The Lost Carousel Of Provence

Written by Juliet Blackwell
Review by Julia C. Fischer

In The Lost Carousel of Provence, Juliet Blackwell unravels the mystery of a forgotten carousel from Belle Époque-era France in three interweaving storylines. The main protagonist is Cady Drake, an Oakland-based photographer who is grappling with her past as a foster child and the death of her close friend, Maxine. Cady wants to solve the mystery of Gus, a wooden carousel rabbit given to her by Maxine, which she believes is a lost Gustav Bayol masterpiece. Cady travels to Paris and then the dilapidated Château Clement in Paris to prove Gus’s provenance. In Belle Époque Provence, Maëlle Tanguy, a talented sculptress, works in Bayol’s carousel workshop, where she helps her master create a merry-go-round for the Château Clement. The third part of the story is in World War II Paris. Here, Fabrice Clement is a member of the French Resistance and after the war he returns to his family home, the Château Clement, where decades later, his and Cady’s paths will cross.

The Lost Carousel of Provence is a treat for Francophiles, especially those interested in turn-of-the-century France. Blackwell vividly captures the intricate workings of a carousel workshop in France, from the carving, sanding, and painting of the individual carousel animals to the technology involved in the creation of a merry-go-round. In fact, Maëlle’s story is so fascinating that this reader wished she was the main protagonist or even the sole focus of this book. Nevertheless, within the framework of the lost carousel, in both the past and the present-day, Blackwell tells a gripping story about love, acceptance, and human connection.