Sentence: From the butcher to the baker to the café
Tabac, word spread through the village of Vaucreson that Monsieur
John-Paul Bernard had moved a woman into the house he had
ever so recently shared with his wife, Marian.
filmmaker Maggie McGowen is settling into her new life in
France and her new live-in relationship with Jean-Paul Bernard
and his son Dom, and houseman, Syrian refugee Ari. Trouble
arises when Ophelia, the daughter of Jean-Paul's neighbor,
disappears, especially as she was last seen in the company
of Ahmad Nabi, a fellow refugee being tutored by Ari. Nabi
is also missing. It is important that the teens be found before
anti-refugee sentiments get out of control.
one always curious as to what others say about one? The beginning
is a perfect setup for the protagonist to introduce herself
and the community in which she now lives, as well as the home
in which she now abides. A very well-done summary brings new
readers up to date on Maggie, her life, and career.
in France, the dialogue includes common French words and phrases.
One needn't be bilingual; however, their meaning is either
easily inferred, or they are immediately translated, often
one cannot have a story set in France without wonderful food.
Ari's fish soup of tomatoes, grilled haddock, onion, garlic,
peppers, and fresh oregano sets the juices flowing. However,
meals also serve as a way to learn more about the characters,
and Syrian refugees—"Afghans don't have surnames
unless they decide to adopt one." …"I had
learned that the current wave of refugees pouring out of mid-eastern
war zones were, like Ari, more likely to represent their nation's
educated urban elite than any other group."
underlying theme of the story couldn't be more relevant; prejudice,
fear, and distrust of those who are different while those
who are afraid never make the effort to reach out. It is an
irrational fear of the "other" based only on the
fact that they are different from "us." This transitions
nicely into the equally timely issue of bullying. Hornsby
manages this in a way which is easy and natural to the scene.
is nice to see the character of the police, in this case,
a policewoman, go from being an adversary to an ally. The
detective's reference to Maggie as the fictional Inspector
Maigret is delightful.
Maggie is a wonderful character. One can't help but admire
her for the way she can handle a difficult situation. All
of Hornsby's characters are very human and relatable. This
is never truer than when she turns an antagonist into someone
for whom we feel true sympathy. Lest one think everything
is dark and grim, rest assured there are interjections of
humor-- "Detective Delisle has her eye on you."
… "Tread gently, my friend, … She packs heat."
Those who love Shakespeare may chuckle at the summary of "Hamlet."
Such bits as these add both veracity and a soupçon
of relief to the seriousness of the story.
Bouquet of Rue" is as much a commentary on today's social
issues as it is a mystery. It is highly effective in both
aspects. It reminds us that schadenfreude—pleasure derived
by one at the misfortune of another--and the "domino
effect of revenge" is a fascinating, and rather dangerous,
principle worth contemplating. Yet the story also reminds
one that life goes on.