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The Great War #3

Moonlight over Paris

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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…?

352 pages, Paperback

First published January 19, 2016

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About the author

Jennifer Robson

11 books2,653 followers
Jennifer Robson first learned about the Great War from her father, acclaimed historian Stuart Robson, and later served as an official guide at the Canadian National War Memorial at Vimy Ridge, France. A former copy editor, she holds a doctorate in British economic and social history from the University of Oxford. She lives in Toronto, Canada, with her husband and young children.

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5 stars
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Displaying 1 - 30 of 592 reviews
Profile Image for Magdalena aka A Bookaholic Swede.
1,937 reviews775 followers
March 31, 2018
The year is 1924 and Lady Helena Montagu-Douglas-Parr has decided that she will fulfill her life dream to become an artist. She has barely recovered from being seriously ill and because of almost dying does she want to explore more of life and not sitting home feeling sorry for herself after her ex-fiancé married someone else. Everyone thinks that she dump him because he was injured in the war, but the truth is that they both agreed to split since they didn't love each other. Her parents have agreed to Helena living one year with her eccentric aunt in Paris and Helena has enrolled in a famous art school there.

This book is a follow-up to After the War is Over (which is a follow-up to Somewhere in Paris), but this book can be read as a standalone.

I usually like historical fiction that takes place in the 1920s, but this book just didn't make an impact on me. There are a couple of things with the book that just didn't appeal to me. For instance, I couldn't really find myself warming up to the main character Helena, nor Sam Howard the journalist she meets in France. I just found their relationship uninteresting and their personal struggles trivial. Sam has some secrets that he doesn't want to talk about and it takes a while for Helena to learn more about him. And, Helena's struggle to become an artist felt really insignificant compared to real people's struggle. I mean she is rich, or her aunt and parents are rich, she is enrolled in a great art school. It's not like she has to live day for day wondering if she will be able to eat something. She's just yearning to do something with her life, but unfortunately, she's just so uninteresting to read about. I think my problem is that I like stronger characters, with determination and character. The only one in this book that actually was interesting was her aunt. Oh, I would have loved to have read a book about her past. But, Helena, well nothing really goes against her in the book, it's just her lack of confidence that over and over rears its ugly head.

There are some famous people making cameo appearances in this book now and then and usually, that will thrill me, but not even that made me enjoy the book. That's a sure sign that there is something amiss with the book for me when usual things that appeal to me fail to do so.

But the real problem with the book is Helena and Sam. No passion, it's like one of those Hollywood movies when they put two actors together with no chemistry. The whole thing is usually  just awkward to see or in this case to read. Neither of the characters memorable and that makes their romance dull to read about.

So, would I recommend this book? Well, perhaps if you are not as picky as me, then this would work for you. Or it would work if you are a greater lover of historical romance than me, which perhaps is the case. I must admit. I usually tend to stay away from historical romance because they seldom work for me. Unless they are based on real people. That I love!

I want to thank the publisher for providing me with a free copy for an honest review!

Read this review and others on A Bookaholic Swede
Profile Image for switterbug (Betsey).
817 reviews753 followers
December 19, 2015
I was attracted to the novel because I enjoy early twentieth century stories set in Europe, and the Lost Generation, although captured many times in books, was a beacon of creativity and liveliness, and always ripe for the imagination. The author’s stats were also very impressive, and I was hoping for a story of substance. Although Robson writes clean, well-parsed sentences, I was disappointed in the formulaic, anodyne, and too-familiar story. The entire tale was predictable to me, and the characters, although cared for by the author, were not especially original or dimensional.

Twenty-eight-year-old Helena Montagu-Douglas-Parr, an English daughter of an Earl, has broken off with her high-society fiancé, and the swirling rumors have oppressed her. After she survives scarlet fever, Helena decides to move to France, live with her bohemian aunt, and go to art school in Paris. There she finds her independence, a new circle of friends, and an American love interest. The narrative focuses on her evolvement and maturity, as she gains wisdom through making her own decisions. Of course, finances are never a burden for her, so her risks are always pampered, even though she is pleasant, easy-going, and a woman of good character.

