Review: Overture by Vanessa Couchman

Today, I'm sharing a review I wrote back in late 2019. I'm sure you'll find it interesting, especially if you love books set in France.

Overture (the first novel in the L'Alouette trilogy) by fellow Ocelot Press author, Vanessa Couchman, is a wonderful tale of coming of age in very different times. 

Readers of sweeping historical novels will enjoy discovering this journey of a young girl, with big dreams of becoming an opera singer, from rural Aveyron in south-west France to the glamour of Paris at the dawn of the 20th century!


L'Alouette Trilogy Book 1

Vanessa Couchman

historical fiction

We begin in rural Aveyron, south-west France, in 1897.

Marie-Thérèse is a young girl born into a farming family living on a rented farm near a small village. Gifted with a beautiful singing voice, she dreams of becoming a professional singer – at a time when that profession was by far not as accepted as it is now. Highly intelligent, she also knows her place as a dutiful daughter of God-fearing parents, though she doesn't give up on her dreams.

When tragedy strikes, her life is thrown into turmoil.

Overture is a beautifully-written tale of a young girl following her dreams. We feel for her when she fails to convince the professionals and when her mother puts her foot down, trying to keep her on a more respectable path. And we rejoice with her when she receives praise for her beautiful voice.

Marie-Thérèse comes to life with her emotions and actions; her aunt and uncle are real 'characters', flawed and caring beneath a blustery exterior; Frédéric, her mentor in Paris, is intriguing.

Ms Couchman conveys a deep sense of setting in Overture. Through Marie-Thérèse's eyes, we 'see' Aveyron and its rolling hills of fields and forests, and we feel the vibrant city that Paris was at the turn of the last century.

Readers who like historical fiction with a young heroine following her dreams, facing hardships and challenges, will love Overture, as will readers of novels set in France.

As Overture is the first in a trilogy, I'm very much looking forward to the next instalment in Marie-Thérèse's personal and musical journey...



She has a burning ambition, but everything conspires against her dreams.

France, 1897. Born to a modest farming family, Marie-Thérèse has a remarkable singing voice and wants to become a professional singer. But too many obstacles, including her parents' opposition, stand in her way. And, through no fault of her own, she makes a dangerous enemy of the local landlord.

When the family circumstances change suddenly, Marie-Thérèse and her mother must move to Paris to work in her aunt's restaurant. Her ambitions rekindle, but the road to success is paved with setbacks until a chance meeting gives her a precious opportunity.

She is close to achieving all her dreams, but the ghosts of the past come back to haunt her and threaten Marie-Thérèse's life as well as her career.

Overture is the first in a trilogy set in France, starting in 1897 and finishing at the end of World War II. 

Buy links: 

Amazon UK:

Amazon US:

Amazon France:


About the Author:

Vanessa Couchman

Vanessa moved to southern France in 1997 and hasn't looked back. Being a "history nut", she's in totally the right place. The beguiling Mediterranean island of Corsica also provides great inspiration, and she visits whenever she can.

Two of her three novels, THE HOUSE AT ZARONZA and THE CORSICAN WIDOW, are set on Corsica; the third, OVERTURE, is set in Southwest France and Paris, as is AUGUSTINE, a novella prequel.

Vanessa's short stories have been placed in writing competitions and published in anthologies. The stories in FRENCH COLLECTION: TWELVE SHORT STORIES are inspired by and set in France.

When she's not writing, Vanessa is reading, singing, walking, or enjoying France's famed cuisine and wine. She writes a popular blog about French life, Life on La Lune.

Vanessa loves to hear from readers and always replies. Find her on


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