The Memory of Lavender and Sage by Aimie Runyan: 4****

I have enjoyed the authors prior works, and so I thought I would give this book a try, which is her first venture into “contemporary fiction.” I was not disappointed, but at the same time I felt that the plot was easy to figure out, and the ending was just what I expected. That does not make it a bad book, instead this is a rather good book. While it’s a book of contemporary fiction, there’s a lot of old charm to the book because our narrator, Tempesta Luddington, upon her father’s death, eventually moves back to her mother’s hometown of Sainte-Colombe in Provence, France. Her mother had died years before, and when she was basically disinherited and never made to be part of the family, she decided to go visit her mother’s hometown. Once there things begin to change for Tempesta. She is greeted with animosity by some members of the town (population approximately 1200) and also finds a town that is on its last legs at all. Its businesses are drying up and it’s youth are moving somewhere else. This is a story that can be set in any European country because the trend is alarming in Europe as well as many other areas of the world.

What we do discover is that Tempesta has a magical green thumb for growing herbs and begins to cultivate them and also use them to make lotions, salves, food, and drinks that include the herbs she grows in her garden. The book concentrates on the positive and what people can do to both honor the past, but live in the present and plan for the future. Too often we are mired in what used to be, and it took a wake up call by the town Mayor to realize that his point of view was not helping the town at all, and that it was time for new ideas and new people to take over. Well, you can figure out where this is headed, as well as the fact that the first man that Tempesta meets in Sainte-Colombe she will eventually fall in love with. Again, a bit predictable to put it mildly but I enjoyed this book and feel that I would like the author to return to this town with more books, because there are many more stories to be told. The book reminds me of the written by Joanne Harris in her series set in France. But here there is an innocence about our narrator, a genuineness to help new friends as well as finding out family mysteries. The author makes a point to show that small towns can possibly rebrand themselves to become vibrant. As I said, this is a story that could be set in any country in Europe, but the point of view is what makes this different and so very enjoyable. A good effort and looking forward to more from Aimie Runyan.

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