Beyond the Lavender Fields Synopsis
Gilles Étienne, a clerk at a soap factory in Marseille, France, thrives on the rumors of revolution in France. Committed to the cause of equality, liberty, and brotherhood, he has joined the local revolutionary group. But then he meets Marie-Caroline Daubin, the beautiful daughter of the owner of the factory. She causes him to begin rethinking what equality, liberty, and brotherhood really mean.
A bourgeoise and a 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. When 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 also begins to question her beliefs and how French society should change or not change.
As the revolution gains ground in Marseille, frequent clashes lead to killings, ransackings and arson throughout the city. Gilles must choose whether he will continue to support the political change he believes in or protect 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 in a world that forces people to choose sides.
Beyond the Lavender Fields Review
Beyond the Lavender Fields is a novel set in the time of the French Revolution. Like most revolutions the times are dangerous, bloody, and deadly. Author Arlem Hawks sets the stage and conveys the setting without writing in detail of blood and gore.
This story primarily focuses on Gilles Étienne and his transformation from ardent revolutionary to recognizing that equality and liberty might not be quite what he has learned from his fellow revolutionaries.
Gilles introduction to Marie-Caroline is not at all a romantic, and she does not let him forget it throughout the story. While their relationship is central to the story, it is not a typical romantic development. Instead, it is a more intellectual and philosophical relationship as they question and challenge each other’s views and positions.
Ms. Hawks tells the human story of the French Revolution well. If you are not familiar with late 18th-century France, Beyond the Lavender Fields is a good place to start. I enjoyed her thoughtful story that shares the history from so many points of view.
About the Author
Arlem Hawks began making up stories before she could write. Living all over the western United States and traveling around the world gave her a love of cultures and people and the stories they have to tell. She has a bachelor’s degree in communications, with an emphasis in print journalism, and she lives in Arizona with her husband and three children.
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