3 out of 4 stars
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My Riviera by Sharon Dilworth is a delightful coming-of-age story about 17-year-old Agnes and her older sister, Sophie. When the sisters and their grandfather are suddenly forced to leave their home in Paris and relocate to the south of France away from their father, Agnes is left with no explanation beyond her father’s vague allusion to some sort of scandal. The story takes place in the early 1950s, in post-war France where people are still working to rebuild their lives after so many years of uncertainty and change.
It is among sunny cities like Nice and Cannes and the lovely beaches of Monte Carlo that Agnes gets to know Jules Agard, a young and carefree devotee of Henri Matisse and Fausto Coppi. She quickly becomes attached to him but has a lot to learn about love and truth, as does Sophie. Together, these two sisters will grow in unexpected ways amidst the glorious backdrop of the French Riviera.
One of the things I liked most about this book is its vivid setting and the precise descriptions that help bring that setting to life. I was originally drawn to this book because I previously lived in France and have yet to fall more in love with any other place in the world. I was, therefore, delighted with the author’s masterful ability to paint the south of France so precisely.
Another aspect of the book which I adored was the blending of romance, crime, and mystery into what is essentially a Bildungsroman. I love elements of surprise when reading, and there were certain questions which I was unable to answer or solve until the end of the book. The ending was not predictable, and I loved that I was captivated until the end, trying to figure out how certain plot lines would turn out.
I rate this book 3 out of 4 stars. Based on the story and writing style, I would have given it four stars, as there was nothing that I didn’t like. On the contrary, the book was enjoyable to read from start to finish. The only reason I deducted one star is that the version I read had a good many grammatical errors such as incorrect prepositions or conjunctions. Based on the guidelines for Online Book Club, I cannot give the book four stars with all of those mistakes in it because I don’t know if it was professionally edited or not. For example, one sentence read, “Now all the empire can do is blow is nose into it” (pg 22) where “is” should be “its.” Another sentence read, “His brown and cheeks were streaked with dirt” (pg 13) where “and” should be taken out or another noun should follow “brown.” I want to mention the caveat that I read the book as the PDF file that was provided to me. It is possible that all of these errors were fixed before the final publishing. Unfortunately, I had no way to compare the published version with the one sent to me to read, so I cannot say either way.
Regardless of these errors, which may or may not be in the published edition, I thoroughly enjoyed reading this book. I believe it would appeal to anyone who enjoys coming-of-age stories or who likes books with a vibrant setting and interesting characters. I cannot think of any specific audience who wouldn’t enjoy such a story. As such, I recommend My Riviera to anyone looking for a new and captivating read.
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