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Where the Light Falls

3.15  ·  Rating details ·  220 ratings  ·  41 reviews
A stunning debut novel of one woman's struggle with love and ambition during a revolutionary era in the City of Light.

As the Belle Epoque dawns, Paris attracts artists from everywhere. One is Jeanette Palmer, daughter of a prominent Ohio family, who has left Vassar College under a cloud of scandal.

Amid the city’s great bohemian neighborhoods and teaching studios, Jeanette
Paperback, 480 pages
Published February 5th 2013 by Berkley
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3.15  · 
Rating details
 ·  220 ratings  ·  41 reviews

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3.5 stars

In 1878, talented artist, Jeanette Palmer is expelled from Vassar College for helping a roommate elope. With encouragement from her favourite art teacher, she decides Paris is where she should pursue her training and career. Edward Murer, an American Civil War veteran is plagued by his time in the war and his ongoing battle with his addiction to laudanum. Supported by his brother, Edward decides to travel abroad through Europe, where he meets up with Jeanette in Paris.

This historical f
Connie Mayo
Mar 11, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Here is a test to see if you will like Where the Light Falls:

1) Do you think Paris was a glamorous city in the Belle Epoque period, where Monet and Matisse and Mary Cassatt were all rubbing elbows in the same arrondissment? or
2) Do you have any interest in the visual arts (painting, sculpture)? or
3) Do you like your female protagonists to have a brain in their head, so that they can balance a love interest with their ambition and talent? or
4) Do you like well written historical fiction?

If you ca
Sep 18, 2014 rated it did not like it
It took me a month and a half to read this book, even during my summer break. Why did I bother finishing it, then? Because Keenum unfortunately demonstrates how NOT to break writing rules, giving me, an aspiring writer, some examples of what not to do.

Rule 1: Show, don't tell.
This is by FAR the most irritating thing about Where the Light Falls. Keenum insists on telling us what is happening through intrusive and long-winded narration, instead of showing us what happens through well-crafted scen
Feb 18, 2013 rated it liked it
Jeanette has been expelled from Vassar College. Jeanette is already to head back home in disgrace until a teacher at the college encourages Jeanette to go to Paris to pursue her painting. She has talent.

Edward fought in the American Civil War. He is now out of the war but fighting a new war. A war with his body. To help with the pain, Edward uses laudanum. He becomes addicted to it. Edward’s friends feel a new location will help Edward, so he is asked to accompany a friend to Europe.

It is in P
N.L.B. Horton
Mar 28, 2013 rated it liked it
This first novel is somewhere between three and four stars for me. Merging two favorite topics — art and Paris — Ms. Keenum's knowledge is accurate, and I am comfortable with her presentation of the city in the late 1800s. She crafts a believable "envelope" for her story. (Reality is a dealbreaker if lacking.)

Her characters are engaging, although the cast is large and sometimes confusing. I understand she needs an ensemble cast for this story, but believe she could have pared the characters with
Aug 30, 2014 rated it liked it
Set in the 1870s, Jeannette Palmer, an aspiring art student from Ohio, is forced to leave Vassar College under a cloud of scandal that will potentially mar her family's reputation. She heads to Paris at the beginning of La Belle Epoque with her spinster cousin Effie as her chaperone. Taking lessons from renowned artists, Jeannette begins to understand her unique talents and place in the world as she explores artistic concepts such as line, form, movement, shadow and light. In addition to falling ...more
Jul 06, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: young adults, art lovers, historical fiction lovers
I immensely enjoyed this book. Keenum did a wonderful job with characters, I felt like I could really relate to them and would be friends with them if I ever found a way to jump into the book! As an art major, I loved the art school aspect of it, and that different artists are mentioned in the book. As someone in their early twenties, I didn't get bored with the plot, but someone younger might have, I think this book is great for adults/young adults who enjoy historical fictions. Keenum did a fa ...more
Feb 04, 2013 rated it it was ok
Jeanette is horrified to learn that she is being expelled from Vassar after helping her roommate elope. She had not idea that by ensuring that love would prevail she would endanger her entire future. Jeanette loves art with every breath in her body. She wants to paint and draw and be a successful artist, and now her dreams are dashed. Before she leaves, her favorite professor pulls her aside and informs her she is indeed talented and that she should consider pursuing her art career in Paris. Par ...more
May 18, 2018 rated it liked it
it was an interesting book about the late 1800's. a look at how women were viewed and what they could and couldnt do. a great look at the artist world and how it was in france. especially paris. good historical fiction
I was both disappointed and impressed with Where the Light Falls, a debut historical novel by Katherine Keenum. It’s a well-written, vivid story, about interesting characters who face compelling conflicts. That the Belle Époque isn’t a period often covered in fiction made this book a welcome change, but at the same time I was disappointed in the way the novel ended, as I felt it didn’t suit the story.

