It’s been a long time since I’ve written a WFW book review, and I’m beyond excited to tell you about The Light of Paris by Eleanor Brown—from a writer’s perspective, of course. As you recall, I’m not much into “book report” reviews, and since I don’t finish reading books I don’t like, you can assume anything I finish, tweet, FB, or review, I liked or loved.
Much easier than counting stars.
The Light of Paris a story of lives and love, of families and traditions, told in two time periods and on two continents.
In present-day Chicago we meet Madeleine, who’s a sympathetic main character right away. (This is what writers of women’s fiction strive for, yet not all achieve.) I was rooting for Madeleine right away, before I even had a clear sense of everything that was wrong in her life or why. I wanted her to be okay. No, I wanted her to be more than okay. Then, Madeleine takes a stand and takes risks. As an author, Eleanor Brown is able to capture both the excitement and fear Madeleine experiences as she goes home to stay with her difficult (to say the least) mother in order to move forward in her own life. So much conflict!
We also meet Madeleine’s grandmother Margie as she embarks on a journey (literal and figurative) to Paris. It’s the 1920s. Margie has also left a unhappy life behind to unwittingly discover the life she wants to live. As Madeleine learns about her grandmother through journals, we learn along with her, both by being in Paris with Margie, and through Madeleine’s observations, which also are reference in the present-day chapters. This was a fascinating POV for me to read, as I felt both like I was in Paris with Margie and in Madeleine’s head. The two stories intertwine as Madeleine learns so much about herself, uncovers family secrets, and is able to embrace the present, thwart traditions, in a way that was difficult for her grandmother to do so many years before.
It’s not surprising that the language is lovely and descriptions are vivid — that they evoke emotions in a way that is clearly finessed, yet in no way forced.
Like millions of readers, I’ve been waiting for Eleanor’s new book since I fell in love with her lauded debut, The Weird Sisters, in 2011.
Here’s my copy! I also have a paperback that’s packed away!
I also met Eleanor “by accident” at The Printer’s Row Lit Fest in Chicago in 2011 (OMG FIVE YEARS AGO) when I was there as a fan and a blogger, at a panel of women authors, and Eleanor was in the audience. She and Meg Waite Clayton were so inclusive that I felt like an author even though I had an agent but it before my debut novel even sold to St. Martin’s Press. My friend and critique partner, Pamela Toler will tell you her she witnessed first-hand me go all fangirl on Meg and Eleanor. I don’t think any of us look like this anymore — but I love this photo because you can totally see the crazy fangirl in my eyes!
Am I wrong? (Just ask Pam. Not wrong.)