Rumors of revolution in Paris swirl in Marseille, a bustling port city in southern France. Gilles Étienne, 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 revolution descends on Marseille, people are killed and buildings are ransacked and burned to the ground. Gilles must choose between supporting the political change he believes in and protecting those he loves. And Marie-Caroline must battle between standing up for what she feels is right and risking her family’s safety. With their lives and their nation in turmoil, both Gilles and Marie-Caroline wonder if a révolutionnaire and a royaliste can really be together or if they must live in a world that forces people to choose sides.
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Beyond the Lavender Fields is one of the best books I've read this year! Characters Marie-Caroline and Gilles are at odds with each from chapter one. One believes in the revolution and the other in the monarchy. The characters beliefs evolve through out the story as they see how the revolution brings change to their country, friends and family. For me their development was near excellent. I do wish that there was a little bit more focus at the beginning showing why each supported their cause so strongly, especially Gilles. Plot The narrative is driven primarily by the characters but the external and internal conflict is woven brilliantly with the development of the characters that it is hard to put the book down. Themes The novel explores political extremism and the possibility of finding common ground with those whom disagree with each other. Other themes explored are the cost of liberty and duty to country vs family. Overall: This is a wonderful historical fiction novel. I was given the opportunity to read an advanced reader copy via Net Galley. The opinions expressed in this review are my own.
4.5 Stars!! This book was so great. The Setting I know very little about the French Revolution; however, the author did a great job explaining the setting and the world around the characters in a way that someone like me (with limited knowledge of the French Revolution) can catch on pretty quick to the setting. The writing was beautiful. Imagining the the characters and scenes was easy, and the author paints such a beautiful settings. The Plot I feel like this book is more character centered than plot centered (which is what I personally prefer), so the characters really did the work of moving the plot. This is a story less about the French Revolution and more about how people lived through it. The Characters The characters were so wonderfully written!! Each had their own motives and questions. It is very rare that I read a book and I feel like each and every character is more than a two-dimensional figure there to simply advance the story, but this book delivered in so many ways. I loved how Gilles and Caroline respected each others' thoughts and opinions. I love how Caroline explains their love: "not a fiery passion that consumes us both, but a mutual respect and unspoken attraction". (how lovely is that??. I also want to mention how much I loved Gilles' mother's character. She is such a strong and brave woman, and I loved it every time she was on page. Other Thoughts I love how the characters show grief and loss. One of my favorite quotes from the book is "how dare the world keep on existing as before, when all our light has been snatched away?" The author really blew me away with the characters' feelings. I subtracted 0.5 stars from the overall rating because I felt the book lagged a little in the beginning. At around the halfway point it really picked up, and I could hardly put it down!
Beyond the Lavender Fields is the story of Gilles, a clerk at a soap making shop in Marseilles in 1792, and Marie-Caroline, the shop owner's daughter. The French Revolution has began, and The Troubles are starting, with the guillotine making its introduction into the world. Marie-Caroline has returned to Marseilles to escape the unrest in Paris. She is a loyal royalist, and Gilles is a Jacobin (a club of revolutionaries), making them on opposite ends of the political spectrum. I really enjoyed this book. The characters had a chance to grow and learn. They had to deal with chaos, grief, and danger. They also had to question what they thought they knew. The time period for the entire novel is over the course of several months so the entire French Revolution is not covered, and if you are familiar with that part of history, you'll know that it takes many years for the wars to end and life to return to a semblance of normalcy. This story is about the characters, not the Revolution. The book's main theme is on people learning to live in harmony even when they have widely different beliefs, in this case political and religious beliefs. Both Gilles and Marie-Caroline believe they are right, and they have to learn to understand the other's viewpoint even though they don't share it. This is a timely book in view of today's political and social landscape. The novel shows the extremist of both sides and the damage they cause. How Gilles and Marie-Caroline learn to see the other despite their differences is something we all need to consider. A minor theme running throughout the book is the treatment of women. Gilles and his comrades treat them as playthings. Marie-Caroline refuses to be treated that way. Conversations with her and several other character, including Gilles' mother and father, cover the respect women should be given as fellow human beings. This is not a treatise on feminism, equality, or suffrage, but rather on women being respected and respecting themselves. Neither theme is very subtle. At times, it seemed a little preachy. That's really the only thing that keeps me from giving it a five star review. The author did an excellent job of conveying the horror of the times - people dragged from their homes and executed simply because they disagreed with the opinion of the people in power. Houses and businesses burned to the ground after being looted by the "oppressed" mob of peasants. Employees turning against employers and spying on them, even employers who paid a fair wage and cared for them when they were sick. Priests and the religious were persecuted, either killed or driven from France. Lessons that we seem to never learn. Family friendly. While violence is referred to, it is rarely shown and no executions are detailed. This is a romance but quite chaste. An excellent book for our times. Read and enjoy!
