Author: Jennifer Robson
Publisher: William Morrow
Type of book: Paris France, 1923-1925, history, friendship, family, finding self, romance, art, writing, daily life, class differences,
Year it was published: 2016
USA Today and internationally bestselling author Jennifer Robson takes readers to 1920s Paris in an enthralling new historical novel that tells the riveting story of an English lady who trades in her staid aristocratic life for the mesmerizing salons and the heady world of the Lost Generation.
It’s the spring of 1924, and Lady Helena Montagu-Douglas-Parr has just arrived in France. On the mend after a near-fatal illness, she is ready to embrace the restless, heady allure of the City of Lights. Her parents have given her one year to live with her eccentric aunt in Paris and Helena means to make the most of her time. She’s quickly drawn into the world of the Lost Generation and its circle of American expatriates, and with their encouragement, she finds the courage to pursue her dream of becoming an artist.
One of those expats is Sam Howard, a journalist working for the Chicago Tribune. Irascible, plain-spoken, and scarred by his experiences during the war, Sam is simply the most fascinating man she has ever met. He’s also entirely unsuitable.
As Paris is born anew, rising phoenix-like from the ashes of the Great War, Helena realizes that she, too, is changing. The good girl she once was, so dutiful and obedient, so aware of her place in the world, is gone forever. Yet now that she has shed her old self, who will she become, and where, and with whom, does she belong…?
In the story the main characters include Lady Helena Montagu-Douglas-Parr, a woman of about 28 who is reeling from a recent bout of Spanish flu as well as a broken engagement which makes her an outcast in the society. She is best described as generous, loyal, someone who tries very hard and she becomes determined to set up an identity separately from what she is given. Sam Howard is a journalist from America who works as a correspondent for Chicago Tribune in Europe as someone who creates news from cabled dispatches. He also carries his own secrets and wishes. The secondary characters would be Auntie Agnes Pavlovna, Etienne Moreau, and Daisy Fields. Auntie Agnes is an eccentric wealthy woman who breaks conventions and has unusual ideas for her time and class. Etienne Moreau is a good male friend of Helena who goes to an art academy with her and is thought of others to be a genius. He is loyal and is always there for Helena. Daisy Fields is a young American woman who is extremely devoted to her father at the cost of her own happiness and unfortunately she earns the ire of Maitre Czerny.
Its important to be true to self
The story is written in third person narrative from Helena's point of view. Helena does have cameos in the previous two books; Somewhere in France as well as After the War is Over, but the cameos are just cameos and nothing in-depth is learned about her in the previous two books. Its also not necessary to read the other two books because this one stands on its own very well. What is also interesting is that in this book the story is told straight from Helena's point of view. In the previous two books, the points of view were divided between the female heroines and the men, although in After the War is Over, the male of point of view tended to be diminished, and here its absent. Although it has been a while, this story tends to be antithesis to The Beautiful American by Jeannie Mackin which takes on more serious topics during the same time period in the same city.
In the last few years, I have had a chance to read the author's two other books; Somewhere in France and After the War is Over. While I enjoyed both of them, I felt that those two books needed some polishing and more confidence. With Moonlight Over Paris, the author steps up and creates a very polished story and at last she seems to have found her voice, or the style that brings out the best. The previous two books cover WWI and post WWI and they deal with very serious issues of war, emancipation of women, and PTSD. Strangely enough, Moonlight Over Paris offers a different perspective and tone than that of Somewhere in France and After the War. I could also sort of describe it as a very lighthearted attempt of historical fiction in 1920s in Paris, France. The issues of post WWI loom over but never conquer the story, and there is also more focus on Helena, which allows for the reader to watch her grow up from a young uncertain woman to someone confident and unafraid of being true to self. I also enjoyed seeing a brief glimpse of daily life in 1920s Paris and of meeting some famous personages. I also was surprised that I haven't heard of some personages that made appearances in the book. If the reader is looking for something lighthearted that takes place in Paris among the crowd of Lost Generation then this is not a book to disappoint.
This is for HFVBT
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4 out of 5
(0: Stay away unless a masochist 1: Good for insomnia 2: Horrible but readable; 3: Readable and quickly forgettable, 4: Good, enjoyable 5: Buy it, keep it and never let it go.)