Monday, June 15, 2015

The Rocheforts by Christian Laborie

"The night sky was pitch black. The air was freezing, and the darkness absorbed all noise. Nimes was plunged into the heart of a harsh winter, the kind that rarely happened more than once in a decade. The ampitheatre was frozen under the dull glow of the moon. Church steeples rose up like giant crosses in a gloomy, unmoved sky. The world was petrified. Yet the narrow streets and wide boulevards were not covered in snow. The dry, icy winds had swept everything away, even the nauseating stench that usually rose from the seedier parts of town." Opening paragraph

Synopsis: Two very different families are bonded by scandal in this sweeping story of love, greed, and betrayal

Anselme Rochefort has built an empire manufacturing serge de Nîmes, or denim. His biggest client? Levi Strauss. As the craze for blue jeans begins to sweep the globe, Rochefort Industries seems poised for untold success. But Anselme can be as cruel and ruthless with his family as he is in business.

The Rocheforts’ neighbor Donatien Rouvière has one of the region’s most prosperous farms and is desperate for a son to carry on his legacy. After the births of three daughters, the Rouvières adopt an orphan from the Sisters of Charity convent and raise him as their own.

When Anselme suggests uniting the two families by arranging for their children to marry, it seems like the perfect match. But as the lives of the two clans grow increasingly intertwined, dark secrets come to light, including the mysterious circumstances of the death of Anselme’s eldest daughter.

With The Rocheforts, Christian Laborie weaves a captivating tale of deceit, intrigue, and the dynamic tension between industrialization and a way of life rooted in the land.

Review by Mirella Patzer 

It's been a while since I've read a multi-generational family saga, so I was delighted when I found this one. This novel was originally published in France and has now made the transition into English. It is a tale of two family's - the wealthy denim textilers, the Rocheforts and the farming land holding Rouvieres. At the head of both families are the patriarchs, the ambitious villain Anselme Rochefort who marries off his son to Louise, the loving daughter of the family man, Donatien. 

Christian Laborie does an excellet job of portraying the fascinating characters, their passions, their betrayals, and he does it in a fast-paced, unwordy manner. His writing is simple, with a strong focus on plot instead of too much description. This is what keeps the story moving forward, the layers of the take peeled away page by page. I loved every bit of it. The characters kept me guessing, and I found myself incredibly involved with them. An excellent story! Long live the family saga! This was a great one, that's for sure.  

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