BEYOND THE LAVENDER FIELDS by ARLEM HAWKS is a well researched novel which takes place in Marseille in 1792 during the French revolution. The cry for liberte, egalite et fraternite is drowning out the horrors that are being perpretated by revolutionaries, consisting of the Jacobins and the sans-culottes. Gilles Etienne is a member of the Jacobin Club and his employer’s daughter, Marie-Caroline Daubin, is an avid royalist. Their friendship starts off on a teasing note but things get very dangerous when Martel, Gilles’ Jacobin “friend”, suspects both of them and also looks down on Gilles for not joining the fighting in Paris with his brother Maxence and friend Emile Daubin. it is a time full of senseless killing and bloodlust, showing a certain hypocrisy as the revolutionaries, in their search for freedom from oppression from the arisros, end up taking away the choice of others. In fact Gilles’ mother says “Will my sons be caught up in taking away the choice of others, all for the cause of liberty”, and “But are you really going to defend la patrie, or are your leaders sending you to defend their Club’s hold in the government? I like the characters, especially Gilles and Caroline, whose changing emotions and conflicting convictions are well brought out. Although both of them belong to bourgeois families, Gilles’ works at the Daubin’s savonnerie, where he keeps coming across his boss’s rather aristocratic daughter, while his father is a privateer on his ship, le Rossignol. I am not going to tell you any more as I do not want to spoil things for you. The story is not only exciting but also reminds us of the depravity of human nature and that “ doing what is right is more important than who is right. I highly recommend this novel as a most enjoyable read. I was given a free copy of the book by NetGalley from Shadow Mountain Publishing.The opinions in this review are completely my own.
I found the first 1/3 of the book slow-going but it started picking up by the half mark and the rest was much more engaging. It's an interesting time period in which to set these characters who hardly have anything in common in the beginning. Gilles and Marie-Caroline have opposite beliefs and political opinions, but as the social unrest climbs in their town, they find they're not so different after all. I liked their friendship and mutual respect, and how they were able to see past their differences. I received a copy from the publisher via NetGalley and this is my honest opinion.
“My brother and yours, they do not apologize for their actions,” she said. Before he could dip into a gracious bow, one of her brows twitched. “Perhaps there is a spark of hope that the little brother will grow up to be the better man.” I promised myself I would not binge read this book. I would take my time. I would relish the masterful characterization and rich history I knew to expect from Arlem Hawks. And then I promptly kept reading because this is Arlem Hawks after all. How am I supposed to put this book down? She killed it, you guys. This story is *infinite chefs kisses* Accepting his friend’s bet to kiss the girl waiting in his boss’ office leaves Gilles Étienne mortified. And when attempting to get back in her good graces proves to be near impossible, he hardly expects that this is the beginning of one of the most challenging and beautiful friendships he would ever experience. Caroline is equally astonished when her brother’s obnoxious friend who failed in his attempt to steal a kiss the first time they met, succeeds in stealing her heart, instead. “Gilles. Who always follows his brother in everything—giving up life at sea, pursuing medical school, joining the Jacobins, playing their kissing games. I can hardly believe it.” Gilles’ character development was downright heartwarming. The story arc took him from a careless boy to a thoughtful young man. In a world where there exists more division than reconciliation; where disagreeing with someone's politics can make you a lifelong enemy; where associating with the wrong people can cost your life—and theirs, he finds himself longing for more. “Can we call ourselves good men if we cannot be civil toward our enemies?” In many ways, Beyond the Lavender Fields, spoke to today's issues—perhaps because history does have a tendency to repeat itself—where it often feels like we are unable to have heartfelt conversations from opposite sides of the table. Gilles and Caroline learn that for them, what is most important is not where they stand politically, but that they can see past that and build bridges to the hearts of the people on the other side of the issue. The rich and vivid way that Arlem Hawks presented this story, stole my heart within just a few pages. The setting took on its own life and I learned much about the dynamics of the French Revolution without being overwhelmed—testament to the incredible amount of research that went into this story. Five stars just isn't enough for this one🥰
Beyond the Lavender Fields by Arlem Hawks is a stunning historical fiction novel that takes place during the French Revolution. It is divine. I have been a fan of Ms. Hawks is the past, so I was excited to read her new novel. This book has it all: history, romance, suspense, intrigue, revolution, and kept me on the edge of my seat throughout due to several gripping and pivotal moments. I loved the painstaking research that must have taken place to create such a visual feast for the reader. I really felt as if I was there in France in 1792 in the thick of it. The characters were so well-drawn. They were so real, so complex, and had such fantastic qualities that really let each one shine in their own right. The contrast in life stations and circumstances for Gilles and Marie could not have appeared more extreme, yet both yearned for the same things: love, stability, safety, family, faith, purpose, and each felt that they had the “right” path. One for the downfall of the monarchy, the other for a different path for change. I loved that the characters grew, progressed, and changed. I always find it wonderful when there is a positive improvement as the story goes on despite the outward events. I also loved the ending. Just perfect. I will leave the rest of the plot for the reader to discover so that I do not spoil this gem, but let me just say that there were a few tense moments, a few twists, turns, and surprises, and a gripping pace that led me to devour this book in less then two days…and enjoy every minute of it. I cannot recommend this book enough and I have to say that it is truly unique and memorable. Please read this! 5/5 stars Thank you NG and Shadow Mountain Publishing for this wonderful arc and in return I am submitting my unbiased and voluntary review and opinion. I am posting this review to my GR and Bookbub accounts immediately (as of 8/14/21 no BB listing has been created) and will post it to my Amazon, Instagram, and B&N accounts upon publication.
