and as strong as a promise that had no need of words.'
A tale of war in France for Eliane and her family, surviving the invasion of the Germans in the 1940s and the present day recovery of Abi after a terrible marriage and dreadful accident. None of it overstated and their experiences retold so well.
My first novel by Fiona Valpy but not my last.
Many thanks to Netgalley/Amazon Publishing for a digital copy of this novel. All opinions expressed are my own.
Happy belated Pub Day to The Beekeeper’s Promise 🐝, which came out yesterday! 🎉 I was fortunate enough to be able to read this book through @netgalley so thank you to both them & @amazonpublishing for making that happen in exchange for an honest review. 🤗
The Beekeeper’s Promise is a story about love and persistence in the face of evil and alternates between two female narrators in two different time frames. Abi is a young woman in 2017 trying to recover from a horrific past and Eliane is a girl trying to survive Nazi-occupied France during WWII. Fiona Valpy intertwines both characters and their stories to spin an enjoyable read. I especially loved the imagery of the French countryside that Valpy was able to paint with her words. Overall a good summertime read which reminded me a little bit of The Nightingale. ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
I thought the previous book that I had read by this author was amazing but this just took my breath away. I loved everything about it, the heart tugging storyline, the era, the style of writing, what more can i add. A massive hit. Thanks to the publisher, author and Netgalley for giving me the opportunity to read this fantastic book.
“In the midst of winter, I found that there was within me and invincible summer.” (Albert Camus)
This was a gorgeous story of the ability to go forward against adversity when you feel that it has consumed you. It was a story of resiliency in the face of disaster. It was a story of learning about the past, which often can give one courage for the future.
Abi Howe is a broken woman. She is reeling from a marriage gone bad, feelings held inside that have made her believe that she does not deserve love, and the idea that what she is within is somehow of little value. While on a yoga retreat, she meets a young couple who offer her a job at their lovely home which was formerly the Chateau Bellevue. Abi decides that she will take this job and hopefully find a way to heal both her body and soul. Little does she realize what she will learn about the Chateau, the people who lived there, and the ability it will give her to finally see herself as someone worthwhile and cherished.
The Chateau has been a witness to history, particularly in regard to World War 2 when it as overtaken by the Nazis. As the author takes us back to that time, we meet Eliana Martin who tended the bees in the chateau. It is here that she meets and falls in love with Mathieu. However, the war comes bringing with it tragedy and darkness which envelopes them and their community changing everything for this young couple.
Separated from Mathieu , Elaina makes a choice to become part of the French Resistance along with her family and many of the townspeople. She and they risked their lives to free France of their evil conquerors and return to the world they held most dear.
Abi is mesmerized by Eliane’s story. She is moved by the valor and courage shown by this woman and through that comes an understanding of knowing that “we are stronger than we think we are.” Abi awakens to her ability to be strong, to be able to enjoy the world that surrounds her, and to be the person she has always wanted to be.
This story was beautiful in its telling. From the characters to the setting, it had the ability to make the events real, to make the reader understand that we all possess strength, and that the future can be approached with joy no matter what we have faced when we have the courage to do so.
Life isn’t about waiting for the storm to pass… It’s about learning to dance in the rain.
Thank you to Fiona Valpy, Lake Union Publishing, and Net Galley for providing this reader with an advanced copy of this lovely story.
Publishing on May 16, 2018
Thank you NetGalley and Lake Union Publishing for the eARC.
This was a lovely read, I really enjoyed it a lot.
We get the story of two characters: Eliane, just before and during WWII in France and Abi, a young English woman who is in France in 2017. Both stories are told in alternating chapters and flow beautifully. Eliane was my favorite, a although Abi is quite likeable too.
Both women have tremendous challenges to overcome; very different, but psychologically and physically just as difficult to bear. Abi hears Eliane's story but by bit, every day a little, which comforts her and helps her overcome what I would call her PTSD.
The surroundings are lovingly described, you are there as you're reading and I have a newfound admiration for bees. I will never take eating honey for breakfast for granted again and feel so lucky I get my honey locally from a beekeeper.
The wartime part of the book was so sad, no matter how many times we hear the stories, they never get easier. But the strength of Eliane and her family and the way they manage to survive with courage and honor is inspiring and uplifting. As is Abi's story. Wonderful book!
My first book from this author and happy to say I thoroughly enjoyed it . Set between ww2 France and current day this tells the story of two ladies and their courage and strength. I particularly loved the story of Eliane in ww2. . 4 stars and an author I will definitely be loooking for in the future . Thanks to tbc reviewers for my chance to read
Initially it was the cover the caught my eye, but what a great read this was. I am not usually fond of stories that switch from past to present, but this was one of those books whereby it worked well. I seldom write what a story is about, as i prefer one to read the book for themselves. I will say that this is a wonderful book to read and do highly recommend it. Wished i could give more than five stars.
My thanks to Netgalley and the Publishers for my copy.
A lovely story that switches between a young Eliane as war was declared in France and Abi in present day who has faced her own life challenges and is back on the road to recovery with both her mental and physical scars healing.
I found myself drawn into this story quickly with the story being told of both young ladies and the battles they have both survived living in the same home so many years apart. The story was descriptive and the scene was set really well enabling you to visualise the area both in 1939 and modern day.
It highlights the dangers of being part of the resistance during WW2 whilst living in an area occupied by Germany and the lengths Eliane's family and other families were prepared to go to in order to aid the resistance in overturning Germany.
