It is 1919 and the war is over, but for Emeline Vane the cold Norfolk fens only are haunted by memories of those she has lost. In a moment of grief, she recklessly boards a train and runs from it all.
Her journey leads her far away, to a tiny seaside village in the South of France. Taken in by cafe owner Maman and her twenty-year-old son, Emeline discovers a world completely new to her: of oranges, olives and wild herbs, the raw, rich tastes of the land.
But when a love affair develops, as passionate as the flavours of the village, secrets from home begin blowing in on the sea wides. Fifty years later, a young solictor on his first case finds Emeline’s diary, and begins to trace a story of betrayal, love and bittersweet secrets that will send him on a journey to discover the truth…
Yet again, Laura Madeleine has written a book that drew me in and didn’t let go until the very last page! Yeah, between Audible, insomnia, a damn good book, a serious disregard for adulting, I blazed through this book in a single sitting and regret nothing 😊
In 1919, Emeline Vane is in the midst of her own personal war. Though the Great War has ended, Emeline has lost most of her family and is on the verge of losing her family home. In a moment of panic, shear desperation really, Emeline abandons her remaining family member, a beloved younger brother, for the south of France and a life beyond her wildest imaginings. The train ride to what is commonly referred to as the end of the world, is both terrifying and liberating for Emeline. In fact, it is during that train ride Emeline meets a kind young man who reminds her, in her new life, she can be anyone she wants to be. With that, Emeline Vane disappears, and Emilie Fischer is born.
From the moment she arrives, Emilie is certain she has found her true home and, in her determination, will work hard, learn all she can from the kind woman who has taken her in, and become an accepted member of the small community she now calls her home. Emilie’s days are filled with hard yet satisfying work, an education beyond her social class, and acceptance she never had at home. She knows, with all confidence she will never return to her old life which means being accepted by the members of the small, tight-knit community. Through food, good food, Emilie is brought into the community, their families, and traditions. With every new experience, every new recipe, Emilie becomes more attached to her new home. That attachment is made all the more real by her growing feelings for a young fisherman, a man who brings more joy to Emilie’s life than she ever could have thought possible.
Fast forward fifty odd years . . . .
Bill Perch is an up and coming solicitor who has been asked to find Emeline Vane. Emeline’s extended family has an opportunity to sell off the old family estate, but before they can do that, they must prove Emeline is, in fact gone for good. What begins as a first case, great opportunity, quickly turns into an obsession that leads Bill, much like Emeline to hop on a train and solve the mystery of the missing woman. What Bill discovers is not just to fate of Emeline, but a life beyond what his family expects and far more exciting than he could have ever imagined.
The Bottom Line: I have always loved a past meets present book, and Where the Wild Cherries Grow absolutely delivers on that front! Emeline is a character you want to like, you want to succeed. From her introduction right on through to the epilogue, I was invested in Emeline’s story and couldn’t stop reading/listening to this book. While Bill’s story is all about revealing Emeline’s life, and is necessary to the overall plot, I found myself breezing through his chapters in order to get to more of Emeline’s story. Beyond the full-bodied characters, Where the Wild Cherries Grow has a rich setting, beautiful though not overwhelming descriptions, and a pacing that is perfectly to suited to the unfolding nature of the plot. There is just enough mystery, just enough romance, just enough of everything to make this a perfect read and certainly an early favorite for 2018!