Ah, THE LIGHT OF PARIS, by Eleanor Brown. Just seeing the shape of the Eiffel Tower on the cover makes me smile. Makes me wish to hop on a plane and fly to France; to Paris.
Eleanor Brown is the NYT bestselling author of THE WEIRD SISTERS. Much acclaimed and beloved, her first novel proved just how powerful a writer Brown is. Now she’s back with THE LIGHT OF PARIS. And we get to fall in love with her all over again.
It’s 1999 andMadeleine is escaping her miserable existence with her husband as the story opens. They’ve had words and she has decided to run home to Magnolia where her mother still holds court. She’s been unhappily married to Phillip with his perfect persona and cookie-cutter profile. She needs to get away and think. What appears to outsiders as a perfect marriage filled with privilege and love, has actually become a prison full of mundane days and even worse nights.
In Magnolia, Madeleine finds to her surprise that her mother is putting her house on the market. She’s selling the only home Madeleine has ever known. Of course this threatens Madeleine’s psyche more than ever. Since they’ve never been close, this causes an even broader chasm. But Madeleine digs in and decides to help mom prepare the house for sale, getting rid of unneeded artifacts and unwanted junk. As she’s pawing through the attic she comes across an old journal written by her grandmother during the three months she spent in Paris in the twenties. She tucks it away and takes it to her room to be read later, in private.
Now it’s the twenties and Margie is getting to the age where her family thinks she should be married. But she is not ready, and even if she were, no man has come forth to claim her hand. Her parents shuffle her off across the pond to be chaperone to her irascible cousin Evelyn. What a trial. This young woman is a terror. She’s hooked up with a wild crowd and once they reach France Evelyn disappears with her new friends and leaves Margie high and dry in Paris. Of course Margie’s mother insists she immediately book passage and return home. But Margie has fallen in love with Paris and the light. And she’s met someone…She’s not going anyplace, any time soon.
This novel began slowly for me. Almost too slow. But, as soon as Margie decided to throw caution to the wind in the City of Light, I was enchanted. When she meets a secretive young artist, my interest peaked potentially.
I love reading about strong women. Especially those who become strong over all the odds. There is such a message here.
Forward to 1999 again and find Madeleine settling into a new life in the small town of her youth. Brown so brought this enchanting art community to life that I looked forward to its return. A gleeful place filled with happy people doing what they love. After all, isn’t that what life should be about!
So, does Madeleine leave Phillip? Do Madeleine and her mother come to terms with their relationship? And what of Margie? Does she stay in Paris?
This is a story with a lot of heart. A lot of struggle. And it gives us a lot of reasons and answers. Life is not always filled with what we want. And we often times must do what is morally right. It’s a story of honor and yet insists you simply must strive to make your dreams come true.
I will be thinking about this story for a long time to come. I have the nice people at Putnam Publishing to thank for my review copy. Thank you, thank you! I totally enjoyed it.