Sunday, July 23, 2023

Paris in July: Dreaming in French by Vanessa McCausland

Last year, one of my two five star reads was The Beautiful Words by Vanessa McCausland, so when I saw that she had a new book out, I knew I was going to read it. Given that the theme for my read on a theme bookclub this month was Australian authors and that I am currently participating in Paris in July, it seemed like I needed to read Dreaming in French right now!

Years ago Saskia Wyle spent a summer on Île de Ré, an island off the west coast of France. That summer has shaped Saskia's subsequent life, not necessarily in a good way. It is a time in her life that she has put behind her, never talking about her time on the island at all. She especially has not talked about the event that happened which still continues to impact her mental health to this day.

When Saskia was a young woman, she left her home in Australia, travelling to the island to work as a nanny for a wealthy family. There she meets Simone Durant, a wealthy heiress and Felix Allard, who currently works on the salt pans, but dreams of being an actor. There they form an intense and deep friendship which is only jeopardised by the romantic feelings that grow between each of the two girls and Felix. It a summer filled with friendship and joy, until something happens that causes Saskia to leave and never speak to either Simone or Felix again.

Saskia's secrets begin to be exposed when she receives a letter from a lawyer in France advising her that she has inherited half of Simone's mansion, and that Felix has inherited the other half. In order to claim her inheritance she must travel to France. And so, Saskia is forced to face all of the emotions that she has been keeping suppressed for all these years, and to face the impact that suppression has had in her own life, in her marriage and in the lives of her two daughters.

Saskia needs to track down the elusive Felix, sign the papers and get back to Australia, but that isn't as simple as it could be. The longer she stays on the island the more memories come back, and the more that she wonders why it is that Simone has left her this inheritance, and why she insisted on bringing her back to this place that she left behind years ago. When she finds a manuscript hidden in the villa, she must decide if she wants to revisit the events of that summer.

There are so many themes covered in this book and not all of them are easy to read about. Saskia's mental health issues and the role of prescription drugs in that,  domestic violence, and eating disorders are just some of the issues that are explored in the pages of this book.

Having read Vanessa McCausland's previous book  last year I knew that I enjoyed this authors work. I was once again mesmerised by her beautiful and atmospheric writing, and the way that she drew me into this story. I read this book in a day, and I am still thinking about it a week later. As I was reading the book, I alternated between needing to keep reading so that I could find out exactly what happened a year ago and not wanting to keep reading because I was dreading finding out what the event was. There are not many authors who do that so skillfully.

This was an absorbing read, and one which I highly recommend.

It's another 5/5 read for me from Vanessa McCausland.


  1. Thank you for sharing your thoughts about this book, Marg. I've been curious about it.

  2. wow, sounds great indeed!
    Some Australian women authors are so talented!

  3. She does appear to be an interesting author. It doesn't look as if she has been published in the US but I will keep my eyes open.

    1. I still have two of her earlier books to read CLM



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