Tuesday, November 18, 2014

The Paris Winter by Imogen Robertson

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.

My thoughts...In this breathtaking tale, Robertson takes you to Paris 1909. I could see, feel and touch the poverty surrounding Maud Heighton. Her English background keeps her from letting anyone around her know of her dire circumstances. She is so close to completing her time at Lafond, she just needs to get through one more Paris Winter. I'm not sure I've met a protagonist I could relate more closely with than Maude. Her integrity meant so much to her. When a job for the Morel family falls into her lap, it seems an answer to prayer. The perfect job. She quickly becomes friends with Sylvie and wants nothing more than to help her, carelessly forgetting to be wary of something being too good to be true. Suddenly with almost no warning the tides change. Maude is no longer the quiet English girl.

The first part of the novel, I simply loved reading the beautifully written detail, getting to know the characters, being carried away by the romance and beauty of the time and yet at the same time seeing poverty and darkness the rest of Paris had to offer. Then I kept waiting for something bad, something big...when things for Maud begin to unravel I was taken aback. I wasn't ready nor could I figure out what was going on (I love that!). I had to know. I had to understand.

The twist and turns of The Paris Winter had me reading into the late hours. Not only was the story itself keeping me fully engaged, but the characters themselves. I wanted to watch how everything would come together or fall apart. I don't want to say too much about the end because I'm not a fan of spoilers and if I say too much I take away from the reader experiencing everything. I will say the closer to the end of the book the harder and harder it became to walk away from the story. Light a fire, cuddle up with a blanket and a copy of THE PARIS WINTER! Highly recommending!

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