Let me first say that this book caught my eye because I have been to France to see their gorgeous lavender fields, and so I was biased already by the title and the setting. I have always found the French Revolution fascinating in his absolute cruelty and the ability of people to set aside all rational behavior to create mobs that only seek to destroy. And although the monarchy was blind and wasteful, King Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette actually seemed like kind people who were constantly misguided and misinformed by their ministers. So this book was fantastic, because each character had their own opinions (one a monarchist, one a revolutionary), and it was wonderful to see their beliefs and the reasons behind them, while fighting an attraction that turns deeper into love. The author did a good job at showing the violence that occurred to well-meaning people, while keeping the killing and executions off the page (in case that triggered anything for readers). Overall, this was an excellent book that was like a history lesson, but much more fun! I highly recommend it for readers not familiar with the French Revolution, because you will gain knowledge about it, because the author obviously did her research well.
A gripping, luminously researched love story featuring a time period and riveting history too rarely explored in fiction. I will be hosting Arlem for a live Q and A via zoom/FB live on February 24 to help promote the book
What a beautiful story set in a dramatic and heartbreaking time period! I've read a lot of Regency romances, but had not thought about the French Revolution since my AP European History class 18 years ago, so I was not sure what to expect when I was selected as an ARC reader. One of the best and most unique aspects of this book is the way that Hawks utilizes the story's setting as almost a third lead character. The angst and uncertainty of late 18th century France is palpable throughout the story, thanks to Hawks' fantastic research and storytelling. I also thought she did a fantastic job with the character development in the book, especially for Gilles, who starts off as a flirt who blindly follows his friend and brother in their Jacobin zeal. Thanks in large part to his often-contentious encounters with Caroline, Gilles grows as person, as a citizen, and as a man. I really loved that his innate goodness and integrity came shining through when he was faced with difficult decisions and conflicting loyalties. I also loved that he continually showed up for Caroline when she needed him. While I found Caroline's strong-willed ways stressful to read about in certain situations, I admired her faith and her willingness to stand up for what she believed in. I also loved reading about her growing feelings for Gilles in her correspondence with her cousin. I admit, I feel in love with him, too! Overall, this was a beautiful love story inside a well-researched, compelling story. This was my first Arlem Hawks book, but it won't be my last.
I throughly enjoyed this book! It was a different read for me, as I usually read books set in England, but it was interesting and engaging to explore France, especially during the French Revolution. Arlem Hawks' character development is on point, as always. I loved seeing two seemingly opposing characters, each with their own viewpoints about the situation at hand, find each other and come together and repeat each other. Arlem also does such a wonderful job at enveloping you into the history of the time period being presented. I could feel myself there, engaging with the events and the characters. Giles and Caroline are lovable characters. Two souls, who on the outside seem vastly different, but once they really get to know each other, they discover that they are not that different after all. I highly recommend this book and I a grateful for NetGalley and Shadow Mountain for the opportunity to read it!!
This was stunning and beautiful. The plot was captivating and engaging to the very end. Many thanks to the author, publisher, and NetGalley for the advanced copy of the book.
This was an interesting book. The French revolution is not something I am super knowledgeable about. I loved how this book brought to light, in a gentle way, the horror of the time, along with some who wanted to make changes, but in a better way. The history along the way of this story was good. The characters were invested in the time, and had to find a way through their differences to make their relationship work. It was a bit slow at the beginning but did pick up in the middle.