A lot of Where the Light Fallswas told in an almost episodic way. Jeneatte’s adventures in Paris
Viviane Crystal
Feb 14, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Jeannette Palmer is studying art at Vassar College. She’s a bright, promising student who suddenly because of a ill-planned adventure to help a friend elope is expelled from Vassar. This is 1877, the dawn of the Belle Epoque, a daring, freeing time but not so free yet that such a scandal does not bring ruin to Jeannette and her family’s reputation. To say they are appalled would be the understatement of all time. What are they to do and where shall she be accepted now. It is her spinster cousin, ...more
Cecilee Linke
Jan 12, 2015 rated it liked it
I received this book as a Christmas present from one of my French students. Since she knows I'm into (pretty much) any and all things French, she thought that I would enjoy this novel.

I did enjoy it, but not as much as I hoped.

From what I read on the back of the book, I expected this to be a romance set in Paris during a time period that I do not know much about (mid-1800s, post Civil War). Yes it was set in Paris, but the romance that I was expecting? Not so much.

Here we have the story of a you
Sara Palacios
Feb 04, 2013 rated it really liked it
I received a copy of Where the Light Falls by Katherine Keenum in exchange for an honest review.

Where the Light Falls is set as the Belle Epoque dawns, and artists find their way heading to Paris in search of inspiration. Jeanette Palmer is no different. Growing up the daughter of a prominent family in Ohio, Jeanette leaves Vassar College after a scandal breaks loose. She finds herself in Paris, amid the city's great bohemian neighborhoods and studios, Jeanette slowly makes friends as she finds
Jan 27, 2013 rated it liked it
This book was at turns fascinating and frustrating, and I'm still not sure where I stand on it.

The fascinating part was exploring pre-Belle Epoque Paris, with the changing mores and the advent of the Impressionist movement. Because Jeannette aspires to be an artist, there's lots of discussion about the propriety of painting nudes (male and female), the process of learning to be a painter, how the Salon show worked, etc.. Her Cousin Effie was very much the poor cousin, albeit one who wasn't exac
My Book Addiction and More MBA
WHERE THE LIGHT FALLS by Katherine Keenum is an interesting historical romance set in Ohio and Paris in 1870's. Follow Jeanette Palmer,a young artist who is forced to leave a prestigious school due to scandal. And Edward Murer,a American Civil War veteran with demons. Follow them as they navigate the artist world for women, demons,scandal,ambition,some will follow their dreams while others fight their demons. Jeanette has always dreamt of being an artist and goes to Paris to follow her dreams. E ...more
Mar 22, 2013 rated it liked it
A very good solid read especially if you are interested in what life could have been like for female art students and artists in 1870's Paris. Get past the first few chapters which are basically a silly setup to get our heroine to Paris. For me the novel really starts to hit its stride with the introduction of Dr. Edward Murer, a Civil War veteran and former POW with understandable demons. His character is beautifully written and rich in detail and as much as he is present throughout most of the ...more
This was a library shelf-browsing bust. The premise is great, but the author has such a strong yen for descriptive writing (which is pretty good) that the plot writing suffers. I also felt that some of the major characters sort of drift in an out and mostly serve as foils for the main character, which I found strangely flat.

