Beyond the Lavender Fields

Written by Arlem Hawks
Review by Elizabeth Knowles

Marseille, France, 1792. During the French Revolution, Gilles Étienne, a former mariner and now a high-end soap manufacturer’s clerk, lives at home with his family while working to save money for medical school. He considers himself a Revolutionary, and attends Jacobin meetings at night after work. His employer’s daughter, Marie-Caroline Daubin, has come to Marseille to escape the violence in Paris. She and her family are middle-class Royalists, believing that the traditional ways of France represent the safest path toward a better future for the people.

As the Jacobins turn more violent and mob rule escalates, Gilles becomes disenchanted with the rebellion’s course. Meanwhile, Marie-Caroline and her family, while superficially law-abiding, are hiding secrets that could bring disaster to them all.

Gilles and Marie-Caroline slowly and chastely fall in love, and come to realize that their political views are not as different as they seemed at first. Suspense and intrigue lead to an action-filled climactic chase through the streets of Marseille, as Gilles and his father struggle to rescue both families from the mob.

This book is about love and about families, but mostly—and most importantly—about the dangers of mob rule suppressing freedom instead of advancing it. It should appeal to readers interested in French history and culture. There is a French pronunciation guide and glossary in the front matter of the book.