It’s the perfect hideaway.
Until he finds her…..
[ About the Book ]
No one else knows what happened that summer. Or so she believes . . .
Grace first came to France a lifetime ago. Young and full of dreams of adventure, she met two very different men.
She fell under the spell of one. The other fell under hers.
Until one summer night shattered everything . . .
Now, Grace is living an idyllic life with her husband, sheltered from the world in a magnificent Provençal villa, perched atop a windswept cliff.
Every day she looks out over the sea – the only witness to that fateful night years ago.
Until a stranger arrives at the house. A stranger who knows everything…
[ My Review ]
The House on the Edge of the Cliff is the latest novel by Carol Drinkwater and it is an absolute pleasure to be part of the blog tour, with my review for you all today. Just published with Michael Joseph, it is described as ‘an epic story of enduring love and betrayal, from Paris in the 1960s, to the present day.’ The House on the Edge of a Cliff is a very seductive book, drawing the reader right in from the opening pages. Set off the coast of the Mediterranean, overlooking glittering and scented landscapes, The House on the Edge of the Cliff is a coming-of-age story, a love story, a novel laced with passion and dripping with guilt, a wonderful tale. It is a dual timeline novel that takes us on a journey from the student protests of the late 1960s in Paris to the present day in the South of France.
Grace, young, with a pocket full of dreams, arrives into Gare du Nord train station in Paris. With no plan, sixteen year old Grace wants to escape her life at home, leaving the heated domestic disputes between her parents far behind her. It’s 1968. Paris is alive and exciting and Grace is ready to have a grand adventure. On her very first day she meets a dashing young man, Peter Soames. He senses in Grace that she is lost and alone, so he sorts out accommodation for her with his family. His father works for the British Embassy and his mother is a socialite with her own issues and demons. Their apartment can easily accommodate Grace and she is in awe when she sets foot inside the doors. Peter’s family have a house maid, Peter’s family have money, living the kind of life that Grace could only ever have dreamed of.
Caught up in the excitement of her newfound freedom, Grace jumps head first into this wonderful summer in Paris, relishing ever single moment, as Peter introduces her to a whole new world. Peter is a romantic, an idealist, he is a student of the Sorbonne with ambitions for his future and for others in society. 1968 was the year when Paris, and eventually France, came to a standstill, as student protests escalated into a mass dispute between de Gaulle’s government and the French working folk, with over 10 million workers eventually going on strike. Grace and Peter become embroiled in the protests, with Carol Drinkwater bringing their enthusiasm, which quickly turned to panic and fear, alive for the reader. The portrayal of this period takes you right into the streets of Paris, with the smells and the noises emanating from the narrative adding to the sense of terror and confusion that was rampant on the streets of the capital at that time.
In an attempt to escape the madness, Grace and Peter make the trip across France to the coast of Provence, to the home of Peter’s artistic aunt, Agnes. Agnes’s home is set, literally, on the edge of a cliff, with spectacular views overlooking the bay, not far from Marseille. Grace is yet again in awe of where she is. Her relationship with Peter has moved on and life for Grace is just perfect. Agnes is a free-spirit, sensing the youthfulness in Grace, but she welcomes her into her home and Grace settles in amidst the enchanting scent of lavender and broom, ecstatic with her surroundings.
The book opens in the present day, many years later, in the same house on the edge of the cliff. Grace and Peter are there, spending family time with children and grandchildren when something happens, something that impacts Grace to the core. A memory resurfaces and Grace is dragged back to that summer in 1968, that summer when her life altered beyond her wildest dreams. Now with a family to protect, Grace is frightened. Can she prevent the past crashing into this perfect world they have created? Will the mistakes of her youth finally catch up with her?
Carol Drinkwater paints a picture with her language and narrative invoking all your senses. The House on the Edge of the Cliff is packed with stunning scenery that will make you long for warmer climes but it is also laden with menace. There is a sense of the unknown throughout as you attempt to make sense of the chronology of events as they unfold.
Using real-life events, such as the Paris revolt of ’68 and also mentioning Brexit, Carol Drinkwater writes bringing a sense of authenticity to her story. I was swept up in the anger of the protests. I was enamored with the clifftop views, the scents and the sun glinting on the sparkling French coastline. I could smell the sweet, heady flowers but I could also smell the fear, the intoxication, and the sense of remorse that radiated off Grace as she looks back at a past that has finally returned to haunt her. What should have been a wondrous coming-of-age experience for Grace, as an innocent and naive sixteen year old in the 1960s, became instead an ever-present memory, a companion that sat beside her, always in the shadows…..until now.
The House on the Edge of the Cliff is an incredibly atmospheric novel, one that completely immerses it’s reader between the pages as Grace’s story slowly unveils itself. It is a romance. It is a mystery. It is a beguiling and appealing book filled with passion and suspense, with betrayal and obsession. It’s an homage to the country that Carol Drinkwater is lucky enough to call home…
[ Bio ]
Carol Drinkwater is a multi-award-winning actress who is best known for her portrayal of Helen Herriot in the BBC television series All Creatures Great and Small.
Her quartet of memoirs set on her olive farm in the south of France have sold over a million copies worldwide and her solo journey round the Mediterranean in search of the olive tree’s mythical secrets inspired a five-part documentary film series, The Olive Route.
She is also the author of novels The Forgotten Summer, The Lost Girl and The House on the Edge of the Cliff.
She lives in the south of France where she is writing her next novel.
Twitter – @Carol4OliveFarm