Book Review for “Véronique’s Journey” a Novella by Patti Flinn.
Summary: “In 18th century France, the choices for a young black woman of modest means are slim. Véronique Clair loves her parents and their small home in the countryside of Burgundy but dreams of using her talent for sewing and embroidery to make her own way, without having to rely on a man. When Véronique’s well-meaning parents find her a suitor of elevated station their happiness turns into her despair. Véronique must make the difficult choice between agreeing to an arranged marriage–with its promise of elevated status in society–or embark upon an unpredictable journey across France and into a world she’s never known. …for a young woman of honor, only the heart can guide the way.”
Age: Adult; Genres: Literary, Women, Fiction; Settings: Historical; France – rural Burgundy region; Other Categories: Novella, Diverse Authors, #OwnVoices, Prequel.
Let me start off by saying this was a very interesting story, which covers a part of Black history that I know very little about. You see, I didn’t know about slavery in the French colonies, or that people could escape slavery in those places by moving to France, even if they hadn’t been freed by their owners. Obviously, that didn’t make them equals to their white French compatriots, nor were they widely accepted in French society. However, they could study, work, and even (so it seems), own land. In addition, it doesn’t sound like they had any laws against interracial marriage. While some of this comes through in Flinn’s novel, it isn’t overly elaborated upon, but it piqued my interest to find out more. That’s certainly one thing in favor of this story, and I thank Flinn for this.
I should mention the writing style here, which I found to be slightly on the lyrical side, with a softness to it that is also straight-forward and almost simplistic at times, which I think nicely reflected Flinn’s protagonist’s personality. You see, Flinn portrays Véronique to be a gentle soul, yet one who knows her own mind and heart. She isn’t afraid to speak her mind, yet she knows that she can’t always do that – because of her position and her race. Flinn also show Véronique as being intelligent and talented with a needle. I appreciated this aspect of the protagonist, but I also felt that her dressmaking ambitions weren’t quite as pronounced as they could have been. Furthermore, there was one plot element that didn’t make sense (and wasn’t fully explained), and a twist near the end that seemed a tiny bit too convenient.
However, from the author’s notes at the end of this, believe we will all learn more about both Véronique’s ambitions as well as more about Africans in Europe during this time period. Yes, what I’m saying is that the novella is actually a prequel to what Flinn hints at being a series of books – probably full-length novels. Finding this out does impact my overall rating of this novella. Why? Because some of the drawbacks that I found when thinking this was a stand-alone work were no longer relevant. In fact, because I felt that I wanted to know more, that I didn’t have enough information or didn’t feel close enough to Véronique, actually became just the types of teasers that a prequel needs to make me want to read Flinn’s upcoming book about Véronique. At the very least, I would be happy to read the first one in this series (and my regular readers know I’m not one to readily commit to a series).
That doesn’t mean that I can give this book a full five stars, however. I think that Flinn has a very comfortable, easy to read, writing style, which I generally enjoyed. I also believe that Flinn needs to work on tightening up her story line a bit, so that we aren’t confused when something unpleasant happens. Flinn also needs to make sure that we don’t just like Véronique, we need to fall in love with her. I was originally going to give this just three stars, but I have decided that I’ll add another half star. I am also recommending this to anyone who knows little or nothing about what was happening in Europe with the Black race, while their brothers and sisters were being heartlessly kidnapped from their homes, and brutally enslaved on the other side of the globe.
Gilded Orange Books will release “Véronique’s Journey” by Patti Flinn on September 1, 2022. This book is available (via the following affiliate links) from Amazon, The Book Depository UK and Book Depository US (both with free worldwide delivery), Kobo US (eBooks), iTunes (iBooks), as well as from Bookshop.org (to support independent bookshops, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic) or an IndieBound store near you. I would like to thank the author for sending me the ARC of this novella.