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The Velvet Hours

3.91  ·  Rating details ·  5,803 ratings  ·  741 reviews
As Paris teeters on the edge of the German occupation, a young French woman closes the door to her late grandmother’s treasure-filled apartment, unsure if she’ll ever return. 

An elusive courtesan, Marthe de Florian cultivated a life of art and beauty, casting out all recollections of her impoverished childhood in the dark alleys of Montmartre. With Europe on the brink of w
Paperback, 384 pages
Published September 6th 2016 by Berkley
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Jan Merritt In a sterling review by the Jewish Book Council, this quote reveals what 'the velvet hours' were:
"A fas­ci­nat­ing tale unfolds and Solange, a bud­di…more
In a sterling review by the Jewish Book Council, this quote reveals what 'the velvet hours' were:
"A fas­ci­nat­ing tale unfolds and Solange, a bud­ding writer, is enthralled: ​“Those hours were like vel­vet to me. Sto­ries spun of silken thread, her own light and dark­ness, unabashed­ly drawn.”(less)
Alyson Richman Hi Jonda, although both "The Paris Apartment" and "The Velvet Hours" were inspired by the same true-life story of Marthe de Florian's apartment, I hop…moreHi Jonda, although both "The Paris Apartment" and "The Velvet Hours" were inspired by the same true-life story of Marthe de Florian's apartment, I hope readers who enjoyed Gable's great tale, will learn more about Marthe de Florian and specifically, Solange Beaugiron (her granddaughter) in "The Velvet Hours." The novel has no modern-day story, but rather takes place in Paris during the Belle Epoque and WWII.(less)

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Average rating 3.91  · 
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 ·  5,803 ratings  ·  741 reviews

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Feb 17, 2017 rated it really liked it
When I read the following link the abandoned apartment left untouched for 70 years, filled with treasure and art. I knew I just had to read this novel. Marthe de Florian was a courtesan who amassed a life of riches and wealth. Her apartment when discovered in 2010 and had remained untouched for seven decades revealed a wealth of antiques including a magnificent painting of her by the well known artist Gioanni Boldini. The author Alyson Richman with her wo ...more
Diane S ☔
Sep 20, 2016 rated it really liked it
Marthe de Florian, though this was not always her name, was born into poverty, at an early age she witnessed the death of her younger sister, Odile, something she never forget. She raised herself up, using the gifts available to her, beauty and charm. She was the mistress of a wealthy man and came to be beloved by a famous painter.

Two stories, her granddaughter Solange, only meets her when she is nineteen. Marthe tells Solange the story of her life and a tight bond is formed between them. The G
Suzanne Leopold (Suzy Approved Book Reviews)
This novel brings together two stories based in Paris in a heartwarming novel. Marthe, the estranged grandmother, shares her life story with her granddaughter Solange in 1940. The book alternates between the current life of Solange and the past life of Marthe. Solange’s life is just beginning while Marthe’s is near the end. The short merging of their two lives forms the fabric of the story.

I loved Marthe’s story and while I was reading the book I wanted to understand how she became estranged fro
Dec 16, 2016 rated it really liked it
A few years ago, a Paris apartment was opened after having lain untouched for seven decades. It was discovered after its owner died aged 91. Upon viewing the apartment, it was like a time warp, where nothing was disturbed and it contained a large painting by the artist Boldini of a lovely French woman. Again, this little piece of history now becomes this novel.

The author heard about this and weaved the story, The Velvet Hours. The story focuses on two women. The first, Marthe de Florian, a woman
Jenny (Reading Envy)
I'll be honest, I started a review copy of this book assuming I would bail, but instead I got sucked in and halfway through before I even knew what was happening.

The author was inspired by the time-capsule apartment that was only recently discovered, left behind in Paris at the start of World War II and only opened again when the owner's granddaughter died. The painting, the love letters, the details of the room, all inspired the author to write a fictionalized account of the woman and her life.
Diana • Book of Secrets
Sep 12, 2016 rated it really liked it
THE VELVET HOURS is captivating historical fiction inspired by the real-life Paris apartment of Marthe de Florian that sat untouched for 70 years. I remember being intrigued when the story of this "time capsule" apartment came out, and Alyson Richman did a beautiful job bringing it back to life.

