A WISHING SHELF BOOK REVIEW
2nd March 2022
TITLE: Béjart’s Caravan
AUTHOR: Bonnie Stanard
Star Rating: ****
I must admit, I spend a lot of my time enjoying plot- driven novels, so it was fun to finally get my hands on a book that's not so much focused on story, but on the characters. Béjart’s Caravan is an historical novel set in France and follows a troupe of actors as they perform from village to village. Vividly written by an author who understands the time and place, this is a delightful book filled with memorable and often rather over-the-top characters, from the desirable Isabelle who thinks only of travelling to Paris and being a star, to the rather obsessive Béjart, to the sheep herders and mongers who watch - and yell - at the performers.
Although the story is possibly in need of cutting a little, the author is a talented writer who excels in describing the vibrant settings and the complexity (needs and wants) of her characters. There is a flowery feel to the text which fits the historical nature of the novel, and the author works hard to
keep the speech authentic and in keeping with her characters’ lack of schooling.
In terms of what needs work. Well, the pacing is a little slow in parts, and I suspect a good editor would want to cut it just to get things moving. Saying that, it is agreeable to read a book by an author who's in no particular hurry, and who wants her readers to be fully immersed in the historical setting - and also fully get to know her troupe of characters.
All in all, I'm very happy to recommend this novel to anybody interested in a character-led story or, indeed, French culture back in the day. And I suspect, when you turn the final page, you’ll know the central characters so well, you’ll be wanting a sequel to find out what happens to them next.
Enjoy! A ‘Wishing Shelf’ Book Review www.thewsa.co.uk
Bonnie R. Stanard
Copyright Bonnie Stanard