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The Provence Cure for the Brokenhearted [With Earbuds]

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Overview

“Every good love story has another love hiding within it.”
 
Brokenhearted and still mourning the loss of her husband, Heidi travels with Abbott, her obsessive-compulsive seven-year-old son, and Charlotte, her jaded sixteen-year-old niece, to the small village of Puyloubier in the south of France, where a crumbling stone house may be responsible for mending hearts since before World War II.

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The Provence Cure for the Brokenhearted

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Overview

“Every good love story has another love hiding within it.”
 
Brokenhearted and still mourning the loss of her husband, Heidi travels with Abbott, her obsessive-compulsive seven-year-old son, and Charlotte, her jaded sixteen-year-old niece, to the small village of Puyloubier in the south of France, where a crumbling stone house may be responsible for mending hearts since before World War II.

There, Charlotte confesses a shocking secret, and Heidi learns the truth about her mother’s “lost summer” when Heidi was a child. As three generations collide with one another, with the neighbor who seems to know all of their family skeletons, and with an enigmatic Frenchman, Heidi, Charlotte, and Abbot journey through love, loss, and healing amid the vineyards, warm winds and delicious food of Provence. Can the magic of the house heal Heidi’s heart, too?

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Editorial Reviews

Library Journal
After nearly two years of mourning her late husband, Heidi is still unable to function, and her eight-year-old son, Abbott, has become a germ-phobic obsessive-compulsive. Heidi's mother and her sister, Elysius, devise a plan they hope will help Heidi move on with her life as well as rid Elysius of her problem teenage stepdaughter for a few weeks—Heidi, Abbott, and Charlotte must travel to the French countryside to care for the family's old house. Things do not go well for the trio, as their belongings are stolen before they can make it to the house. Enter Julien, the handsome Frenchman whom Heidi has known since her childhood summer vacations in France; he is also suffering a heartbreak owing to the recent breakup of his marriage—and it starts to look like things might get better for Heidi. But not before Charlotte is revealed to be pregnant, and her eccentric baby daddy shows up unannounced. VERDICT Readers who enjoy widow lit like Lolly Winston's Good Grief and Jane Green's The Beach House or travel-induced transformation books like Frances Mayes's Under the Tuscan Sun and Elizabeth Gilbert's Eat, Pray, Love will find common themes in Asher's (pen name of Julianna Baggott) engaging third novel after My Husband's Sweethearts and The Pretend Wife and become quickly invested in the lives of the deftly drawn characters. [Library marketing.]—Karen Core, Detroit P.L.
Kirkus Reviews

In an affecting story about loss, a young widow goes to Provence to renovate her family's home—and hopefully fix her heart.

Young Heidi begins her story with a simple statement: "Grief is a love story told backward." Heidi's life with eight-year-old son Abbot has become a memory game to keep her husband Henry alive, and to keep real life—that is a world in which Henry no longer exists—at bay. He died in a car accident a few years ago, and since then Abbot has developed obsessive-compulsive tics and Heidi has all but given up, handing over her bakery to an assistant. Henry and Heidi's bittersweet story unfolds as Heidi is forced into action, even if it's only for a few weeks in the summer. There is a house in Provence that has belonged to Heidi's family for generations—a house that is steeped in stories of romance and coincidence. Heidi and her older sister Elysius spent childhood summers there with their mother. Now a fire has gutted the kitchen and it has been decided that for her own good, Heidi should fix it. She packs up Abbot, Elysius' 16-year-old step-daughter Charlotte, and enough Henry memories to last six weeks. Heidi, Abbot and Charlotte develop a lazy routine and soon Abbot is washing his hands less, Charlotte scowls less, and Heidi is allowing memories of Henry to rest a little. Next to their house is the home of longtime family friend Véronique and her visiting wayward son Julien (Heidi remembers him as a wayward child too). Just as Heidi is beginning to step into the sunshine, Charlotte's boyfriend arrives and announces they're pregnant, Abbot runs away as he spies the budding affection between Heidi and Julien, and Heidi's mother and sister fly over to straighten everybody out.

Unabashedly romantic and unafraid of melancholy, Asher's book is a real charmer about a Provencal house that casts spells over the lovelorn.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781441785947
  • Publisher: Blackstone Audio, Inc.
  • Publication date: 3/28/2011
  • Series: Playaway Adult Fiction Series
  • Format: Other
  • Product dimensions: 5.60 (w) x 7.30 (h) x 1.00 (d)

Meet the Author

Bridget Asher is the author of My Husband's Sweethearts and The Pretend Wife. She lives on the Florida panhandle but is always happy to do research in Provence.
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Reading Group Guide

1.   Heidi’s mother believes strongly that the house in Provence has magical qualities that help people make decisions and see their lives clearly.  Have you ever heard stories about an object or place similar to the love stories that Heidi’s mother tells her and Elysius when they’re growing up? Do you believe that a place can heal?
 
