Madeleine is trapped – by her family’s expectations, by her controlling husband – in an unhappy marriage and a life she never wanted. But when she finds a diary detailing her grandmother Margie’s trip to Jazz Age Paris, she meets a woman she never knew: a dreamer who defied her strict family and spent a summer living on her own, and falling for a charismatic artist.
When Madeleine’s marriage is threatened, she escapes to her hometown to stay with her disapproving mother. Shaken by the revelation of a family secret and inspired by her grandmother’s bravery, Madeleine creates her own summer of joy. In reconnecting with her love of painting and cultivating a new circle of friends, the chance of a new life emerges – but will she be bold enough take it?
I actually really love stories that are set over two time periods, and have two different voices. It’s always so intriguing to me to hear from voices way back when, times I’ve never heard of or never experienced, it’s always really eye-opening and Margie’s life in the 1920s was both sad and amazing. It’s actually pretty scary how similar Margie and Madeleine’s lives are, considering there’s 70 years between them, but as it turns out, 70 years changes nothing when it comes to parental expectations, clearly. Considering what Margie goes through, it kind of baffled me how Madeleine’s life turned out, you would kind of hoped that something might have changed? But, no. I would have actually loved more of Margie’s story, because it just felt like there was more to the story, afterwards.
There was very little wrong with this book, I really loved Madeleine’s voice, and it was interesting to see her find herself, after so many years spent under other people’s thumbs. Sure, it kind of baffled me how she had lived her life – after all, this was not actually the 1920s but the late 1990s, so if she was unhappy in her marriage surely the right thing to do would be to leave? Instead of stay out of misguided loyalty? But, maybe that’s just the way for some people, and not having been in that situation myself it’s hard to judge. Seeing her in her element, in her hometown was amazing, and I loved her friendship with Henry. He completely brightened up the novel.
I really enjoyed The Light of Paris. The dual storyline was amazing – Madeleine’s voice was strong and really easy to read, and then Margie’s story really was thrilling, to see someone experiencing something so transformative was delightful. You could feel Margie’s excitement at being in Paris, you could literally walk the streets with her in your imagination. Eleanor Brown truly is an amazing storyteller, and if it takes her another four years to write book three, I am FINE WITH THAT. Because it is so, so worth the wait, and this will be a book I purchase and put on my keeper shelf, because it was truly delightful.