'Last Estate' an endearing tale of romance

"The Last Estate" by Conor Bowman; 978-1-57962-203-9; Pages: 168; $26; August 2010; cloth; novel; The Permanent Press.

Author Conor Bowman spent many summers in France which influenced his writing this compelling book, "The Last Estate," about a young boy becoming a man.

This is a bittersweet story of 16-year-old Christian Aragon. He narrates this tale about his life in the southern part of France in a small village called Gigondas after World War I. It is 1920 and Christian is about to graduate. When his older brother Eugene is killed in the war, Christian's future is changed forever. His brutal father expects him to take over the family vineyards, but Christian does not want anything to do with his father's estate.

He has plans of his own. His interests are not about wine at all, rather they're directed to the beautiful and kind Vivienne Pleyben, his geography teacher. Ms. Pleyben becomes more than his teacher and they fall in love.

Christian dreads the end of the school year because he knows he has to make a choice. Either he stays and runs the family business or he leaves his hometown with Vivienne so they can share a future together. He is angry that his brother died, causing him to be the chosen one to stay as the family winemaker.

The story changes dramatically when the student and the teacher begin their love affair and suspicions rise. They may be in love, but neither is prepared for a murderous crime committed in their town and the dire consequences that disrupt their lives.

You will need to read the book to find out what happens.

A surprise twist ending awaits the reader.

Modern day romances are emulated in this story about the 1920s. Choices we make in our lives today are just the same as those which faced Christian and Vivienne when their story unfolds. The consequences faced by them make a poignant narrative.

Conor Bowman has penned an endearing tale of a young man who you will not soon forget. As you share in his experiences, he will bring back our memories that we often reminisce about. Here is a story that will tug at your heart with colorful characters.

Bowman lives and works in Ireland. His previous books, published in Ireland, are: "Wasting by Degrees" (a novel) and "Life and Death and in Between" (a collection of short stories).

His next novel, "The Redemption of George Baxter Henry," will be published in 2011.

Conor comes from a tradition of Irish storytellers who have been recognized as outstanding, and you are highly encouraged to read this book.

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