A couple of years after the 1789’s revolution in France, politics are still not settled and the Jacobins (the révolutionnaires) are still chasing the royalists, bringing down everyone that crosses their ideals and trying to erase monarchy for good. Gilles Étienne tries to follow his brother’s ideals by being a fierce Jacobin and spread their convictions across the city of Marseille - a nice harbor city, by the way. The thing is, the Jacobins’ ideals are not as pretty as they make them look. Violence is too often used and justice not considered enough. Furthermore, Gilles meets this royalist that came straight from Paris (the capital!) that will soon enough break down his revolutionary's convictions, or at least their ways of applying it. I was so thrilled to get into this historical fiction book, all the more that the French Revolution is something that is not foyer addressed (unlike the Second World War events in Paris) and it is a subject that deserves also some attention (my only reading on the subject his Victor Hugo’s Les Misérables). Also, I find Marseille to be a very attractive and romantic city, so here is another good point. The historical fiction is built around the departure of young Jacobins leaving Marseille to go fight in Paris. Yet I felt that we were not going enough into the details and the whereabouts of the political troubles. The historical situation quickly turned into a romance with flirts and the fear of an impossible love. It scared me in the beginning because I was not here for some teenage romance. It turned out to be mitigated - the book fits as well in the historical fiction category as in the romance one. It kind of disappointed me, because there were these cheesy parts here and there, and we could only be sure of how the situation will turn out. Nonetheless, it was also a great story to witness and the evolution of the relationship between Gilles and Caroline can only be approved. We have some strong friendship values here, and the story really benefited from it. I am a strong friendship supporter and I loved how they showed the importance of human values (kindness, respect, justice, equality) that could rise above violence and nonsense. Beyond the Lavender Fields is an easy read, sometimes frustrating but satisfying. Moreover, it is nice to have a light historical fiction read. Well, I have to admit that I enjoyed it maybe a little bit more because I’m French, but anyway. Vive la France 🇫🇷 Special thanks to Netgalley and Mountain Publishing, Shadow Mountain for sharing a digital copy of this book with me in exchange for an honest review.
"Beyond the Lavender Fields" is a compelling historical fiction novel by talented author Arlem Hawks. Well-researched and rich in historical detail, this riveting read pits Jacobins against Royalists during the French Revolution. While events in this novel precede the Reign of Terror, the seeds of violent revolutionary tactics have been planted. This harrowing time is vividly portrayed; images of senseless executions and destruction of property are shocking. Many believe the end justifies the means. Amid this turmoil, Royalist Marie-Caroline Daubin and Jacobin Gilles Étienne somehow manage to find lasting happiness. I found the resolution highly satisfying. Daubin repeated refrain "I do not want to kiss you" had me smiling every time she said it. Secondary characters are fleshed out as well. Hawks' prose is beautiful and descriptive. Moreover, this book is clean. A few secondary characters deserve their own stories. Thanks to NetGalley and Shadow Mountain Publishing for an ARC of this outstanding novel.
This book wins on all levels. Everything I could hope for in a historical romance has been fulfilled in this book. Striking, soulful, diverse main characters who create a meaningful connection. Witty dialogue, plot suspense, multi-faceted side characters. Well-researched, accurate historical information. I could go on! I thoroughly enjoyed this book. It has depth and shows that it is possible to see past first impressions and political differences. What a beautiful story! One of if not the best book I have ever read that takes place during the French Revolution. Arlem Hawks has sealed a place on my “best authors” bookshelf! I would like to thank the publisher for an eARC of this book through Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.
Beyond the Lavender Fields; Another home run for Arlem Hawks. The stunning historical research alone is 5 star worthy. Very well put together. This one has is all; history, romance, suspense, intrigue, and it does not disappoint The sub characters are well drawn and add to the fullness and quirks of the two main characters. Gilles and Marie-Caroline: so complex! Both had wonderful qualities that let each one shine in their own right. The drastic contrast in life stations and circumstances for Gilles and Marie could not have been more extreme, yet both yearned for the same things: love, stability, safety, family, faith, and a purpose. Both certain that they had the “right” path. One for the downfall of the monarchy, the other for a different path for change. I loved that the characters grew, progressed, and changed. Pick this one up. It does not disappoint. . I received an ARC of this story from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
It’s 1792 in Marseille, France and Gilles Étienne is ready to march to Paris to aid in dethroning the monarchy when he meets Marie-Caroline Daubin, a royaliste and the daughter of his employer. Both are passionate about their beliefs, but as they grow closer, they begin to realize they might actually have more in common than they originally thought. Tensions rise and revolution envelops Marseille. When Gilles discovers a secret that could be the downfall of Marie-Caroline and her family, he must choose whether to support his political beliefs or protect those he has come to love. Can a révolutionnaire and a royaliste be together in a world where sides must be chosen? Though the first quarter of this novel was a bit slow for me, eventually I came to really appreciate the world building and character development that was achieved and ultimately enhanced the rest of the novel. The writing was spectacular and transported me directly to Marseille during the French Revolution. It was thrilling and terrifying to not only be in the midst of so much unrest, but to also be beside two characters like Gilles and Caroline while they navigated their way through the turbulence. I also loved being able to read from both of their perspectives and absolutely loved that Caroline’s point of view was written strictly through letters. I adored witnessing the growth of their friendship despite their differences. The characters themselves were some of the most well-developed I can remember reading. Gilles’ character development in particular was a work of genius and a delight to read. He is a swoon-worthy hero to be sure. Not only were Gilles and Caroline perfectly written, but the secondary characters were just as developed and really made this world come alive. The romance was such a slow burn and oh so wonderful. I love learning about history while reading fiction and felt like I gained a much greater understanding of the French Revolution while reading this story. There were so many amazingly written passages that you just have to experience for yourself! I cannot say enough good things about this novel and hope that you will put it on your TBR as soon as possible because it is a must-read! Beyond the Lavender Fields will be released on February 1, 2022, and I promise you, it is worth the wait!! Content warnings: violence, death, and executions are mentioned but not detailed (I received an eARC from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.)
