Letters from Paris by Juliet Blackwell
Historical Fiction/Women’s Fiction
Setting – Paris, France
Berkley Books (September 6, 2016)
An Imprint of Penguin Random House LLC
Paperback: 384 pages
E-Book – ASIN: B01BS7FY5Y
From the New York Times bestselling author of The Paris Key comes the story of a mysterious work of art and the woman inspired to uncover its history in the City of Light.
After surviving the accident that took her mother’s life, Claire Broussard has worked hard to escape her small Louisiana hometown. But these days she feels something is lacking. Abruptly leaving her lucrative job in Chicago, Claire returns home to care for her ailing grandmother. There, she unearths a beautiful piece of artwork that her great-grandfather sent home from Paris after World War II.
At her grandmother’s urging, Claire travels to Paris to track down the century-old mask-making atelier where the object, known only as “L’Inconnue”—or The Unknown Woman—was created. Under the watchful eye of a surly mask-maker, Claire discovers a cache of letters that offers insight into the life of the Belle Epoque woman immortalized in the work of art. As Claire explores the unknown woman’s tragic fate, she begins to unravel deeply buried secrets in her own life.
*Note there are mentions of suicides in this story.
Claire/Chance Broussard goes home to Louisiana to be with her grandmother as she lives out her last days. When she finds a broken piece of artwork in the attic. Her grandmother tells her to go to Paris. There is a story that goes with the artwork she found but she will only hear it in Paris. Soon after her grandmother passes Claire heads to Paris and the trip changes her life forever.
As soon as Claire found the broken mask I was on the internet so I had the right picture of the mask in my head. But this story was about so much more that a mask. Ms. Blackwell takes us back in time where we meet Sabine, a young woman working as an artist’s model. It was not the life she had imagined. Then we alternate and come to present day and Claire’s experiences in Paris. The author entwines these stories together to give us a wonderful story. One I had a hard time putting down.
The characters from past and present feel so alive and real. I found myself immersed both of their stories at times not wanting to switch back and forth, but the author’s way of doing this made each of the stories even more powerful. These characters are unique but in certain ways the same. The were both searching for something and what they found was so unexpected. There is a twist toward the end the totally just floored me. I just didn’t see it coming at all.
I enjoyed the description of the setting in both time periods and how over the years many of the places are virtually the same. I was so moved by Blackwell’s book The Paris Key that I ended my review of that book hoping to someday travel there. This book has me wishing even harder. I want to see with my own eyes and feel with my own hands these magnificent places.
I enjoyed learning the story of “The Unknown Woman of the Seine” even though yet again there was that suicide element. Learning about death masks was very interesting too. Somehow I feel as my son is nearby as I read these passages and he helps me know I can handle it and to just keep reading. The story overrides my moments of pain.
Letters from Paris is a story of discovery and strength, heartwarming and heartbreaking. A story that will resonate with everyone who reads it.
Find out more about Juliet Blackwell on her webpage here.
While both of these stories are set in Paris, they are stand alone novels.
Also by Juliet Blackwell
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Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. Receiving a complimentary copy in no way reflected my review of this book. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”