2.  One of the first lines of the book is “Every good love story has another love hiding within it.” What do you think the author means by that? Do you agree?
 
3.  Discuss Abbot’s obsessive compulsiveness.  In what ways does he use his tics as a coping mechanism?  In what ways do you think they hold him back? Have you ever experienced similar symptoms brought on by a trauma or loss?
 
4.   During the summer, Charlotte is supposed to be studying SAT vocabulary words, and Abbot is reliant on his father’s dictionary.  What is significant about language and vocabulary for this family?  What do you think it means that their books are stolen at the beginning of the trip?
 
5.   Veronique tells Heidi that it was only because of the fire that the archeological team was able to set up near the property, saying that tragedy allowed them to dig into the past.  In what ways is that true for Heidi?  For Julien?  For Heidi’s mother and Veronique?
 
6.   Heidi and Elysius are sisters, but approach nearly every situation differently.  Why do you think that is?  Based on their lives as adults, what would you say were the primary repercussions of their father’s affair and their mother’s lost summer? 
 
7.  Why do you think Charlotte is so drawn to Veronique and to her kitchen? 
 
8.  Heidi has a complicated relationship with food and cooking—she’s a professional baker, yet after Henry’s death she can’t bring herself to go near a kitchen.  Why does it take that side of her so long to reemerge?  Discuss some key food scenes and why they are important to Heidi’s summer.
 
9.  Discuss the injured swallow, and the ways in which it serves as a breakthrough in Heidi and Abbot’s grieving process.  How does Abbot uses the bird to think about his father? Why do you think the author chose a swallow to explore this theme?
 
10. Charlotte tells Heidi that when she prays, she thinks of herself as one of the Flying Wallendas and asks for a good net.   What does that come to mean to her?  What do you think the concept of a safety net means to other characters in the book?
 
11. Heidi tells Charlotte that there are many different kinds of love.  In what ways does that apply to Heidi’s life? How is she able to reconcile her love for Julien with her love for Henry?
 
 
12. What do you think the future holds for Charlotte and Adam?  What about for their daughter, Pearl? 

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4
( 35 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star

(13)

4 Star

(10)

3 Star

(9)

2 Star

(2)

1 Star

(1)

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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 35 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted June 20, 2012

    Loved it!

    An elegant writer with good play of words a well as a story that comes full circle as a young widow moves through grieving and ultimately learns to lean on family and discover hidden strengths.

    I couldnt put it down!

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 5, 2012

    Dramatic Fiction

    Wonderful characters. Well developed story.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted October 24, 2011

    Enjoyable and Transporting

    I enjoyed this book. It was somewhat predictable, but the images presented keep you enthralled...the food, the scenes, the relationships. It started slow for me, so hang in there.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted October 11, 2011

    Beautifully read by Kate Reading

    In the wake of her husband's death, Heidi and her 8 yr old son Abbot are lost. Struggling to get through an ordinary day, the offer of a change of scenery seems like just what they need. Heidi's mother quickly arranges for them to spend the summer in Provence, fixing up an old family home, and for them to take the inconvenient stepchild, 16 yr old Charlotte with them. It becomes a summer of healing where secrets past and present are revealed and all three of the travelers discover hidden sources of strength.

    A nice story with a lovely setting and some delicious food descriptions. Provence Cure strays into the predictible a bit too often to be a great story and the characters were all a little bland. Still, its hard to object too much to the gorgeous French countryside, handsome and heartbroken Frenchmen, and plucky heroines finding their own voices.

    The audio version is narrated by Kate Reading. Kate Reading! That's reason enough to give it a try. Her precise, clipped, and somehow dreamy reading give Heidi's grief and confusion the perfect expression.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted September 14, 2011

    more from this reviewer

    Magical

    A beautiful book that reminds me of Under the Tuscan Sun because a house is an important character. In this book, the house appears to be enchanted. Love happens there.

    This writer writes bereavement as though she has been there. A young widow goes back to the house in Provence where she spent her summers as a child. She's accompanied by her young son who has become obsessive/compulsive since his dad's death, and her sister's teenage step-daughter who has major issues of her own.