I have not read the previous two books that featured the protagonist, but this one can be read on its own, as Helena’s previous history is well enough explained, and, to me, not that intriguing. Perhaps I am the wrong audience for this book, but much of it felt saccharine to me, especially Helena’s relationship with the American journalist, Sam Howard, who was perfect in just about every way--a handsome, muscular, soft-spoken man. Despite the passionate moments described in the story, it came across as bland and obvious.

What kept me going was the decent writing and the setting. I do think that Robson has it in her to write a more substantial story. Perhaps she will kick it up a notch in her next novel. If not, I’ll look elsewhere.
Profile Image for Kate Hilton.
Author 3 books221 followers
January 19, 2016
I adored this book. Like Robson's previous novels, Moonlight Over Paris is meticulously researched and beautifully written. But there is something particularly irresistible about Paris in the 1920s. I cheered for Helena and Sam - for their relationship with each other, but also for each character's development from a citizen of the pre-war world into an individual of the modern age. Robson handles these vast social transitions with the subtlety and care of a serious historian - which, of course, she is.
Profile Image for Deacon Tom F.
1,704 reviews129 followers
August 21, 2021
Classic Lovestory

I thoroughly enjoyed, “Moonlight over Paris” by Jennifer Robson. It is Historical fiction based in Europe in the 1920s.

It was very typical normal old-fashioned love story. Where are the rich girl does not wanna be part of the American traveler. As things work out they are together in Paris.

Good characterization good setting.

I recommend
Profile Image for nikkia neil.
1,150 reviews19 followers
September 9, 2015
I love Jennifer Robson's books! You fall into another world and it is utter bliss. This is just the kind of book I love- art, love, philosophy, and life. Wish I could have lived back then
Profile Image for Gina *loves sunshine*.
1,857 reviews69 followers
September 21, 2016
Most people are normal book readers. They like good stories that transport them to another time and place. This book does just that! In the first few chapters, I was immediately caught up in the new life of Helena as she boarded her train from London to Paris!! The descriptions and the settings of each new day drew me in immediately. Her Aunt, the friends she meets, her Art classes, SAM....it all sets up very nicely and the story hums along. Around the 30% mark I think to myself.....wow I'm really captivated and this story actually has no clear direction. Mind you, I am usually the type that needs something to root for.

I kept on reading.....at 57% I realize things are happening but it lacks that pizzazz, this is where I go to Goodreads and check out some reviews and remind myself why this was on my TBR. It takes me a bit of digging but soon I realize this is book #3 of a series. Well no wonder I am a little disconnected!!!! And then this is when I realize again...I'm not a normal reader!! Do you know how many times people said it really can be read as a stand alone??? too many. It's not true. well. of course you can read it as a stand alone but it will lack as it is doing for me. Helena may not have been the main character in previous books but her story, her relationship, everything that brought her to this book was in those 2 other books!!! how is that not important....author? Publisher? Had I known there were 2 novels before it I would have read them and I would probably be sitting here finishing this story and cheering on My Lady!!! But, it stinks I didn't know the back story...so you get 3 stars. My guess, the average rating would be so much higher if the readers of this book had read it as a series.
Profile Image for Sandi Hudson.
53 reviews19 followers
July 13, 2020
This is the third installment of the series of The Great War. Going in, I wasn't that enthusiastic to read it because Helena had been such a minor character in the second book that I didn't feel any connection to her. I had no sense of wanting to see what happened next in her life.

And during the first couple of chapters that thought was pretty much proven out. After a near fatal illness, she decided to get away from the rumor mill and go live with her aunt in France. She also planned to attend art school to hone her skills. It wasn't until Helene met her circle of close friends that the story became interesting.

The dynamic with her friends, aunt, and friends she's known most of her life was the best part of the whole book. Although I assumed (you know what they say!) this would be a romance....and I suppose it was sorta....I'm puzzled how two people can fall in love when they've spent soooo little time together. How is it love when they spend weeks and months apart with very little thought of the other person? Helene declares she's in love with Sam but spends most of her time with her friends, busy with painting, running from one party to another dinner to yet another event. Even when she has down time for things like sewing a new costume for a ball, she hardly spares a thought for what Sam might be doing. Or convincing herself he's not interested at all in her (in spite of some intimate moments.)

