Thursday, September 29, 2016

Book Review: Letters from Paris

I finished another book from my fall reading list today. Letters from Paris by Juliet Blackwell was fantastic, but did not get that way until the very end. This was not a novel I devoured in two or three days, instead the slow-paced story took me a week. 

I bought it and read it on my Kindle.

It was solidly good throughout most of the novel. The plot was interesting. It was about a modern day woman with a tragic childhood and who suddenly left a blah life behind to attend to her dying grandmother who had raised her. She rediscovered a work of art in the attic and her grandmother insisted she go to Paris where the masterpiece was made to discover secrets. As it turns out, the protagonist is a very curious woman, so following the funeral and since she is at a crossroads anyway, she actually made the trip and had quite an adventure! One that revealed secrets, sure, but also one that provided direction in her life. This story is intertwined with the subject of the artwork, a woman who also suffered tragedies and lived in Paris back in the 1890s. There was also the voice of a man who had worked in the workshop that produced this art and sold the intriguing product to the modern day woman's great-grandfather after World War II. The writing was wonderful and it made the story come alive. I could picture the setting, especially the beautifully set outdoor table in the garden with string lights at dinnertime! The character development was strong that you truly rooted for these women. ...but much of the novel was so slow-paced. Like a two-hour Parisian lunch. There was a mystery to be solved and there were not a lot of discoveries through the majority of the story. It was primarily about both the modern day woman's and the Belle Epoque woman's Parisian experiences. Not that all books have to move as quickly as a Dan Brown novel. Like I said, it was good, but then towards the end, it became truly fantastic. Not one, but two big twists enriched the novel. One was foreshadowed and the reader expects it when the main character figures it out, her best guess of what happened at that. The other was so shocking that I had difficulty believing it! It was nice for the two strong, brave women in the book to both find love and live happily ever after. 

Good fiction discusses life truths and this one was no different. Of course, tragedy hurts a person, causes them to break down and/or not live well in grief, but the scars that a tragedy gives ultimately serve to strengthen a person, a soul. After all, scar tissue is harder than the tissue how it was before. The modern day characters go further and believe that there is even beauty in this brokenness. Sometimes, you do not get over hardships in life and/or there is no reason for tragedy, but it becomes part of who you are, you eventually deal with it enough for it not hold you back in life in a major way any longer, you move forward. There was a much more light life lesson of savoring the simple things and using the/doing your best as well. The French lifestyle certainly appeals to me. In fact, after reading this novel, I put "good bread" on my grocery shopping list. I know that my friend who I occasionally have over on a weeknight for wine and antipasti or a quick dinner would definitely appreciate it.

This was the book that I was reading on my Kindle [on the right]
while at my favorite coffee shop on a vacation day yesterday.

I highly recommend this book. Be sure to stick with it though. Enjoy escaping to Paris! Because it all comes together in the end. It's worth it. Trust me.