From the Drop of Heaven

Legends, Prejudice, and Revenge

Fiction - Historical - Event/Era
296 Pages
Reviewed on 01/11/2023
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Author Biography

Always the history nerd, Juliette Godot has been working on her genealogy since childhood. Though she never
found any royal blood, she did find many noteworthy characters.

Juliette spent too many years expediting print jobs and collecting debts at a hardware co-op before dropping out
of the daily grind and going back to school. Upon graduation, she landed a software engineering position at
Carnegie Mellon University and spent the next fifteen years battling deadlines and traffic.

By then, she had over 40,000 ancestors catalogued, but she wanted to know more than just names on the family
tree. The quest to find her roots led her down the back roads of France to the unsung principality of Salm where
superstitions were part of everyday life. The myths and legends of the Renaissance and the grit of the people

    Book Review

Reviewed by Saifunnissa Hassam for Readers' Favorite

Juliette Godot's From the Drop of Heaven: Legends, Prejudice, and Revenge is historical fiction inspired by the author's 16th-century French ancestors. Catherine Cathillon de la Goutte de Paradis was Godot's thirteenth-generation grandmother. The family name "de la Goutte de Paradis" provides the title of the novel (which translates as 'from the drop of heaven') and refers to the beautiful Salm area in the French Vosges mountains. Set in the town of Vacquenoux in Salm, the account centers around the Cathillon and de la Goutte de Paradis families and follows the lives of three characters through the decades. The story begins when Catherine Cathillon was a young girl from a family of farmers. Nicolas de la Goutte de Paradis's father, Jean, was a blacksmith and the mayor of Vacquenoux. Martin was a student in Geneva when his professor was burned at the stake for sedition. He found refuge in Vacquenoux with Nicolas's family. Martin shares the banned books he receives from Strasbourg with Nicolas. Catherine learns to read from Nicolas. Their lives unfold through the years, with a constant undercurrent of danger from religious and political turmoil.

I enjoyed From the Drop of Heaven for its compelling characters, particularly Catherine Cathillon, Nicolas de la Goutte de Paradis, and Martin. I became immersed in the tangled web of their storylines from the outset. I liked the different backgrounds of the three major characters. Catherine is from a farming family, Nicolas becomes a silversmith, while Martin manages the Vacquenoux stables. I loved their character development, their inner journeys, and the drama of interactions within families and with other characters. I loved the interwoven narrative of how books draw them together. Catherine's inner journey was the most profound, from her early days on the farm to her incredible courage when faced with persecution. Martin's character comes into its own in the latter part of the novel when the Cathillon and de la Goutte de Paradis families face unexpected struggles for survival. I loved the rich evocative descriptions of Vacquenoux, its La Grande-Courty river, and the valley of Lac de la Maix. Juliette Godot's book is gripping, with memorable characters, life in 16th-century France, unflinching courage, resilience, and hope.