The third star is for the storyline covering Helene's friends and her brash curmudgeon of a teacher. Otherwise I'd have rated this no more than two stars, in spite of my love of Jennifer Robson's talent in general.
Profile Image for Laura.
299 reviews1 follower
February 13, 2016
This is the third Jennifer Robson book I have read in the last year. I LOVED IT!! A fantastically romantic story. Lady Helena Montagu-Douglas-Parr recovers from a near-death bout with illness. Once she recovers, she decides she wants to go to France to study art. In France she befriends a group of artists that allow her to really come into her own. Among those friends is the American Sam Howard. She is immediately smitten as is he but their relationship becomes distant and complicated. While in Paris, Helena is able to meet the influencers of the time like Hemingway (and even Hadley), Gertrude Stein, the Fitzgeralds to name a few. A fantastic and elegant story filled with all of the wonderful things about the Paris of pre WWII. Loved it and would highly recommend it to those who love historical fiction.
Profile Image for Andie.
812 reviews8 followers
February 16, 2016
I'm pretty much a sucker for any book set in Paris, but this is just a piece of preposterous trash. Lady Helena Montague-Douglas-Parr has been unlucky in love and then suffered a near fatal illness. So when her aunt invites her to come and stay at her home in France she goes off to study art in Paris for a year.

She meets a handsome American correspondent for the Chicago Tribune & sparks fly, but he has A SECRET that, of course causes endless misunderstandings until all are happily resolved in the end.

In-between all of this, every well known character from the "Lost Generation" wanders in and out of the plot - none to any great effect. The whole thing is a giant mess. Don't bother.
Profile Image for Donna Alward.
Author 272 books580 followers
January 12, 2017
This book just reinforced why Robson is an autobuy for me. I gobbled it up and am eagerly awaiting her next release.

From the moment Helena set foot on the train from Calais, I was hooked. Robson's incredibly well-researched and evocative descriptions are paired with a lovely, independent heroine. Paris is as much of a setting as Helena, Sam, Aunt Agnes, and Helena's friends, and the addition of real-life artists and writers add a lovely sense of glamour. I've read all three of Robson's books, but this one is my favourite so far.
March 16, 2016
Moonlight Over Paris is vibrant in setting and history. 1920s Paris comes alive under Jennifer Robson’s pen! The bond between an unlikely group of friends kept me invested in the story even when I found the main character herself difficult to relate to. Cameos from actual “influencers” of the time period intrigue and inspire further study of their lives. While beautifully crafted sentences drape every page, I do feel the book to be lacking a dimensionality that I could truly embrace. Likewise, some of the secondary characters appealed to me more than Helena, the main character. But I’m definitely going to be reading “Fall of Poppies” to find out what happens with Daisy’s story – Robson hooked me on that one!

(I received a copy of this book in exchange for only my honest review.)

Read my full review at Reading Is My SuperPower
Profile Image for KOMET.
1,070 reviews128 followers
July 8, 2016
On the face of it, "MOONLIGHT OVER PARIS" can be seen as a continuation of Jennifer Robson's 2 previous historical novels: (1) 'Somewhere in France: A Novel of the Great War'; and (2) 'After the War is Over'. Yet, it can also be regarded as a stand alone novel for anyone who comes to it without having read the 2 aforesaid novels.

Lady Helena Montagu-Douglas-Parr (aka Helena Parr, Helena, or "Ellie" by her closest friends) figures prominently here. In the previous 2 novels, she was largely a peripheral figure, engaged to Edward Neville-Ashford, a young aristocrat and wounded war veteran who loomed large in both of those novels. Edward had broken off their engagement to marry a woman of humbler origins whom he really loved. It was a rupture that carried a certain social fallout for Helena in London, tainting her as if she were a fallen woman. In the beginning of this novel, we find her on the slow road to recovery at her parents' estate from an outbreak of scarlet fever that had nearly killed her. Having been so close to death, she vowed to herself that she would try to make a better life for herself on her own terms. As part of that process, Helena applies for admission to an art academy in Paris, whose classes are slated to start in the autumn of the following year. She is able to go to France for a year, with her parents' permission, where her Aunt Agnes (aka 'Auntie A') - a widow of bohemian sensibilities with a wide social circle - has residences in Paris and Antibes and can provide both a place for Helena to stay and a large measure of familial protection and support.

