Imogen Robertson’s break-out novel – a deep, dark and opulent tale of Belle epoque Paris, and the secrets and dangers hidden beneath its luxurious facade. Maud Heighton came to Lafond’s famous Academie to paint, and to flee the constraints of her small English town. It took all her courage to escape, but Paris eats money. While her fellow students enjoy the dazzling joys of the Belle epoque, Maud slips into poverty. Quietly starving, and dreading another cold Paris winter, Maud takes a job as companion to young, beautiful Sylvie Morel. But Sylvie has a secret: an addiction to opium. As Maud is drawn into the Morels’ world of elegant luxury, their secrets become hers. Before the New Year arrives, a greater deception will plunge her into the darkness that waits beneath this glittering city of light.
If I hear anything Paris, I will normally snatch a book up in a heartbeat. That is was set in the past had me a little iffy, but I gave in and am glad I did.
This book was a roller coaster for not only the characters, but also myself. Poor Maude, literally poor, seems to hit the motherload – getting a job with room and board. All she has to do is spend time with another young woman, who has ailing health. She can still get to her art classes. And she even has friends now. All is well…. until it’s not anymore. And when it’s bad, it’s very bad and Maude is left with less than she started with. At least originally she had her reputation, although there wasn’t much to know about her.
So that’s why Maude was on a roller coaster. The coaster I was on had to do with the plot. At first, it was hard for me to get into the book, then I couldn’t put it down, then it started to fall flat for me again, then it picked up and ended strong. The book had several strong points, including the characters, many parts of the story line, several little love stories, and a major crime. The part of the book that was slow for me, there was nothing wrong with it. You have to have it to tell the story, but I knew there was something more coming and I wanted to it to get there faster.
I loved how Robertson wrote this story. What always makes me nervous about historical books is the writing. Many times, it’s over my head and I don’t understand the dialect. That was not the case in this one and I felt like I really was able to jump back in time and be part of the story.
I also enjoyed how Robertson portrayed the female characters and their struggles in the early 1900s, and did so with strong female characters who were well beyond their time.
I always like little touches that authors add to their stories that make them different. Robertson did this very well. She described the settings with notes from a collection of art. I skimmed through many of these, but plan to go back and read them more thoroughly now that I have the book finished. This is just a habit of mine. I like to focus on the story, then go back and read the extras and get a better idea of how they fit into the story.
I give The Paris Winter 4 out of 5 bookmarks.
Come back tomorrow for a Q&A to learn more about Roberston and what she learned in writing this book.