They say the third time's the charm. I recently read two books by Jean Giono: Hill and A King Alone. Both are considered classics of his and neither particularly moved me. The writing was beautiful--no question about that--but there was not the semblance of a plot; I ended up lost in each (and not in a good way).

Luckily, all that changed with Song of the World. The writing is, once again, first-rate, but this time there is a coherent plot--and it's riveting. Two men from the Provence region of France set out on a journey to find one of the men's sons, missing and feared murdered. Along the way they come upon a blind woman giving birth in a forest, witness a murder, and uncover the story of the missing son. It is a story of love and vendetta.

Simply to say that the writing is gorgeous doesn't really do it justice, though. It's seductive and pulls you into a world of its own making, one so real you swear it is real and which sticks in your mind long after you finish the final page. The characters Giono creates are people you care about, whom you come to know with all their quirks and eccentricities, their humanity. Five stars, and more Giono books for me!