Helena arrives in Paris via the ferry and train in the spring of 1924. It is her first time in Paris in a decade. She is now in a country that is determined to shake off the heavy shadows through which it has been cast since the end of the First World War. Helena proceeds by train to Antibes in the South of France, where she meets with her aunt and goes on to spend a restful and exciting summer on the beaches and along the Mediterranean shore. (Unlike today, the South of France was not a tourist haven in the summer until the mid-1920s. Indeed, hotels there would close as people travelled north in search of cooler places away from the full glare of the sun.) She goes on to have a lot of interesting experiences, rubbing shoulders with some of the people who figured prominently as part of the "Lost Generation" of American expatriates (e.g . Gerald and Sara Murphy, Ernest & Hadley Hemingway, Natalie Barney, Gertrude Stein and Alice B. Toklas, Djuna Barnes, and F. Scott & Zelda Fitzgerald) who lived large in Europe. Helena also finds love - when she least expects it - through a chance encounter with an American journalist (Sam Howard) on a road near Antibes, who stops his car one hot, sunny afternoon and offers to fix the chain on her bike, which had become disconnected. But as with most love stories, the course of true love doesn't run smooth for both of them.

"MOONLIGHT OVER PARIS" is a terrific novel, not only for any reader eager to enjoy a good book over the summer, but also for those fans of Downton Abbey and compelling love stories seeking escape from the hectic demands of work and everyday life.
Profile Image for Emmy.
902 reviews147 followers
February 7, 2017
This one felt like more historical fiction than romance than the rest of the series. There still was the romance, but it took a back seat to Helena's life in Paris. And learning about moving to Paris and the art classes was interesting, but not really absorbing.
Profile Image for Katie.
2,647 reviews143 followers
April 14, 2019
This is one of those books that I generally liked until the end and then I was bored. Also
Profile Image for Donna McEachran.
524 reviews16 followers
July 11, 2021
Read it in a day (you've got to love cold Sundays). Just loved it!
Profile Image for Anneke Visser-van Dijken.
1,002 reviews87 followers
September 14, 2018
De cover van Aan de oever van de Seine van Jennifer Robson doet nostalgisch aan. Het doet terugverlangen naar lang vervlogen tijden. Tijden waarin het leven enerzijds moeilijker leek, maar anderzijds ook weer makkelijker en waar de wereld kleiner leek.
Tijdens het lezen van de proloog wordt je nieuwsgierig naar het verhaal. Je wilt meer weten over Helena en of ze haar doelstellingen zal gaan halen. Al heel snel blijkt dat zij, dankzij omstandigheden, een vrouw te zijn die haar tijd ver vooruit is, een vrouw die niet afhankelijk meer wil zijn van anderen, maar echt zelfstandig wil zijn. Ze ontmoet mensen die, zonder dat ze het van elkaar weten, meer gemeen hebben met elkaar dan zo op het eerste gezicht lijkt. Allemaal hebben ze zo hun geheimen die langzamerhand bekend worden. Je ziet Helena en haar vrienden groeien en hechter worden. Het verhaal is een tikkeltje voorspelbaar, maar dat is in dit geval niet erg, want bij feelgood romans kan je eigenlijk niet anders verwachten. Het is meer hoe dat voorspelbare stukje tot uiting komt, welke verrassende wendingen ervoor zitten. In Aan de oever van de Seine zit dat wel goed, want er zijn genoeg verrassende wendingen die je niet aan ziet komen.