This book was pretty dense and slow at the start, but the overall writing and storytelling were wonderful. I really enjoyed reading this once we got past the setup of the book.
Beyond the Lavender Fields is a historical fiction set in the time of the French revolution and it's aftermath. This book was amazing, one of my favorites this year. My thanks to NetGalley for this ARC.
Publication date: February 15, 2022 Thank you to NetGalley and the publisher for the opportunity to read and review an advanced reader's copy of this book. This in no way affects my review, all opinions are my own. From the publisher, as I do not repeat the contents or story of books in reviews, I let them do it as they do it better than I do 😸. 1792, France Rumours of revolution in Paris swirl in Marseille, a bustling port city in southern France. Gilles Étienne, 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 revolution descends on Marseille, people are killed and buildings are ransacked and burned to the ground. Gilles must choose between supporting the political change he believes in and protecting those he loves. And Marie-Caroline must battle between standing up for what she feels is right and risking her family’s safety. With their lives and their nation in turmoil, both Gilles and Marie-Caroline wonder if a révolutionnaire and a royaliste can really be together or if they must live in a world that forces people to choose sides. This is a wonderful historical novel about a time that I have not read a lot about ... at least about what was happening outside of Paris. It is a love story as well but not too treacly so it would be enjoyed by book clubs and regular readers alike. I will highly recommend this book to patrons, friends, families and said book clubs alike. I will recommend this book to friends, family, patrons, book clubs, and people reading books in the park as we do … I have had some of my best conversations about books down by the Thames! As always, I try to find a reason to not rate with stars as I simply adore emojis (outside of their incessant use by "🙏-ed Social Influencer Millennials/#BachelorNation survivors/Tik-Tok and YouTube Millionaires/snowflakes / literally-like-overusers etc. ") on Instagram and Twitter... Get a real job, people!) so let's give it 🍟🍟🍟🍟🍟
Thank you to NetGalley, Arlem Hawks, and Shadow Mountain Publishing for this ARC of Beyond the Lavender Fields. My view is my own and I am not being compensated for my review. I requested the ARC because I adore Hawks’ Georgana’s Secret. Beyond the Lavender Fields is sort of a sequel to Georgana’s Secret as it begins in 1792 Revolutionary France with Gilles Êtienne and his lady love, Marie-Caroline Daubin. If you have read Georgana’s Secret, you have already met Gilles Êtienne as he is the HMS Deborah’s curly-haired surgeon. Gilles and Caroline’s story takes place in 1792 Revolutionary France. So, if you want to read chronologically and see what made Êtienne, Êtienne, wait until Beyond the Lavender Fields comes out. I will also say, I’ve gotten an ARC of BtLF and while I do love it, I love Georgana’s Secret more - so if you want to save what I think is the best for last, again, wait until Beyond the Lavender Fields is released. I loved Gilles Êtienne in Georgana’s Secret, so I was thrilled that Hawks decided to write this prequel. Now, as I read through it, I did fall in love with Gilles even more. However, as I read through Beyond the Lavender Fields, I felt as though Hawks was doing a little bit of lecturing to us readers. Maybe it’s just because of the current political climate and that was not Hawks’ intention because Revolutionary France and current America are in scarily similar positions but I have a feeling that people from either side of the political spectrum may read this and feel as though they are being lectured at. Let me get into it a little more: Gilles is a Jacobin révolutionnaire and fights for the elimination of the monarchy and a free France. Marie-Caroline, more commonly known as Caroline, is a royaliste who is a traditionalist. Their meeting and eventual friendship is a tenuous one at best in the beginning. Gilles can’t understand Caroline clinging to the antiquated and oppressive royaliste ideologies and Caroline cannot understand Gilles’ promotion of what she sees as barbarism and anarchy. But, as the story goes on, Caroline’s remarks begin to spring into Gilles’ mind as he faces his révolutionnaire brothers and their appointed tasks. Gilles begins to question whether the révolutionnaire tactics are too much, too barbaric, as Caroline has voiced. He seems to question his ideologies of revolution and progress and Hawks does not have this reciprocated in Caroline. Rather, Caroline keeps this high ground, that her ideologies, the ideologies of tradition, of what she sees as stability, are better for France, and Gilles begins to move further away from his révolutionnaire beliefs. And Gilles’ and Caroline’s relationship continues to blossom even though they have such differences and beliefs and moralities. And here is where I felt as though Hawks was lecturing the reader - sending the message that people should still get along even if they have different ideologies, that our bonds as humans can overcome these differences, and love can blossom. And that révolutionnaire ideologies and tactics are dangerous, something that should be questioned, as Gilles did and moved away from. It feels as though Hawks is pointing to the progressives in the American government - ones, like myself, who want to tear down institutions because the institutions were built on inequitable and unjust principles and these institutions cannot simply be fixed through change but can only be fixed by dismantling them altogether. Literally, in the blurb, it