Grief is a love story told backwards.
Heidi is no strangers to loss. She almost lost her mother as a child; she lost a baby. Two years ago Heidi lost her husband Henry, and she has been lost ever since. She is a gifted pastry chef who cannot even bake a cake for her sister’s wedding. The world has moved on but she has not. She is literally grief-stricken. She cannot explain to her now anxious germ-phobic son Abbott how in one moment your safe world can change suddenly and irrevocably. In The Provence Cure for the Brokenhearted, Bridget Asher captures Heidi’s sadness and her path back to love with great empathy, gentle humor and vivid imagery. The novel is sweet without being sappy and great for the armchair traveler to Provence.
Heidi’s half-French mother has told Heidi and her sister Elysius the stories about the magical properties of the family house in Provence. Her mother had her own lost summer at the house after her husband cheated on her. Elysius believes in the house’s power because her boyfriend of eight years, who swore he would never get married, proposed to her there. But the house has suffered a fire and is as much in need of repair as is Heidi. So Heidi, Abbott, and her sister’s sullen teenage stepdaughter Charlotte go on a pilgrimage to Provence.
Once in France, the three are robbed and lose all of their belongings—all the baggage of their past. Julien, Heidi’s childhood friend and neighbor, rescues them and her healing begins. In a funny scene, Julien and Heidi compare notes to see who is more miserable: Julien after divorce or Heidi after loss of her husband. They decide people of war-torn countries always win. Heidi’s heart opens, and she copes with Charlotte’s secret, her mother’s past, and Abbott’s growing up—he touches a warthog!-- without panic attacks. She forms a new life and a new family unit. As the French say: c’est comme ça, or, life is like that!