Lees verder op https://surfingann.blogspot.com/2018/....
Profile Image for Barbara.
645 reviews48 followers
October 25, 2017
Ms. Robson never fails to write a beautiful story. She brings a character or two from the previous books to just cement the story. It is post WWI and Lady Helena has come out of a very serious illness and her parents are trying to keep her sheltered. Helena feels the need to spread her wings and wants to get back to her art. She heads off to Paris, surprising her parents, to stay with her aunt and enrolls in art school as simply Helena Parr. There she makes Parisian artist friends and meets journalist Sam Howard. Helena and friends find themselves socializing with The Lost Generation and Helena begins to forge her place in the new post war world and even finds romance when not expecting it. I found myself transported to the lush scenes of Paris while engrossed in this story.
Profile Image for Lisa.
Author 1 book29 followers
December 2, 2015
This novel is better than Robson's first, Somewhere in France. One of the best things about it is the well-rounded nature of the protagonist's journey. It really is not much about the romance and is more about Helena's year in Paris, where she attempts to develop her talents as a painter and overcome the problems imposed by her family and English society. That is much more interesting that just a romance. The descriptions of Paris between the wars and especially Helena's visit to the markets of Les Halles are memorable. So are the characters of her friends and her aunt. It's good to see better writing from this promising author; I plan to read her second book--apparently each stands alone.
Profile Image for Richard.
Author 4 books428 followers
January 18, 2021
This is possibly the best of the series. I enjoyed its details of Lady Helena's apprenticeship in a famous but very challenging Parisian art school. Along the way, various "ex-pat" celebrities make memorable cameos, including Ernest Hemingway and his first wife Hadley Richardson, Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald, Gertude Stein and Alice B. Toklas, Sylvia Beach and others.
Profile Image for Sharlene.
403 reviews
July 7, 2017
Really enjoyed this book and quickly searched for and read her other books.
220 reviews
April 13, 2020
Good book - makes me desperate to visit Paris...
Didn’t get 5 stars because it isn’t as good as the Gown. Helene didn’t have the personal strength to make me love her completely.
Profile Image for Andrea Guy.
1,464 reviews61 followers
February 4, 2016
Jennifer Robson is a wonderful writer for the period around WWI. After The War Is Over was a particular favorite of mine that I reviewed last year here.

Moonlight Over Paris takes place in the mid-twenties. I felt like Helena was a little bit like Edith from Downton Abbey, only a little more spunky. She really took charge of her life after her illness. I especially liked how hard she worked for what she wanted.

There are a few personal things about this book that made me smile. One is the use of the word Allonsy!

Then there's the girl that she meets at art school, named Daisy Fields. I adored her and all of her friends, but Daisy happened to have the name of a song I've loved by Keith Harkin.

Etienne was another favorite character. I loved when she told him that she was glad she had a sheltered life because she hadn't been taught how to hate, when he told her he was homosexual. I wish more people could be like Helena.

Helena had some meetings with some fabulous people in Paris, like Fitzgerald, Hemingway and Stein. It was like a snapshot out of The Paris Wife by Paula McLain. This was such an exciting time and Jennifer Robson made you feel like you were really there.

I don't think there was a character in this book that I didn't like. Aunt Agnes was a spunky old lady who really broke with conventions, living with a man for years, before she was able to marry him. Oh and her little doggie, Hamish was fabulous too.

Sam is her love interest. It was nice that this was a slow relationship. It allowed you to see all relationships she builds in Paris and how she changes and grows as a person.

This book was a wonderful read
1,911 reviews10 followers
December 20, 2017
When I picked up this book I did not realize it was the final book of a three part trilogy. The first book which I read and enjoyed was “Somewhere in France”. The second book which I have yet to read is “After the War is Over”. This novel, “Moonlight Over Paris” is the third in the series. As the trilogy rolls out, Robson pulls a character with a small role in one novel to be the main character in the following one. I like to read things in order but in this case Robson has written each book as a complete story unto itself so it stands easily on its own. Each tells a story about The Great War or its aftermath, focusing on a small group of younger members of the British upper classes.

