I am delighted to be taking part in the blog tour for Roses of Marrakech by Rachel Clare. My thanks to Rachel Gilbey of Rachel’s Random Resources for inviting me on to the tour and to the publisher for my copy of the book, which I have reviewed honestly and impartially.
Roses of Marrakech is a breath-taking romantic fiction, set between 1944 and 2016. The story follows 36-year-old primary school teacher, Ivy Fielding, who suffers from a lack of self-esteem due to a facial birthmark. Her great-aunt Rose, who has always been her main source of emotional support, has just died, leaving her a bequest as well as her Lavenham cottage to Ivy and her mother. Ivy discovers tragedies in her family’s past while reading her late great-aunt’s diary, and this inspires her to fulfil a childhood dream and she jets off to Marrakech for the summer holidays.
Set against the backdrop of wartime Suffolk and the present-day spice-scented souks of Morocco, Ivy follows a trail of discovery that will change her life and those around her, forever.
But when uncomfortable secrets of the past begin to surface, can she find the courage to confront them, or is it easier to walk away?
I was really keen to review this book as Marrakech is a place I have always wanted to visit and I loved the idea of being immersed in the place via a book whilst I wait to visit in real life. I also love a dual timeline story, so I thought this might tick all my boxes.
The dual timeline worked really well, and the story of Rose and Ivy was immersive and moving. Rose’s wartime experiences were harrowing and heart-rending and made me immensely sad. It is terrible to think what women had to endure in the past, the heartbreak they suffered and the cover ups that caused rifts in families for generations. Equally, in the modern day, Ivy’s struggles and insecurities were emotive, I really connected with both of them and the love between the two women flowed off the page, making the revelations in the book even more poignant.
The parts set in Morocco did not disappoint, the author managed to bring the streets and souks of Marrakech to life and transport me right there. I could feel the sun on my skin, smell the rich spices and hear the clamour of the crowds. Through the novel, we explore all the major sights and attractions of the area, and you feel like you are taking the trip with Ivy and living her dream with her.
I have to say, there was a section in the middle of the book that was a little repetitive which slowed the pace. There was too much detail about what Rose was wearing and what she was having for every meal and it did make the middle section of the book drag somewhat and make me wish we could get back to the action, some judicious editing in this part would have helped a little. I did find the author had an odd turn of phrase in parts too, which made me stop and took me out of the story for a few moments, which was a little distracting at times.
However, overall this was a fascinating read and I found the themes explored through the story thought-provoking. The perils of wartime relationships and the travails of women in that era, Ivy’s struggles with her insecurities due to her facial birthmark, grief and, most interestingly, an exploration of how we project our own fears and insecurities onto other people and assume that this is what they think. It is really sympathetically done.
A worthwhile read.
Roses of Marrakech is out now and you can buy a copy here.
Make sure you follow the rest of the tour as detailed below:
About the Author
Rachel gained a BA (Hons) in French/English at Liverpool Hope University and an MA in Modern Languages Research at Lancaster University before training to be a journalist. She now lives in Lancaster and teaches French in a primary school. She has enjoyed writing stories since she was a child and coming runner up in a Sunday Express story competition gave her the confidence to write her first novel, Roses of Marrakech.
Whenever I go on holiday, I always take my notebook with me. Visiting Morocco and Lavenham a few years ago, I made notes of my impressions of the places I visited and began writing the book when I returned”, comments Rachel. “In the book, Ivy’s struggles with coming to terms with her birthmark are based on my own experiences with cerebral palsy, whilst the characters, Violet and Eleanor are based on my great-aunts who both died of TB in the late 1920s.”