Monday, 29 February 2016

The Lavender Keeper // Book Review

Other than bees, skincare and Netflix, one of my big passions is World War Two - learning about it, reading about it, thinking about it. I've visited concentration camps and museums, I've watched countless documentaries, and when I saw The Lavender Keeper on The Works (my number one go-to for buying books) I knew I had to have it.

The book is written entirely in third person, with an omniscient narrator, and tells the stories of Luc Bonet (a farmer who grows lavender, German-born but adopted by a Jewish family in France) and Lisette Forestier, half German and half French, living in England. Already sounds confusing, am I right? The book is interlaced with secrets and lies, false names and acquired personas. It catapults back and forth between the French Alps, London and Paris; we meet members of the French Resistance, of the Gestapo, of the SOE.

Luc, or Lukas, or whatever name he takes on, becomes a Maquis; he meets Lisette, who has been employed as a British spy and sent to France via plane/parachute. They part ways and she attempts to work her way into the life of a senior German officer, only for Luc (under another false name) to appear once more. Honestly, it was hard to keep up with - that's an understatement. It was utterly confusing, and in some parts boring.

The plot, its cleverness and brutality, should have been amazing; but it was poorly executed, with an amateur writing style and too much telling, rather than showing. Maybe, as a creative writing student, I'm overly critical. But one guy saying to another "Beautiful weather isn't it, perfect for us to go for a walk" just seems unrealistic, forced and pointless. The descriptions seemed far-fetched at times, dull at others; conversation didn't flow, and the whole book had a sort-of unedited feel to it.

I wanted to love this book, and I saw it through to it's rather predictable ending - as confusing as it was to keep up with, there weren't many twists and turns into unexpected places. It was just wordy, and complicated, and there seemed to be more characters than there actually was. I enjoyed small parts of it, little sub-plots that made it softer. But honestly, I wouldn't recommend it. I was disappointed.

Have you read anything by Fiona McIntosh? Let me know if she has any better offerings! Also, this is a book set in another country - I think 2016 will see me finally finish that book review challenge!


  1. It's a shame you found it so disappointing. It definitely sounds confusing. I've never heard of the author before but will be giving this book a miss for sure!

    Roxie | The Beautiful Bluebird

  2. I don't like books that are predictable. A twisted, unusual, and thrilling read is something I crave. Have you read The Book Thief? it's related to WW-II.

    Noor | Noor's Place