    The house seems to work its magic once again and you don't want to miss watching it unfold.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted August 2, 2011

    more from this reviewer

    Good Read

    I have enjoyed Bridget Asher's other books and enjoyed this one as well. Loved the beautiful descriptions of the French countryside and the family togetherness this book evoked. Love will set you free if you let it. Good summer read.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted May 15, 2011

    Good Summer Read

    I really loved this book while I was reading it but by the end was finding it all a little to soap opera when I previously found it kind of modern day Jane Austen..ish. Heidi was just a little too wonderful and extremely self involved. Of course the whole story is about her but its really all about her at all times. She suffers the loss, her mothers story revolves around her, she finds love again so easily, and her niece prefers her to her sister. I also didn't care for the comment about America having made so many mistakes but not the wonderful French! Even the robbery was not committed by french folk but German tourists. Heidi never seems to really acknowledge what a privileged life she has lead to have the unbelievable support of a family that has given her all of this time to continue to live her life of grief and self absorption. Well written, just not sure I like Heidi so much now that I've finished.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted March 28, 2011

    a tender and enchanting novel!

    What a tender and enchanting novel, simply full of love! Heidi is still mourning the tragic death of her adored husband in a car crash two years before; she thinks she sees him everywhere, but it is never him. Heidi's seven-year-old son also has never stopped missing his father. There is, however, an old house in Provence in southern France which had been in the family for generations and which supposedly can create emotional healing and bring love to those who care for it and live within its walls. Heidi's mother sends her and the boy there, along with her sister's recalcitrant adolescent stepdaughter. In spite of an inauspicious beginning, Heidi does find an enchantment in the house nestled against the mountains which subtly begins to bring new life to all of them. To Heidi it brings something very special for she finds that the little boy next door with whom she played as a child is now a sensitive, caring and handsome man with his own losses in need of healing. THE PROVENCE CURE FOR THE BROKENHEARTED is beautifully and wisely written, wrapping its handful of characters in such love that surely the restorative and joyful qualities of the house with all its legends will reach out from the page and also draw the reader lovingly inside. The novel is dedicated to the reader. It is really a gift to anyone who finds herself within its pages. I am the author of CLAUDE & CAMILLE: A NOVEL OF MONET.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 28, 2011

    Beautiful

    This novel has been compared to Eat, Pray, Love, a memoir that I absolutely hated. Thankfully for The Provence Cure for the Brokenhearted, this novel was everything that Eat, Pray, Love wasn't. It had characters that I cared about and a plot that actually moved. By the end of the book I wasn't happy it was over; I was sad there weren't more pages to read.

    Two years after her husbands tragic death, Heidi is still struggling to come to terms with it. Then, when her family's home in southern France is damaged in a kitchen fire, her mother convinces her to take her young son and jaded-with-life niece to France to begin repairs and renovations. There Heidi will learn more about herself and her relationship with her deceased husband, her son will grow, and her niece will harbor a life-changing secret that will bring the family together in a way they've never been together before.

    Heidi's character was not selfish. It would only be natural for her to take on a sense of "woe is me" because her husband was gone, but she was also focused on her son, whom she loved with all her heart. The characters in this novel are real, believable and deep. The scenery is gorgeous and themes throughout the novel are woven together. It was complex and beautiful.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted March 14, 2011

    more from this reviewer

    This is an entertaining family melodrama

    Henry died two years ago in a car accident. His wife Heidi has failed to move on as she lives for his memory and to keep germy reality away from touching her and their eight years old son Abbott. She even stopped making her bakery a success.

    Heidi's mother and her sister Elysius are worried about Heidi and what her grief is doing to Abbott. They decide that Heidi and Abbot accompanied by Elysius' troubled teenage stepdaughter Charlotte will go to the family house in rustic Puyloubier in Provence, France to oversee the fixing up of the kitchen ruined by a fire. Although they object, the trio heads to the estate only to lose all their belongings. However when Julien, whose marriage has just ended, and Heidi meet for the first since they were children, they are attracted to each other. However, their mutual desire leads to Abbott running away, sixteen years old Charlotte announcing she is pregnant, and what happened the summer mom ran away to Provence.

    This is an entertaining family melodrama starring a wonderful protagonist who wants to be left alone in her wallowing and a strong cast who either share in her miserable outlook or foster an intervention on her. Melancholy and nostalgic, fans will agree with mom that the house in Puyloubier possesses the "logical cure for the brokenhearted."

    Harriet Klausner

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted April 18, 2013

    more from this reviewer

    Really enjoyed everything about this book, was sorry when it was

    Really enjoyed everything about this book, was sorry when it was over.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 5, 2013

    A lovely book

    I really enjoyed this sort of generational love story. Widowed too soon,Heidi and her son travel to Provence to oversee the repairs of her family homestead. She learns to "practice joy" and in doing so begins to listen to herself over the clamouring ache of loss. A well written book and a few Provencial recipies are a great addition at the end

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 28, 2012

    Breezekit

    Wanders to 'dead'.

    0 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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    Posted November 4, 2013

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    Posted May 18, 2011

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    Posted June 26, 2011

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