Also, it's all pretty tame stuff, which is fine in a character-driven novel. However, it made the "love plot" really get in the way, and it sucked that despite the indication
Sarah K
Jun 10, 2013 rated it liked it
I have mixed feelings about this book. It took me months and months to read (which is rare), but it was beautifully written and fascinating to read about the Paris of the 1800s, female artists, and the way these women lived in a male-dominated time. I think what threw me off the most, and why it took me so long to read, was the book's slow pace and numerous characters. I never really got close to any of them, but I did want to see what happened. Worth the read but read it when you have time to t ...more
Shanie Genereux
Jun 03, 2014 rated it liked it
The author paints a beautiful picture of her own in words. You feel as if you are there. I did get lost in so many characters. Didn't get to know many of them well. I would have liked to felt like we knew more of what was really going on with the brother and was wierd..and at the end..the sister is a drug addict. That hit me out of left field. The most interesting part of the book was the end during Edward's rehab...and then it was over. She writes beautifully....just need to weed ou ...more
Jun 23, 2013 rated it liked it
This was an interesting story about an American young woman who travels to Paris to study art. I really enjoyed the plot, but the cast of characters was hard to keep track of; as information was weaved in about each supporting characters I sometimes lost interest; in fact, until the last 25% of the book, I only managed to read small segments at a time.
Overall, a good read, and I would recommend this book to those interested in late 19th-century art, and the art environment in France.
Jun 10, 2014 rated it really liked it
A rather interesting historical fiction about a young lady who travels to France to study art; she meets up with an older man who is struggling with addiction to opiates. The backstories and the way the two meet are what makes the novel so compelling, however; the "love story" is not necessarily what interested me.
May 20, 2014 rated it liked it
I loved the subject (rebellious American female art student who moves to Paris to paint in the 1870s). The descriptions of art students supporting each other and making do and finding beauty in their sometimes meager surroundings (albeit in that innately gorgeous city) made this an enjoyable if occasionally slow going read...
Pamela Beason
Jul 20, 2014 rated it liked it
This is the story of a group of young artists studying in Paris. I enjoyed the descriptions of art classes and all the Parisian locations, but after a while the parties and impromptu processions and such seemed a bit repetitious. The passion for art was clear and definitely made me want to take up painting again, though.
Nancy Luebke
Sep 02, 2013 rated it it was amazing
I really enjoyed this book. The author managed to paint pictures with her words as she wrote of these struggling artists. She also showed emotions that led up to decisions made by the characters in this long ago era. I received this book free in exchange for my honest opinion. I shall remember this any time I see pictures of Paris.
Lisa White
Mar 10, 2013 rated it it was amazing
A well researched book from a new author. I enjoyed traveling back to the Belle Epoque and to imagine Paris at that time! The artists occupying this story came to life before my eyes and the descriptive detail was so carefully drawn I felt I was standing along side the characters. A lovely read!
Sep 29, 2015 rated it it was ok
Shelves: owned-books
I found the main character quite weak. In the end, I kept wishing she'd done more and found myself disappointed in her. The story was a little choppy, and none of the characters really developed. Interesting read, but the ending fell short for me.
Jun 13, 2016 rated it liked it
Disgraced Belle Époque art student to expat civil war vet in Paris: "Snap out of it!"
Mar 11, 2013 rated it it was ok
Although I enjoyed the Paris settings, I grew bored with the characters and thumbed through to find out the end.
I thoroughly enjoyed the historical, cultural, artistic, and romantic aspects of this book!
Tracey Joseph
Jan 11, 2014 rated it it was amazing
really liked this book
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Born in Atlanta, Georgia, Katherine graduated from Vanderbilt University with a B.A. in English and earned a Ph.D. in medieval studies at the University of Texas at Austin. She worked in the publicity department of the New Orleans Public Schools, taught in the expository writing program at Yale University, and served as the executive editor of the book publishing program of the Council on East Asi ...more