The Lost Carousel of Provence: A Novel. Juliet Blackwell. Penguin Publishing Group. September 2018. 384 pp. ISBN#: 9780451490636.
Cady Drake has spent her whole life yearning so badly for a family, someone to show her love and to affirm that she was a good, deserving person. Tossed from foster homes to group homes for years, Cady’s dream is never fulfilled. However, the need to survive taught her strength and gave her focus on skills that have made her a photographer who is always in demand, albeit not a famous one. Her fascination is for pictures of carousels from anywhere in the world. A need to escape the aftermath of a personal tragedy and the wise, tough and loving advice of a good friend leads Cady to accept a plan from a publisher to photograph as many carousels as possible in Paris, France. Readers will learn about the various types of carousels in Paris as well as the major artists who sculpted the brilliant and loving figures that gave so many children, teens and adults childlike pleasure for centuries.
The narrative voices switch from contemporary France to the 1940s France when a young carver female gets hired by Gustave Bayol, an actual famous carousel creator. Yes, she learns the trade, starting on the bottom cleaning brushes, etc. and graduating to carving the inside of the animals on the actual carousels made for very rich patrons. But she also falls in love and is saved by a refined patron who is as lonely as Maelle, the budding artist.
Back in the countryside outside of Paris, Cady winds up staying in a home with a very grumpy old man, Fabrice, whose family has a story that will leave the reader rapidly flipping the pages through various aspects of both a mystery and several romances. Cady will eventually be told the answer about the photograph of a beautiful woman and a love letter hidden inside a carousel rabbit. She will get the chance to restore an abandoned and semi-destroyed carousel and perhaps find some romance at the same time. An unusual ending allows the reader to imagine the end of this superb story, instead of finding instant closure.
This magnificent novel is about the essence of evolving relationships, be they familial, friendly, or romantic. Realizations and explorations galore will assault the reader’s mind and heart so that this provokes some very special thinking and feeling. That in itself makes this story a gem!
Enjoy a grand, exciting, mesmerizing and yet peaceful read! Highly recommend The Lost Carousel of Provence!