says: “With their lives and their nation in turmoil, both Gilles and Marie-Caroline wonder if a révolutionnaire and a royaliste can really be together or if they must live in a world that forces people to choose sides.” So, did Hawks purposefully write Beyond the Lavender Fields with an agenda in mind to lecture the readers that today, we should not allow our political and ideological differences to come between our fellow man? Or did Hawks, who writes historical romance, just want to write a novel based during the French Revolution and because of the uncanny similarities between 1790s France and 2010s/2020s America, it just happens to come across as lecturing to the reader? I’m not sure where I sit. At some points, I sit further on the “Hawks had an agenda side” and others, I sit more on the “eh, it happens to be about the French Revolution, conditions were similar to what we’re experiencing now so there’s bound to be lots of similarities.” And I think other readers will likely have to grapple with this or some may just make up their mind either way and possibly allow that to hinder their enjoyment of the story. Now, with that out of the way: Hawks builds a masterful story. The characters, the setting, the plot, the detail, everything is so detailed that I felt as though I was walking the streets of Marseille beside Gilles and Caroline in the 1790s. Since I love Georgana’s Secret, like it is one of my favorite books I’ve ever read, I had really high expectations of Beyond the Lavender Fields. I went in knowing I was going to be demanding the same attention to detail, the ability to craft complex and nuanced characters and plot while weaving in accurate and meticulous historical detail that is present in Georgana’s Secret. And Hawks did not disappoint at all on this end. As someone who never really delved deep into French Revolutionary history, I felt as though I was able to swim through what Hawks presented. I learned and I enjoyed learning the history. It didn’t drown me or even bog me down, rather, it enhanced the characters and overall story. However, one other potential problem, while Hawks is incredibly detailed, she does use quite a lot of French. Now, why is this a problem in a historical romance that takes place during the French Revolution? Well, I am guessing that most readers who pick this up are not going to have a background in the French language. As someone who is semi-fluent, I would say that the amount of French sometimes hindered my reading flow as I had to take a few seconds to figure out what was being said. Now, Hawks does usually provide translations somehow, there wasn’t always or immediately so that my reading flow didn’t hiccup. And, I was also reading on a Kindle, meaning I had easy access to a translator and dictionary. If someone reads this in print, I think it will disrupt their reading flow even more and that’s coming from someone who can read, albeit slowly, French (I am no longer fluent). For me, Beyond the Lavender Fields is a four-and-a-half-star read but rounded down to a four-star read for the purposes of this review. I truly enjoyed it, I really, really liked it, loved it even, but I did not love it as much as Georgana’s Secret mainly because I felt I was being lectured to a bit. And because Georgana’s Secret was really superb (it is my favorite trope of a heroine disguised as a boy AND on the high seas so it would be nearly impossible to beat that as Georgana’s Secret is in my top 10 reads of the year and I’ve currently read over 300 books). I will undoubtedly sing the praises of Beyond the Lavender Fields far and wide because it is a five-star book in comparison to other historical romances but just not to Hawks’ own previous work, in my humble opinion. Overall, did I love Gilles and Caroline? Absolutely! I am so thrilled Hawks wrote Gilles’ story as I adored him in Georgana’s Secret. Did I love the detail of everything? Oh, most definitely! It really is a must-read for any historical romance reader, that’s for sure!
This book takes place around the time of the Reign of Terror/French Revolution (aka the be-headings with the guillotine), but in the South of France in Marseille and not in Paris. It also deals with the history of the French National Anthem, the Marseillaise, as it was used by the revolutionary French people as a motivating song, something I didn't know. The love story is between a revolutionnaire, Gilles Etienne, and his boss's daughter, Marie-Caroline, who is a royaliste, a supporter of the French monarchy. I found the historical aspects of this story very intriguing, including the history of the perfume and soap manufacturers. There is a bit of a feel of <i>The Scarlet Pimpernel</i> in this story but no strong similarities, just an overlap of the time periods and dealing with the Reign of Terror, although this book approaches that time period from a different perspective than the Orczy book(s). I really enjoyed the development of the romance between Gilles and Marie-Caroline, as well as their families and friends, along with the hint of piracy, another perspective on the French Revolution, and the setting in Southern France. There is a brief French/English translation of words used in the book at the back, along with pronunciation for the terms and also all the characters' and places names, which is helpful for those unfamiliar with the language. I would've liked to see a little more of a summary/background about the book included in the end material for those unfamiliar with the Marseillaise and the time period. Overall, though, Hawks displays a strong attention to detail, character development, and research in her writing. This is the first book I have read by Hawks, and I thoroughly enjoyed it. I look forward to reading more of her works.
