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The Natural History of Love

Caroline Petit

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Affirm Press
01 May 2022
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ABBEY'S BOOKSELLER PICK ----- Based on the true story of French 19th century Count de Castelnau and his illicit love affair with an upper class daughter of Brazilian Portuguese descent, this novel is told through the voices of the main characters, and the lawyer called in to deal with the count's estate after his death in Melbourne. Francois is on an exploration in Brazil when he falls seriously ill and is delivered to the Fonceca plantation by his native guide. Carolina, the headstrong 16yo daughter falls passionately in love with the older Count, and he reciprocates - without telling her he has a wife and son back in France. When they are forced to marry by Carolina's brutal brother, she discovers her perilous position - but makes a decision which will have far-reaching consequences. Francois takes a position in the newly prosperous city of Melbourne, and the two maintain a façade of respectability, but their secrets undermine their happiness. It took me a little while to get used to the various forms of narration, but the story is one of those fact-is-stranger-than-fiction tales, and quite engrossing, with vivid characterisation and colourful settings. Lindy

For fans of Elizabeth Gilbert's The Signature of All Things, The Dictionary of Lost Words, The Natural History of Love is based upon the true story of 19th century French explorer, naturalist and diplomat the Count de Castelnau and his lover Madame Fone eca; a sweeping historical narrative set in the wilds of Brazil, salons of Paris and the early days of Melbourne's settlement.

When Melbourne lawyer Nathan Smithson takes on the case of mad, wealthy Edward Fone eca's inheritance trial against his ruthless brother in 1902, he must unearth long-buried family secrets to have any chance of winning.

Brazil, 1852: Fran ois, the Count de Castelnau and French Consul to Bahia falls dangerously ill on a naturalist expedition and is delivered by a Tupi Indian to the Fone eca household. Carolina Fone eca is 16 years old and longing to leave the confines of her family's remote Brazilian sugar plantation. With a head full of Balzac and dreams of Parisian life, she is instantly beguiled by the middle-aged Frenchman. What Carolina doesn't know is that Fran ois has a wife and son back in France. Desperate for a new life, she makes a decision that will haunt her forever.
 The Natural History of Love

Imprint:   Affirm Press
Country of Publication:   Australia
Dimensions:   Height: 234mm,  Width: 154mm,  Spine: 31mm
Weight:   510g
ISBN:   9781922711434
ISBN 10:   1922711438
Pages:   400
Publication Date:  
Audience:   General/trade ,  ELT Advanced
Format:   Paperback
Publisher's Status:   Active

Caroline Petit was born in Washington D.C., raised in Maryland and now lives in Melbourne with her husband. She is a graduate of Chatham College in Pittsburgh that included studying at The London School of Economics, and holds advance degrees from Johns Hopkins University, the University of Melbourne's School of Law and a Graduate Arts Diploma in Professional Writing and Editing from RMIT. Her previous novels, The Fat Man s Daughter and Deep Night, were published in the US by Soho Press.

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