In an affecting story about loss, a young widow goes to Provence to renovate her family’s home—and hopefully fix her heart.
Young Heidi begins her story with a simple statement: “Grief is a love story told backward.” Heidi’s life with eight-year-old son Abbot has become a memory game to keep her husband Henry alive, and to keep real life—that is a world in which Henry no longer exists—at bay. He died in a car accident a few years ago, and since then Abbot has developed obsessive-compulsive tics and Heidi has all but given up, handing over her bakery to an assistant. Henry and Heidi’s bittersweet story unfolds as Heidi is forced into action, even if it’s only for a few weeks in the summer. There is a house in Provence that has belonged to Heidi’s family for generations—a house that is steeped in stories of romance and coincidence. Heidi and her older sister Elysius spent childhood summers there with their mother. Now a fire has gutted the kitchen and it has been decided that for her own good, Heidi should fix it. She packs up Abbot, Elysius’ 16-year-old step-daughter Charlotte, and enough Henry memories to last six weeks. Heidi, Abbot and Charlotte develop a lazy routine and soon Abbot is washing his hands less, Charlotte scowls less, and Heidi is allowing memories of Henry to rest a little. Next to their house is the home of longtime family friend Véronique and her visiting wayward son Julien (Heidi remembers him as a wayward child too). Just as Heidi is beginning to step into the sunshine, Charlotte’s boyfriend arrives and announces they’re pregnant, Abbot runs away as he spies the budding affection between Heidi and Julien, and Heidi’s mother and sister fly over to straighten everybody out.
Unabashedly romantic and unafraid of melancholy, Asher’s book is a real charmer about a Provencal house that casts spells over the lovelorn.