French Promise by Fiona McIntosh

The French PromiseA review by Rebecca Muir

The French Promise is a poignant story set in Europe and Australia between 1943 and 1965. It follows the story of Luc Ravens and his family as they seek to make a life for themselves after the Second World War. It is the sequel to The Lavender Keeper. I have not actually read the earlier book but I was able to pick up the story without any trouble.

Luc has been carrying around guilt and hurt ever since he left France. From his experiences during the war to his grief at the murder of his family at the hands of the Nazis, Luc has been left scarred. He longs to return to France, and yet the time is not right.

His wife, Lisette, is also carrying guilt and hurt. However, she is determined to hold their family together, for the sake of their young son Harry. Knowing that Luc will never find peace in England, she instigates a move to Tasmania where Luc can once again become a lavender farmer.

They carve out a new life for themselves but the past still needs to be dealt with. Amid new joys and new struggles, Luc must come to terms with the past. To what lengths should he go to do so? Are there some things best left in the past? Will he find healing, or only more hurt?

The French Promise is a heart breaking and poignant book. The hurts and grief Luc and his family have experienced are terrible and very moving. However, it is also an uplifting and compelling book. There is hope amid the grief and love amid the heartache. It is a book about the importance of family and an exploration of what family actually is. The family ties in the book are varied – for one character, the tie to the father he never met is important and defining. For others, ties to those not of blood are just as important as those of blood relatives.

Once you are past the prologue, it is a sad book but not a depressing book. The characters are engaging and the story line is compelling. I enjoyed the book and will definitely look for more of Fiona McIntosh’s work.