This story was well written and perfectly paced. I haven’t read a book about the French Revolution before, so I was glad to learn more about it. The banter between Marie-Caroline and Gilles was fun and witty. I am not one that visualizes books as movies, but I did this one. I could very well see this book working for the big screen. I also appreciated the French pronunciations in the back of the book! I would definitely recommend this novel to anyone who enjoys historical fiction. Thank you to Net Galley and Shadow Mountain Publishing for this digital arc in exchange for my honest review. #NetGalley #BeyondtheLavenderFields
This is a very well written book set during the French Revolution. The characters are engaging and feel like real people. I love that the author provides views from both sides of the issues. I found that I could agree and disagree with different characters and their actions throughout the book. The book starts a little slowly but it kept my attention and then it really picked up and I could hardly put it down. The end is especially exciting.
After reading the description I was really looking forward to getting this book. I have to admit to being a little disappointed with it. Well at least the first half. The second is much better and if the whole book was as well written I would have given 4 stars. What I did enjoy about the book was the amount of historical detail used. The author obviously put a lot of time into her research and uses it well throughout. I have two main issues with the first half. First is the pacing, it just drags along and the storyline focuses too much on Gilles and Caroline denying their attraction to each other, too many inner dialogues on his part and denial letters on her part. It did Become a little too cheesy after awhile. It interfered with my enjoyment of the budding romance and connecting with the characters. I would have preferred more focus on the Jacobins and the beginnings of. The reign of terror. This brings us to my second issue. In Caroline’s letters to her cousin and Gilles’ inner dialogues we hear about what is happening but not until the second half do we actually experience anything directly. More showing not telling would have Helped the beginning of this book immensely. This all is not to say I didn’t enjoy the book at all because I did. Once the pace picked up with Caroline and Gilles in the action I found the book became a page turner. My recommendation would be to get the book. As you are reading the first half and feel it’s too slow hang in there. You will enjoy the second half immensely. 3 stars. I received an ARC of this book from the publisher Shadow Mountain and net galley. This fact in no way influenced my review.
A beautifully written story by one of my favorite authors!! I love the twists and turns this book takes, in espionage and in the relationship between Gilles and Caroline. Well done!
Going in to this book I knew little about the French Revolution, and wondered if I would be able to follow the story. However, I've loved all of Arlem Hawks' books that I've read, so I was willing to try. I needn't have worried. She weaves the pertinent information seamlessly into the story. I fell in love with the characters as they lived and loved through the challenges of the Revolution. It was not an easy time, there were hard things that reached out and touched many families at this time, but the story was gripping. How could two people from opposite sides - royalist and revolutionary - find common ground, keep their loved ones safe, and maybe, after all of that, find love? Beyond the Lavender Fields is a well told tale that sweeps you off your feet and through the streets of France.
An engaging book that will get you thinking. Have you ever wondered what it would have been like to be living in France during the French revolution? What would it have been like to be part of the upper merchant/Bourgeouise class as the attacks began? What moral or ethical issues would you face if you were part of the working class, the revolutionaries? This story addresses those questions without dwelling on the violence and destruction that France experienced. Gilles is a clerk in a high-end soap factory, saving his wages so he can attend medical school. He does not support the monarchy and its extravagant lifestyle when so many Frenchmen are suffering. He feels a republic without the monarchy is the correct way to govern France, and belongs to the Jacobin group organizing to rid France of the monarchy. Marie-Caroline is the daughter of the owner of the soap factory and a royalist. She feels the monarchy should be retained and that adjustments could be made to address the social issues. Two strong minded people with opposing views. What happens when they begin to see the others view point? What will happen when the violence that has centered in Paris moves into Marseille, where they live? A very engaging story exploring the pulls of belief, ethics, friendship, and caring. Thanks to the publisher and Netgalley for the copy. This is my review and all thoughts are my own.
