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The Last Estate

A book by Conor Bowman

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"I'm for a good estate with any man and any man with a good estate." Wm Congreve

  • May 5, 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 to cover her bruises. There was an occasion when Vivienne and her husband were in the village square. Christian was only a young boy and saw that Stephane was about to strike Vivienne, Christian made his presence known and Stephane held back and pretended to be doing something else.

Perhaps becoming a man means being able to express yourself and your own thoughts concerning your future. We see Christian and his dilemma about his future and the thought of working at the family vineyards.

Christian's older brother, Eugene, was killed during the war. Christian seems to view the war as a place where heroes were made and cowards uncovered. Eugene was killed during a battle and Stpepanie disappeared when conscription was becoming eminent.

There are conflicts underneath the skin of this village. The local priest, a Jesuit, preaches hell and damnation but Christian sees him as a fraud. There is also the conflict between Christian and his father, and Vivienne and her husband. All of these problem relationships are magnified when seen in the apparent serenity of Provence and the fields of grapes and mountains in the distance.

Christian and Vivienne become lovers and an incident occurs that was perhaps ordained when Christian was a young boy and cut by another boy when at school. The scar from this knife wound remained a sign of earlier battle.

This is a warm story of enduring love and devotion beautifully told and full of images and characters who will remain in the reader's memory.

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review by . August 27, 2010
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 …
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Mike Draper ()
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Michael A.Draper is a financial planner with Mass Mutual in North Haven, CT.   Married to Diana for 46 years, one son and daughter-in-law and two lovely granddaughters.      … more
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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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ISBN-10: 1579622038
ISBN-13: 978-1579622039
Author: Conor Bowman
Publisher: Permanent Press

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