Thomas and Beal in the Midi

Pub Date:   |   Archive Date: 14 Jun 2019

Member Reviews

Although a little slow and difficult to start, this novel develops beautifully in the setting of 1890s Paris and then to the wine country of the South of France. Thomas and Beal escape the United States to stay together and live as man and wife in Europe, turning themselves into winemakers.
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This novel moves at the languid pace of a summer day in the South of France.  Its reflections on love, friendship, loyalty and fidelity are presented by the author almost as questions to the reader to be pondered for herself, and then left to the characters to make their own choices.  I came to love Thomas and Beal, not as heroes, but as flawed individuals who were open to change in themselves and each other.

I voluntarily read and reviewed an advanced copy of this book. All thoughts and opinions are my own.
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There’s a luxurious quality to the storytelling in Tilghman’s third Retreat novel, this one set entirely in Europe, mainly in the nineteenth century. Warm, restrained, and as probing as the grapevine roots which spread through the novel’s second half, it’s a fine and immersive read. If there’s a quibble, and there generally is, it’s to do with the psychology of central character Beal whose intense love for her husband doesn’t preclude elaborate dalliances with two other men. There are supporting arguments about love, race, maturity, etc, nevertheless I didn’t buy it. The havering almost seems to be included to give the novel an element of suspense. Otherwise it’s a happy story of emigration and success. And as such a very enjoyable one.
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Lovely writing in this book about a young American mixed race couple who leave the US to live in France in 1892. Paris and the French countryside were beautifully portrayed and I sailed through the story. But the shadow of racism, in both the fictional marriage and in the story is never satisfactorily addressed. And, Beal’s character doesn’t quite meet her potential here.
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An enthralling look into a unique marriage--and a unique time. Wonderfully nuanced, delicately interwoven and always compelling.
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