THE PARIS WINTER, by Imogen Robertson, is not just a pretty cover. Even though the cover is pretty amazing.
There are a lot of books out there nowadays about Paris and France. But this one is a stand alone that holds its own. Starving artists, con men and women, and an impressionable young woman who ends up being oh-so-much stronger than I imagined she could be.
It’s Saturday, 20 November 1909, Paris. Maud Heighton is studying art at the Academie Lafond on this frosty morning in the city of light. She’s just learned of the suicide of a fellow student. Everyone is pale and shocked at this turn of events. It is a harsh reality for these young women students. They quite literally are starving artists and go to unbearable lengths to learn the art of painting.
We discover that Maud is an Englishwoman who’s made her way to Paris determined against all odds to hone her skills. Leaving what little family she has behind, she’s scrimping and eating barely a bit of bread each day in order to be able to stretch her pittance. When a young very well-to-do Russian woman takes her under her wing, Maud feels her life is about to change in a big way. Yes, it truly is.
Throughout the novel there are titles of famous paintings and explanations of each. They have been extracted from the catalogue notes to the exhibition The Paris Winter: Anonymous Treasures from the de Civray Collection’, Southwark Picture Gallery, London, 2010.
Academie Lafond is fictional, however, the school is based on Academie Julian which did exist. Several of the characters are based on real people who lived in this time period. Best of all is the backdrop of the flooding of Paris in 1910. Robertson’s use of this historical event is brilliant to move her story along.
Robertson takes her time setting up Maud’s story. Stay with it because it is so worth the wait. Suddenly, this good story becomes amazing. Winter is a cruel character in this story. And the sense of place is simply stunning told through the eyes of someone who has walked these boulevards and experienced the absolute joy and sorrow of Paris.
Once a secret is unveiled, THE PARIS WINTER becomes unputdownable! It becomes a broad all- encompassing tale of intrigue, envy, friendship, and revenge. Those of you who have been following my reviews for any length of time know that I LOVE a good tale of revenge! Well, here it is folks.
THE PARIS WINTER, by Imogen Robertson, is sure to please. It has it all. Robertson’s attention to detail is pristine. She manages to make even the most mundane situation pop and sparkle. Imogen Robertson’s THE PARIS WINTER will haunt you long after you’ve turned the final pages. And then there are the diamonds…
My beautiful copy of THE PARIS WINTER, by Imogen Robertson, arrived from St. Martin’s publishing company. I can’t thank them enough. They have a sure hit on their hands with this one!