I really enjoyed this book and the style in which it was written, a brilliant story set in a beautiful location
Great book. I usually don't like books that flip flop between past and present or first tense but this worked as a combination of the two. It was very easy to get invested in Elianne and her family. I was a little surprised by how little brutality the book showed considering the time. It seems like the family got off very easily, especially considering they would have likely been picked out as collaborateurs for being in the chateau with the Germans even if it wasn't by choice. It made it a little less realistic for me. Other than being a little dream-like in it's presentation there was good world building and reasonable character descriptions.
In Fiona Valpy's "The Beekeeper's Promise," we meet Abi Howes takes a summer job in rural France at the Château Bellevue. Abi learns about an earlier resident of the chateau, In 1938 Eliane Martin, a brave young beekeeper who joins the Resistance. Readers who loved Kristin Hannah's "The Nightingale" will surely love this one also.
A very beautiful and emotional, and absolutely story. I love how the author takes time to describe everything and in turn it creates beautiful image in the mind of readers.
I really enjoyed this book. It invoked so many lovely images of summer, I could image myself sitting under the acacia tree by the river with Eliane and watching her bees busying around the cottage garden.
The dual story line worked extremely well. Valpy managed to pace the two stories, interchanging the drama from one story to another. This gave me time to consider the things that were happening to each character, which helped me engage with their stories. I find stories that never take a breather with the emotional, the horror, the drama rather jarring to read. This balanced it perfectly.
I found some of the Chateau scenes in Abi's story too long, the minute of getting it ready for the weddings just dragged and I found myself skipping sections. I suppose it was cathartic for her to do those things but I didn't feel the need to be part of it with her! Sometimes the dialogue felt stilted and I would have liked the author to expand on the Jean-Luc character and how he could have helped Abi trust love again.
The historical sections in Occupied France during the war were well researched and realistic, You could tell the author had spent time in France and loved it there, the passion for the country shone through. I loved how the bees were woven into the story of Eliane and they were used to move the story through the seasons and give Eliane a reason to be at certain places and experience conversations.
I'm not sure the author is completely comfortable with writing about love. The scenes with Eliane and Matthieu were sweet and childlike but then they got split apart during the occupation. The 'love' between her and Jacques was suddenly thrust upon us in the tunnels and there was little back story to get us to that point. And Abi and Zak's relationship was so toxic, are we led to believe that Abi was so weak she went into the relationship with Zak even after feeling something was off about him when they first met? I appreciate that the author has written the part about Zak's coldness for us the reader to know something is going to be wrong but writing it in the first person narrative means that Abi is thinking it too. It felt unnatural and unrealistic. Maybe it would have worked better if the author had written Zak how Abi saw him and worked his cruelty in later after we had seen what she saw in him.
I would recommend this book to be read during the summer months, out in the garden under the shade of a beautifully scented tree, with a glass of something very cold, full of chinking ice cubes and hopefully with a few bees buzzing around. And if you are really lucky, read it in one sitting.
Beautiful and moving novel that moves between the stories of Abi in 2017 modern day France and Eliane during the World War 2 occupied France.
Both women are fighting their own personal battles, with the France in both timelines brought vividly to life as the stunning backdrop to their heartbreaking and emotional tales.
A fantastic 5 star read that I highly recommend.
It definitely sounded like my kind of book – I am always interested to read about ordinary people during World War II, often contemplating what would I have done, had I been in the situation? Of course, being set in France there was an added interest for me, as I live in France, although not in the area in which the story is based.
I have to say, I loved it! I finished it in about three days, as I found it difficult to put down – in fact, I was reading until half past midnight last night, because I wanted (and didn’t want!) to finish it. It is well written; perhaps not with the same lyrical prose as Patrick Gale (another of my five star authors) but there were certainly enough beautifully written passages to make me pause to enjoy reading them. The author writes with a real sense of place and she made me believe that such a place as Coulliac exists; I could imagine the village, the chateau, the moulin. She obviously loves France, and this shines through her writing.
The characters too were believable – perhaps some of the German soldiers were a little too nice, but there must have been many decent people in the army, who despised what they were being ordered to do, so presumably there were officers who were sympathetic towards the French people. I also liked the fact that these weren’t great heroic Resistance fighters, but ordinary people doing their little bit towards the opposition of their invaders. I liked both main characters very much, and I had no real preference towards the present day story, or the wartime narrative. Both were sympathetically written, and I very much liked the thread of bees that ran through the story.
While I had a reasonably good idea of how the story was going to end, and how the two narratives would be drawn together, there was enough suspense to keep it interesting.
All in all, I would thoroughly recommend this book, and, like the other reviewers on Net Galley, I give it five stars. I would be interested in reading other books by the same author.
This is the type of story I love, one that interweaves past and present and tells the story of ordinary women in extraordinary times. Abi Howes vows to leave her broken heart behind as she takes a job in France at the Chateau Bellevue. There she learns of Eliane Martin, the gardener who cared for the Chateau’s ground in the late 1930’s. Eliane has fallen in love with beekeeper, Mathieu, but war is on the horizon and the two lovers are separated. As the Nazi occupation spreads, Eliane has to wonder just how much she knows the man she loves, and if she can trust him
Another great book by an author who knows how to bring her characters alive!!
The descriptions of France both now and during WW2 were amazing. There are so many strong believable characters throughout the book and each have their rightful position.
A story of survival, determination as well as the struggle to find and keep your own identity.
A book that is full of passion and has left me wanting to read more from this author.