Sometimes books arrive at just the right moments. Usually I think these books are heady, intellectual numbers that set my thinking straight or give me clarity on the path of life. But in this case, Rosy Thornton’s The Tapestry of Love was neither heady or terribly clarifying; instead, it was simply comforting in the way good fiction can be.
The story is about Catherine, a woman in her 40s who sells her house in England and moves to a rural farmhouse in the mountains of France. She leaves behind her children, her sister, her ex-husband, and begins a tapestry and upholstery business for the locals of the area. In the process of being there, she discovers a great deal about living in that place – including how to make honey and navigate the curvy, curvy roads – about her neighbors, and mostly about herself.
In the process of the book, Catherine addresses her feelings about romance, her feelings toward her sister, and her feelings about her mother’s death. (See “You Poor Little Thing” for my thoughts on the character’s response to her mom’s passing.) All of these inward journeys – as well as Catherine’s retreat to the country – resonate so strongly with me that each day I looked forward to getting into bed where I could read my way back into Les Fenils, Catherine’s house. Thornton’s writing about a woman’s time on her own reminded me a great deal of the way I felt when I read Alice Koller’s Unknown Woman, where another woman takes the time to step into a life that she has created, and the passages about an adult, single woman dealing with her Mom’s death brought my breath up short in their accuracy.
So if you’re in the mood to be touched by the power of solitude, peek a little at some romance, and just enjoy a lovely story, do pick up a copy of Thornton’s newest novel. And if you can, I recommend you read it at your own little place of retreat.