I love, love, love historical fiction. And I love Kristin Harmel. So what could be better than this one?
When Ruby moves to Paris with her new husband, she has no idea what’s in store for the both of them. Sure, war is knocking on the door. But things can’t get that bad, can they? After all, she’s an American so she’ll undoubtedly be safe. As she soon finds out, however, nobody is truly safe in these uncertain times.
She naturally assumes the worst when her husband begins to sneak around, to disappear for days at a time. She could never imagine, though, what he’s actually involved in. And soon she finds herself involved as well.
This was a very enjoyable story. It’s beautiful and epic and emotional and so many other things along with quite an ending!
There are a couple of signs that a book really WOWED me. If I finish it within a couple of days, it’s a given. But, whenever I feel compelled to immediately write a review, well then you can be sure it’s a winner.
Clara doesn’t want for much of anything, but her life is anything but easy. Growing up as the daughter of a famous ballet dancer has put enormous pressure on her going back as far as she can remember. She’s always felt as if she can’t measure up to her beautiful, graceful, and excessively thin mother. So it’s no surprise that she’s developed an eating disorder. Maybe not the binging and purging or wasting away type, but still. Under the guise of healthy eating, she’s obsessively concerned with everything she puts into her mouth. And who can blame her? She’s just following her mother’s example, after all.
When things go too far, however, she finds herself sent off to visit her estranged father for the summer. Sure, it’s in Paris. But it also means she has to spend the summer with her stepmother and a brother she doesn’t even know. To make matters more difficult in her mind, he’s on the autism spectrum. Will they be able to help each other?
There are so many important things going on in this story, things that almost any young person or adult can relate to. There’s a nontraditional, blended family as a result of divorce. There’s a love interest, of course. Because what young adult story wouldn’t have one? And then there are the more serious issues, eating disorders and children with autism spectrum disorders.
This is the rare young adult book that I actually feel safe recommending for truly young adults. It provides a true look at real issues faced by many young people without delving into the culture of sex, drugs, and alcohol so prominent in many of today’s books marketed toward young people. A great story!
This is how you know we muses (and Pegasus) post honest, unbiased reviews, folks:
There I was reading this lovely story, not remembering the title or author, but impressed with the writing and basking in extravagant descriptions of Parisian food, shopping, and architecture. I thought, “Wow, this book reminds me of Anita Hughes’ novels. Everything is so luxurious and magical. The romance is subtle, slow, and authentic.”
And I kept reading, enjoying the serendipitous meetings of Isabel and Alec. Balconies, cobblestones, gardens, restaurants. I loved the magic of the fortune teller and her adorable daughter. Mathieu was the PERFECT wingman, and Bettina the perfect wicked stepsister.
I just couldn’t get enough.
After a satisfying happily ever after I finally checked the title and author.
What a lovely story! I keep saying I don’t like flashbacks in a story but I think I do like it if done well. Laura Madeleine does it well! I adored the story of the poor country boy falling in love with pastry and Mme Clermont. Author Madeleine painted 1910 patisserie life with just the right amount of romance and beauty, and juxtaposed it perfectly with the grit of railroads, brothels, and street thugs.
Flash forward to 1988 where phD student Petra gets sidetracked trying to clear her grandfather’s name and unravel the great Clermont mystery… I just as much enjoyed Petra’s phone calls and literal legwork trying to figure out clues about her grandfather. I was psyched for Petra’s ride on the back of Alex’s motorbike, and glad to see that the romance of 1910 carried over to modern times.
I think I would have been able to get more lost in the story if Madeleine had stuck with the 1910 matters, but it was gratifying to see how it all played out in the end – a type of closure I wouldn’t have been able to experience unless the 1988 story existed as well.
When Claire Broussard finds mysterious letters and a plaster death mask in her Louisiana grandmother’s attic, she takes it as a sign she needs to leave her directionless life and head for Paris.
I was fascinated by the flashbacks to historical Paris, when artists “hired” models to live with them and be their subjects. It was fun to learn this bit of history and have it come to life in a work of fiction. Since I’m not usually a fan of historical fiction, even better was reading how it intersected with Claire’s life in modern times. I liked seeing the new excitement in Claire. Blackwell developed Claire’s character well, illustrating how being ultra focused on the mystery of the death mask was part of her grieving process… and proved to be cathartic.
I loved the ending – maybe predictable for some, but I didn’t guess it ahead of time. I was too enamored with Claire’s new Parisian life – a testament to Blackwell’s ability to draw me in to every facet of the story and keep me there until the next chapter came along.
Rosalie had high hopes for her humble wishing card shop in the middle of Paris. She had little idea a famous author would stumble in and change her world. She had absolutely no notion she’d have another gentleman stroll in … and rock her world.
This charming book had me aahhing and mmmm’ing and sighing, as well as laughing with tears in my eyes. Barreau’s descriptions of Paris streets and pastries brought me back to my one and only trip abroad when I was in my twenties.
The famous author’s past offered the reader a cozy mystery and provided opportunities for Barreau to flesh out Rosalie’s character. Though Rosalie was primarily an artist and shopkeeper, we got to know her better through her mystery-solving endeavors and interactions with other characters.
My favorite part of this book was finding out about a secret love story in addition to the obvious one. Paris once, Paris twice, Paris always.
This isn’t my usual type of read at all. However, past experiences of dipping my toes in other genres have proven successful in finding one of my favourite reads (The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel), so I thought I’d give it another go! Now, I’ll tell you upfront, this book didn’t turn out to be a favourite read of mine, but a solid choice nonetheless.
Nina George is German based writer, and so I was initially concerned that this book may get lost in translation (remember my experiences with the Dutch novels?), however, it remains rather neutral.
Set in modern day Paris, The Little Paris Bookshop follows Jean Perdue, a bookseller that sells his products from a river boat. Jean is very in-tune with his customer’s feelings and knows exactly what they should read in order to make them feel better, much like a chemist, but the prescription is books!
We learn that Jean’s wive left him quite a few years ago, and one day he finds a letter that explains a lot. This sets of a trip he takes down the river Seine and throughout France.
Along the way he meets a host of characters and experiences life like he never had whilst in Paris.
George writes a good story and I will be reading further offerings from this author. The characters are realistic (to a point), and are given enough emotion so that the reader cares about them. If you’ve never been to Paris, or France in general, you will want to go after reading this, so start saving those pennies! If you’ve been before, you will want to re-visit, so again, I say to you, start saving those pennies!
This novel is a mixture of heartbreak, comedy, and passion. Passion for fellow human beings and indeed passion for books. Sometimes, an eye roll did almost occur, however, this is a nice light read and should be taken for what it is. If you’re looking for something different, but not too different, then definitely give this one a chance!