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 received a copy of this book from The Book Guild in return for an honest review.
Dual timeline novels are particularly popular at the moment, especially where the historical timeline features one of the two world wars.
This story follows Ivy as she takes the trip of a lifetime to Marrakech in Morrocco in 2016, and Rose her recently deceased great-aunt who was a young woman during World War Two.
Ivy’s life to date has been defined by a permanent birthmark on her face. Rose always supported the often bullied girl, and her death forces Ivy to re-evaluate her life.
Finding Rose’s diaries and the hardship, poignancy and romance contained there, makes Ivy take the holiday she’s never been brave enough to take.
In Marrakech, she finds many things out about herself, and how her self-portrayal. affects how others respond to her. She finds romance and regains a little of her self-esteem. Family secrets that emerge challenge her new confidence and courage.
Wonderfully atmospheric, the time in Marrakech is vividly described and gives the book added depth and interest. The historical timeline is predictably sad and full of lost chances. The pacing of the book is a little slow in parts, but as a whole, this is a charmingly heartwarming story of past secrets, loss and self-realisation.
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”.