The story opens with a young woman in sickbed fighting scarlet fever, at the time a life threatening infection. After that near death experience, Lady Helena vows to live a fuller more meaningful life, a life on her own terms. Known in London as Lady Helena Montagu-Douglas Parr, daughter of the Earl of Halifax, she yearns to leave the constraints of the aristocratic society in which she was raised and live simply as Helena Parr. She convinces her reluctant parents to allow her to spend a year in France to get away from all that she has suffered in the last five years, a humiliating broken engagement to Edward, Lord Cumberland that has left her criticized, shunned and the subject of malicious gossip in London society. She is now almost thirty and has given up on the idea of having a husband and family. She wants to be free, to leave her privileged life with its ever present maids and people hovering over her and move to Paris and become simply Helena Parr, a young woman living with her free spirited and unconventional Aunt Agnes. She wants to walk the streets and get to know the city, meet people who do not know her or her background and pursue her dream of learning to paint. Helena has always enjoyed picking up a pencil or a brush but she was inexperienced and self-taught. She believes she has some talent and the making of an artist buried somewhere inside her, but she is not certain it is really there or if she is just hoping it to be so. Nevertheless, she is anxious to shed her old life, uncertain of what she will become and unsure of her place in the world. But she knows she wants something more, something different from what her life has turned out to be. She wants to live her life and not simply exist.

In Paris, Helena’s dreams of becoming an artist are heartily supported by her Aunt, an unusual woman for her time who understands her niece’s yearning and supports her need to lead a different life than that of her family. Helena, finally on her own, is enjoying every single moment of the experience. She enrolls in a prestigious art school and begins lessons with Maitre Czerny, a tyrannical, demanding and stern teacher who is a bully, uninterested in his students’ opinions or questions. She meets three fellow students who quickly become fast friends: Etienne Moreau, a bold, talented, gay painter; Mathilde Renault, a young working class woman with a child and a husband damaged by the war who works two jobs so she can attend art school; Daisy Fields, a wealthy American living with her overprotective father who monitors her every move and Sam Howard a correspondent for the European edition of the Chicago Tribune who has been scarred by his experience in the war. She enters a world in which her birthright hardly matters and when her friends become aware of her privileged background they ignore it, because “aristocrats are a dime a dozen in Paris”.

Sam is different from any gentleman Helena has known in her past, a straight forward man with no pretenses. She is attracted to him but as their relationship develops she learns that his background is similar to her own, the one she has been trying to abandon. She feels betrayed and tries to distance herself from this romantic entanglement. She has come to Paris to escape her past not to run back into it.

During her time in the art school and the long hours she spends in the studio with her friends, Helena finds her footing as an artist and becomes more confident of her talent.

Robson pulls the reader into the bohemian life and heady allure of Paris, The City of Light in the 1920s. It was a time when a number of American expatriates, talented musicians, painters and writers flocked to the city to live cheaply, mingle with fellow artists, gather inspiration for new works and live a life free from traditional convention. Helena meets Hadley and Ernest Hemmingway, Gertrude Stein, Alice B Toklas, Sara and Gerard Murphy, and even feuding couple Zelda and F. Scott Fitzgerald, although the appearances of this couple seemed more like name dropping rather than a vehicle to move the narrative forward. Helena also gets to experience the salons of Paris where invited guests sample the company, the food and discussions about poetry, fiction, art and dance. There she sees original paintings of Cezanne, Matisse and Picasso lining the walls. She is happy to be free of the kind of conversations she would have had back in London about wandering husbands, quarterly allowances and problems with the help. Helena also has her first experience with the ultimate in high fashion when she visits a couturier with her Aunt who gifts her with her first haute couture gown.

Helena is likeable, but not a character who quickly draws the readers’ attention. I longed to like her and applauded her determination to seek a new life. But her character lacked depth and by the end of the novel I felt I hardly knew her. Her companions who come from interesting and very different backgrounds had so much potential to add interest to the story but were quickly passed over, their lives and characters only briefly explored. The bond between this unlikely group of friends was a key to Helena’s journey to find herself and could have been a strong part of the narrative. Even Sam remains a thinly described character rather than a passionate lover and his relationship with Helena never explored the depth of feelings they supposedly had for each other. As a couple they lacked compassion, their relationship it seemed, sketched from a distance. They exchanged many words, but with little emotion, making it difficult to connect with them as a romantic loving couple. When Helena suggests becoming Sam’s lover, the idea seemed misplaced. It was a leap in a relationship that had mostly simmered rather than burned. Admittedly Helena’s transformation is the center of the story and Robson may have been trying to make certain Helen’s love life did not overtake that primary theme.