" in his core, [Gilles] knew he belonged to the sea...the sea had written its vast expanse into his soul...[however, it is ] better to follow in the footsteps of an aspiring physician than in the wake of a smuggler and thieving privateer [like Pere]". Gilles Etienne worked as head clerk for Monsieur Daubin. The proceeds from M. Daubin's savonnerie [soap factory] were diminishing with the steady decline of Marseille's aristocracy in the year 1792. Staying in M. Daubin's good graces would allow Gilles to earn the necessary funds to follow in his brother Max's footsteps and attend medical school in Montpellier. Gilles had recently joined the Jacobins, revolutionnaires determined to dethrone the king and create a republic. "Would Gilles do more for his country by dying or by learning the skills to save lives?" Max Etienne and Emile Daubin, best friends, medical students and die hard Jacobins, often frequented cafes and made wagers on whether one could steal a kiss from a jeune fille. Could Max convince his younger brother Gilles to try to kiss Mademoiselle Daubin, his employer's daughter? According to Mademoiselle Daubin, Gilles's behavior was far from impressive. "[She was not] a piece in a game, a thing to be caught and tallied like a hunting prize." He would not kiss her! Marie-Caroline Daubin had returned to Marseille for her safety. There was unrest in Paris. In epistolary form, in a series of letters to her Parisian cousin, she expressed her loyalty to the crown and church and her innermost longings and secrets. Gilles Etienne, passionate for the cause of freedom, felt that "any idealism can be taken to zealous extremes". Two young people, a royaliste and a revolutionnaire. Gilles's father stated, "You must learn to recognize which battles you can win, and which you must flee...It is not cowardice to be wise." "Beyond the Lavender Fields" by Arlem Hawks is a historical fiction/romance novel set in Marseille and Paris in 1792. Would dethroning the monarchy create a better government with freedom for all? Some families fled, some watched their businesses destroyed, churches repurposed...the collateral damages of war. Against this backdrop, can love prevail? Thank you Callie Hansen, Shadow Mountain Publishing and Net Galley for the ARC in exchange for an honest review.
4.5 This was a wonderfully written and well-researched historical fiction novel set during the French Revolution. I didn't know much about the French Revolution and I felt like Hawks did a great job transporting the reader into this time period. Caroline and Gilles were great characters and I love how their relationship developed throughout the novel. I also loved Gilles' internal struggles and how he realized that things weren't what they first seemed and what he really believed. This book had a bit of a slow start for me, but about halfway things really picked up and it was so hard to put down! The last half was so intense and I wasn't sure how things were going to play out. I loved the ending and overall really enjoyed this book! Would recommend it to fans of historical fiction!
"Beyond the Lavender Fields" was amongst the best books I have read this year and it allowed me to easily get over a "book hungover" from finishing one of my favourite book series just a day before! The book takes begins in September 1792 in Marseille, a port city in the South of France, bordering the Mediterranean Sea. Gilles Étienne, son of a privateer and clerk of a soap-making factory, is thrilled to contribute to the French Revolution's Jacobin Club. He believes in liberty and equality for all and nothing will change is mind. However, there are different ways to bring about change: through violence, or through understanding... And when Gilles meet Marie-Caroline, the daughter of his employer and a fierce monarchist, she makes him realise that the end does not always justify the means, and that marching over Paris and killing thousands of "traitors", and imposing one vision of "freedom" to all is no freedom at all. However, as Gilles and Marie-Caroline's friendship grow into something more, they have to choose what - and who - to believe. And whom to trust. I loved this book from beginning to end: the characters are rich, detailed, vulnerable, strong and credible. Even the secondary characters are well described. The decor is rich and vivid, easily making us imagine what life in Marseille, in the streets, in the harbour, in the lavender fields, look like in 1792. The plot is well-developed and not solely centred on the two protagonists' interactions—we also have insights into the development of the Revolution, on the events abroad, on the revolutionaries' meetings... The use of French words and phrases is absolutely perfect (and I say this as a native French speaker) and really adds something to the book. I also like the book cover and love the title, although I wish there was a bit more references to lavender and lavender fields in the book (we're in Provence after all!)—the lavender field scene is one of my favourites, by the way! Beyond the fiction, the book also gave us food for thought: to what extent can one defend his ideals? and impose it on others? When is violence justified? Is compassion more important to doing "what is right"? Where and how to find common grounds to those who believe differently? Overall, I would therefore highly recommend this book as it did not disappoint! This author is quickly becoming one of my favourites (she often weaves some nautical elements in her books, which I love!). She really writes beautiful, wonderful historic novels.
A beautifully written story of the French revelation in the late 1700’s. I felt the conflict and the heartache of the people affected by the strife and war. There were very sad moments in the book. But there was also love and hope. The characters were real. They had to make hard choices. They were guided by their convictions and there feelings for those that they loved. Gilles was a character I came to love and respect. It took me a bit longer to like Caroline. But I did like her feisty, put you in your place, personality.
This is a clean romance that is set during the French Revolution. I found the political differences of the main characters refreshing, as they have great dialogue and discussions about why each feels the way they do- and the other character tried to understand where they were coming from. This is a fun read.