Author: Jennifer Robson
Links: Bookshop (affiliate link) |Goodreads
Summary: Fantastic historical details and relationship building made this an outstanding read.
After a near fatal illness, Lady Helena Montagu-Douglas-Parr is determined to get over the public snubs that followed her abandonment by her fiance and to truly live. She decides to move to Paris to live with her unconventional aunt, where she can be more independent and pursue her passion for art. Once there, her harsh art teacher and her attraction to an entirely unsuitable American newspaperman, Sam, will force her to decide whether she wants the conventional life her family sees for her and whether she’s brave enough to pursue a life she loves.
I really liked that the author gave the main character a background that would make her choice to live an unconventional life believable. As with her previous book, Somewhere in France, the author did a great job putting her heroine at the forefront of social change, allowing Helena to be admirably unconventional without feeling too modern for her time. The relationships were also exceptionally believable. I can point to specific reasons Helena fell for Sam and to scenes that were clearly relationship building. Even better, the same is true of Helena’s relationship with her friends and family. I understood why she was close to all of them and I appreciated that, together with her love of art, they gave her a full life, not exclusively focused on romance.
The plot was somewhat predictable and some of the relationship drama came from people not talking to each other (a pet peeve of mine), but that didn’t take away from my enjoyment of the book. It helped that the setting was just as good as the characters. The author did an amazing job giving us a cross-section of life in 1920’s Paris. I enjoyed seeing how the upper class lived and also at least a bit of how everyone else lived. The little details of daily life were fascinating and worked into the story completely naturally, with no info dumps. I loved how different Helena and her friends were as well. They gave a broader view of how people lived in the 1920’s, while Sam’s job as a newspaperman made it easy for the author to work in the bigger picture events of the time period as well. The name-dropping of famous authors and artists in Paris at the same time was also a lot of fun.
I thought this was incredibly well done historical fiction. The characters were engaging and the setting enriched the story. Jennifer Robson is definitely going on my list of must-read authors and if you love historical fiction, I’d recommend adding her to yours as well.
For some other perspectives, check out the other stops on the tour.