Review: The Tapestry of Love, Rosy Thornton

Sometimes there is just a pleasing confluence of events. Litlove reviewed The Tapestry of Love a few weeks ago, and I thought it didn’t sound like the kind of thing I normally read at all, but that didn’t necessarily mean I wouldn’t like it / shouldn’t try it. So when the author emailed me to ask if I wanted to review it, of course I said yes.

The Tapestry of Love is all about a divorced woman called Catherine Parkstone who decides to move to rural France and set up shop there as a decorator and seamstress. As you do. Back in England, she has a mother with Alzheimer’s, a daughter trying to find a steady job in journalism, a son who does something very advanced and sciencey, and a flaky sister with a high-powered career. It truly is not the sort of book I would typically pick up, as I am bad at crafts, find Alzheimer’s upsetting, and would die of boredom in rural France after about three days of no internet.

What made it work for me was Rosy Thornton’s writing, which is elegant and evocative and elliptical. Except not elliptical. I just wanted another e-adjective, and “eccentric” didn’t work for me. The book is far less about Catherine’s romance with her dark and handsome neighbor (I can’t be bothered with dark and handsome neighbors who kill their own food, although of course I wouldn’t mind someone making me blood sausage), and more about her romance with the south of France. Thornton makes even me, a girl who cannot be bothered with nature except in very very small doses, want to go live in the south of France and see deer and wild boars. Plus, she describes the food that everyone eats, and I love reading about what people are eating.

My biggest objection was that I wanted to hear more about the tapestries! Catherine makes tapestries and upholstery, and that’s what she wants to do for a job in France, and I loved reading about how she came up with her ideas for tapestries and then started making them. As one of the least craft-oriented people in the world, I think it is marvelous when people can make things with their hands, and I want to hear all about it. What are all the kinds of threads? How does Catherine go about restoring the church tapestry? I wanted to know because there is absolutely no chance whatsoever that I will ever become a tapestry restorer. If the books don’t tell me how restoring tapestries works, I will never know.

So basically, considering that The Tapestry of Love is not at all my type of book really, I enjoyed it a lot and was pleased to have read it. Once again I have you bloggy people to thank for making me expand my bookish horizons. And of course thank you to Rosy Thornton for sending it to me! (FTC, take note.)

Other folks that read this:

Tales from the Reading Room (thanks for the recommendation!)
Iris on Books
Random Jottings of a Book and Opera Lover
Vulpes Libris
Book Girl of Mur-y-Castell

Tell me if I missed yours!

33 thoughts on “Review: The Tapestry of Love, Rosy Thornton

  1. I have this to read and review and am really looking forward to it! Especially when you say food and nature – bliss! I just have to clear a couple of things that I’m reading currently, basically to avoid paying library fines on unfinished books, and then it’s next choice.

  2. I really enjoyed Thornton’s previous book, Crossed Wires, and have been wanting to go back and read her previous books, especially More Than Love Letters, an epistolary updating of Gaskell’s North and South–how awesome is that?!

    • It was! And yes, it’s good for me to experiment in my reading. Sometimes it confirms my previously-held biases, but often (like now!) it makes me rethink them.

  3. Oh, I’m glad this worked out–I love it when taking a chance on a book you might usually pass over works out. (Conversely, when it doesn’t, I always feel oddly vindicated by my usual distaste for a certain topic or genre.)

    • So, so true of me too. Like, when I read and disliked Kurt Vonnegut, it just confirmed all my other biases against authors I haven’t read but suspect I don’t like.

    • It is indeed the trade commission. They set up these new rules last year, or two years ago maybe?, to say that bloggers have to disclose if they received free things for review.

  4. Hi Jenny, and thanks so much for reading – especially given your natural distaste for all things pastoral. I’m sorry there wasn’t more about the detail of tapestry restoration. Personally, I’d have blathered on tediously about it for pages, but when you’re working within the confines of commercial fiction there’s a limit to you can swing past an editor!

    Please excuse my barging in, but I just felt the need, on reading the discussion here, to come on with a disclaimer, in case folks think More Than Love Letters is actually a re-working of North and South. It really wouldn’t claim to be that at all – it’s just light contemporary rom com, essentially. It’s only that the main character is based on Gaskell’s Margaret Hale: I fancied having a central character who was a Victorian heroine out of her time: all dark curls, translucent skin and burning moral zeal. And the central premise of the story is taken from North and South, too: a love story which parallels a political rapprochement between the main characters. (He – a Labour MP – all big picture and the compromises of power; she – a primary school teacher and single-issue campaigner – all individual compassion.) But apart from that, it really isn’t a reworking of Gaskell’s novel – I couldn’t possible make that claim. It’s just a bit of fun.

    • Hi, Rosy! Thanks for stopping by, and thanks again so much for sending me the book. I really enjoyed it. Do you make tapestries yourself, or is that something you just researched for the book?

      More Than Love Letters sounds like fun, and I am always, always, always up for an epistolary novel. :p I’m going to see if I can get it from my library.

  5. I imagine that if I told most people that a book was enjoyable, but there wasn’t nearly enough information about tapestries, they would think I was being extremely sarcastic. I’m not a craft person either (and I’m a vegetarian who abhors the very thought of blood sausage) but you’ve really sold me on this book!

    • I hope you like it! The writing is just beautiful, and if you are at all into nature, this book will make you want to move to an isolated village in the south of France and set up shop there. :p

  6. I am going to be receiving this book in the mail shortly, and have to admit that reading your review has made me pretty darn excited about it! I love craftsy books, and have never read anything about creating tapestries before, so it will be new to me. I will have to let you know what I think of it!

    • It kinda made me want to learn more about tapestry-making. I didn’t know people did that anymore, although of course people do nearly everything anymore, as a brief visit to a local RenFest will tell you.

      I’m looking forward to your review! I am sure it will be far more thoughtful and intelligent than mine.

  7. I’ve read a number of books by now about divorced or widowed women moving to a new place and starting a new life, and after a while they all began to seem the same. I do love reading about other cultures and countries so if this book does focus on that more, then I might enjoy it. Thanks for the review!

    • I know – it’s definitely a genre of its own. But I thought with this one, the setting was so vivid, and the business about tapestries was so interesting, it made it very worth reading. Plus it pokes fun at French bureaucracy, and I always love poking fun at bureaucracy. 😀

  8. I’ve had Rosy Thornton on my must-read-soon list and by golly, I am going to fix this before the end of the year. (and I thank LitLove, too, for bringing her to my attention.)

  9. I’m so happy to have received this one too, though I’ve yet to read it. Actually, I’ve yet to read anything at all for the last two weeks. Hm.

    Glad you liked it!

  10. Pingback: 2010: #94 – The Tapestry of Love (Rosy Thornton) | Confessions of a Bibliophile

  11. Pingback: The Tapestry of Love « Care's Online Book Club

  12. Pingback: The Tapestry of Love by Rosy Thornton « The Sleepless Reader

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