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The Last Estate

A book by Conor Bowman

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A Novel that reads like a fine French wine

  • Aug 27, 2010
Rating:
+4
Written by an Irishman, set in the wine-country of 1920s France, The Last Estate by Conor Bowman combines the darkness and depth of Irish story-telling with the beauty of a French village, the mystique of the Pon D'Avignon, and the cruel history of the first world war.

The story is beautifully crafted. It starts with a cut that slices a young boy's face; one moment, one blade to change everything, though forgiveness waits in the wings, even beyond the grave. Cut again by fate and his father's scorn, Christian seeks an unlikely healing in his teenage fantasies. Meanwhile the geography teacher, another wounded soul, seeks solace in memories of a generous glance. And the priest wounds vulnerable hearts and souls in the name of Holy Purity.

Love blossoms unsanctioned, cutting its own sweet way through boundaries, and a delightful love story unfolds. The writing maintains the self-consciousness of a young man looking forward, or an old man looking back, but it draws the reader to the author's feet and fastens him there to listen. Still, evil as well as forgiveness waits only so long, then comes the cruelest cut.

Life transcends accident, and love transcends time. Even a person's sense of self can transcend the boundaries of duty, law and family. In the end it's Christian who cuts himself free from his past. Christian and Vivienne open their separate doors and the future floods in, washing away the decay of long-spilled wine.

Did I forget to mention, I really liked this book; another gift from the Permanent Press, sent in hopes that I'd read and review it. Read, with thanks.

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More The Last Estate reviews
review by . May 05, 2011
When we imagine the area of Provence, France, we think of a panorama of vineyards and peaceful surroundings.      The narrator of this coming of age novel, Christian Aragan, is seventeen and about to graduate. His geography teacher, Vivienne Pleyden is age twenty-four. The time of the novel is mostly after WWI.      Vivienne's husband Stephane is a controlling, abusive man who beat her so often that it was normal to see her hat school with make-up attempting …
About the reviewer
Sheila Deeth ()
Ranked #42
Sheila Deeth's first novel, Divide by Zero, has just been released in print and ebook formats. Find it on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Powells, etc. Her spiritual speculative novellas can be found at … more
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Wiki

Love conquers all. That evergreen sentiment lights up this short novel, the first U.S. publication for its Irish author.
A knife flashes and a boy is cut in the opening sentence. It s a minor injury in a children s scuffle, but also a portent of the violence ahead. The setting is Gigondas, a village in a wine-making region of Provence. Most of the action takes place in the summer of 1920, when the fight victim, Christian Aragon, the lead and narrator, is almost 17 and about to graduate from high school. It s only two years since the end of the Great War, in which Christian s older brother Eugene was killed. Their father, the bullying, egotistical Robert, had expected Eugene to succeed him as a wine-maker, the family business for two centuries. Now that duty falls to Christian, but he s resisting; he intends to make his own way in life. (His timid mother stands apart from the struggle.) Life at the chateau since Eugene s death has become an empty ritual. School is more inviting, for Christian has fallen in love with his beautiful 24-year-old geography teacher Vivienne Pleyden, who lives alone since her brutally abusive husband disappeared, to dodge the draft. Christian s love for her is innocent, passionate and unconditional. Vivienne reciprocates it, as he discovers on an officially sanctioned school trip to Avignon. He loses his virginity to her in the confessional box of a church. What might have been messy and mawkish is redeemed by Bowman s fresh, invigorating prose. Back ...
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Details

ISBN-10: 1579622038
ISBN-13: 978-1579622039
Author: Conor Bowman
Publisher: Permanent Press

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