02 February 2011

Book Reviews in Brief: The Matchmaker of Perigord and Clara & Mr. Tiffany

Oh, the weather outside is frightful, but book reviews are so delightful!  Here are two mini reviews from books I've recently read.

The Matchmaker of Perigord by Julia Stuart. I've rarely encountered a novel that was as charming and fable-like as this one.  Set in the tiny French village of Amour-Sur-Belle, whose inhabitants can only charitably be described as kooky, this is the story of Guillaume, the barber-turned-matchmaker, who rather haplessly tries to bring love to Amour. If you're a fan of Chocolat and an admirer of the diversity found in even the smallest hamlets around the world but that still retain the unique flavor of their region, then this is the perfect novel for you.  

It's not as polished or ambitious as her newer book, The Tower, the Zoo, and the Tortoise, which was one of my favorite books of 2010, but it's still a good read if you enjoy that sense of whimsy.  My sales rep from Harper, Anne DeCourcey, sent me a finished copy of this backlist title at my request. 

Clara and Mr. Tiffany by Susan Vreeland. Vreeland does it again, taking a female character whom art history has relegated to a minor role and creating a wholly believable and full life for her.  Here we have Clara Driscoll, who creates beautiful and innovative glass designs for Louis Comfort Tiffany in fin de siecle New York.  I found the art process behind the making of the stained glass pieces to be endlessly fascinating!  The period detail, as well as the increasing interest in unionized labor and workers’ rights, added to my enjoyment, too.  This is a fairly light read with just enough historical substance to give it a bit of heft.  

This book was published by Random House in January, but I read it in ARC form a few months ago when my sales rep, Michael Kindness, gave me a copy.  

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