Robson is talented writer who brings all the atmosphere and rich detail needed to create a good historical novel. Some of the cameo appearances seem a little forced at times, especially the scene with the arguing Fitzgeralds, but others such as the interactions with Hadley and Ernest Hemmingway feel realistic and spot on.

The pace of the narrative is slow and never really gathers much steam, which may irritate some readers who long for things to pick up. But the course of Helena’s journey must necessarily be slow and subtle to make it realistic.

Despite my criticisms this is still an interesting and enjoyable read about a sheltered and privileged young woman who begins a journey to live the life she chooses, not the life chosen for her.

Profile Image for Jennifer.
1,205 reviews18 followers
May 14, 2016
I wanted to like this one more, honestly.

I did like Helena's determination to find a way to express herself through her art, but I wanted a more in-depth look at that struggle (a few arguments with her mentor just didn't cover that). And I liked Sam's straightforwardness (though I wished he had a few faults ). And I loved Helena's aunt, who is maybe a little eccentric, but definitely fun to have around - she should have her own book.

It's just that the rest of the plot - even with drop-ins by the Fitzgeralds, the Murphys, and the Hemingways - just wasn't strong enough. I realize this is "light" historical fiction - sort of masquerading as a romance - but I wanted more for the characters.
Profile Image for Sue Seligman.
498 reviews43 followers
November 25, 2019
This is one of the earlier books by Jennifer Robson, author of the recent, amazing novel The Gown. This story takes place in post World War I London and Paris. The novel opens in England as Lady Helena is close to death, battling scarlet fever. As she struggles to recover, she decides that she needs a change of scenery since she is unable to deal with the gossip and cruel stares of people within her social circle as a result of her broken engagement. Her aunt invites Helena to join her in Paris where the young woman attends art school and encounters a life completely different from what she is used to. She develops close and supportive friendships while pursuing her passion for art in the magical city. As she embraces her new life among the artistic culture of post war Paris, she opens her heart to new experiences and perhaps, a new love. This book would appeal to fans of historical women’s fiction, and those who enjoyed Downton Abbey and similar shows and books.
Profile Image for Jolie Adam.
182 reviews14 followers
November 21, 2017
I genuinely enjoyed reading this novel as I consider it a periodic beach read set in Paris. It's a mindless read but has a few good elements of history that make you swoon (It is Paris after all).
Profile Image for Stacey.
360 reviews
September 8, 2016
This book had all the elements that usually appeal to me - a historical setting in the 20's, europe, a woman before her time, a love story. However, it really just didn't come together for me and felt a little lackluster as if the author were going through the motions of what was supposed to be in a love story - they meet, something prevents them from being together, they figure out a way around it, happy ending. I found there was a lack of passion in the interactions between Helena and Sam that just prevented me from buying in to their love story. Overall, a nice, light read but not one I'd go out of my way to recommend.
Profile Image for Addie Thompson.
283 reviews3 followers
June 12, 2020
It was fine. One of those books that took me some time to get into. When I did get into it I ran through it in two days. Cool story, just no substance. I’ve read novels that allude to the American Expats living in Paris in the 20s. This one just didn’t do it effectively. The allusions were more like name drops. By far the best character was Aunt Agnes. A woman before her time. I loved her. She is all the eclectic independent things I wish to be.
Profile Image for Ettelwen.
472 reviews138 followers
December 1, 2016
Čekala jsem o trochu víc. Pařížská atmosféra dost pokulhávala a podle anotace jsem čekala opravdu hrdinku, která se do toho trochu opře, ale to se nestalo. Samotný příběh by mohl být lepší, kdyby autorka plně využila jeho potenciálu. Nakonec se jedná o milý příběh, který nezaujme ale také neurazí.
Displaying 1 - 30 of 592 reviews

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