The heart of the story is a grandmother telling her newly-found granddaughter about her eccentric life. Marthe was a courtesan during the Belle Époque, and she rose from poverty to become the owner of thi
Elizabeth of Silver's Reviews
Sep 13, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
From 1898 to 1940 we meet Solange and Marthe de Florian.

Solange is the granddaughter of Marthe and the grandmother Solange never knew existed until she was nineteen years old.

Solange's father never knew Marthe was his birth mother until he was eighteen and kept Marthe from Solange until Solange's mother had passed away.

The meeting of the two women allowed Solange to learn of her grandmother's life and legacy in an apartment filled with collected treasures and the traces of men Marthe had colle
Cindy Burnett
Jul 24, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: first-to-read
4.5 stars

While I really liked the entire book a lot, the beginning and the ending were outstanding. The start of the book perfectly set the stage for the entire story, and the ending wrapped it up beautifully. The Velvet Hours focuses on the lives of two women: Marthe de Florian, a member of the demi-monde, whose story begins in the late 1800’s and Solange, a young woman living in Paris during World War II. As the story unfolds, Solange learns she is related to Marthe and begins visiting her reg
Erika Robuck
Oct 24, 2016 rated it it was amazing
I know I can always count on Alyson Richman’s stories to have gorgeous prose, a compelling plot, and rich and fascinating subjects. Her latest novel, THE VELVET HOURS, both follows and elevates her pattern in what is her finest work to date.

Reading the pages of THE VELVET HOURS is like leafing through old letters or lifting old garments and artifacts from a trunk. Each piece holds such fascination, such history, it is worth lingering to gather their essence. Richman deftly makes a global narrati
Jan 31, 2018 rated it really liked it
A difficult book to review. On the one hand I found it shallow, an isolated story in a world on fire that didn't impress me much. On the other hand it's written well so I read it with pleasure. The part about the Barcelona Haggadah was very interesting. I gave an extra star because the book came more to life after I had looked up all the information on the internet.
Sep 20, 2016 rated it it was ok
Shelves: dual-time-period
I understand the author used a real life event as the jumping off point and inspiration to write this novel, but for me, once it was established that the apartment belonged to a former courtesan, I really didn't need to read further. That I did was a testament to my boredom and lack of anything else to do.

Kudos to Alyson Richman for writing a plausible background to Madame de Florian, but there really wasn't anything in the novel that was exciting, or thrilling or heartfelt. The events and chara
Sep 10, 2018 rated it it was amazing
4.5 stars bc I'm mentally comparing it to The Nightingale and I think that was perfection....

The story is told through the eyes of the granddaughter Solange in 1939 with flashbacks of her grandmothers life story set in 1898. The stories weave together perfectly. Marthe (GMA) meets her aspiring writer granddaughter, Solange, and immediately likes her. She decides to share her interesting life story as Solange uses it to write her first novel. Everything is tense as France learns of the German adv
May 26, 2016 rated it it was amazing
I was initially intrigued by this book when I first saw it on NetGalley. It deals with war-torn France for at least part of the book, and having read and loved The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah, I decided to give it a try. I was pleasantly surprised. The author creates a rich setting and memorable characters. It is the story of two women, and is at least based partly on an actual apartment in Paris that was preserved for seventy years after the death of its inhabitant, Marthe de Florian. This no ...more
Pam Jenoff
Oct 22, 2016 rated it it was amazing
The Velvet Hours by Alyson Richman. Do you love beautifully written tales of art and music set against the haunting backdrop of World War II? Richman has no equal and she has outdone herself with this tale of a Paris apartment that has been mysteriously locked and left untouched since the war, which once belonged to an elusive courtesan.
Feb 04, 2017 rated it liked it
I'm proud of myself for finishing this because it became a struggle. I enjoyed it for awhile but Marthe's POV was not enjoyable for me. The book is told in 2 POV, Marthe and her granddaughter, Solange. I did enjoy reading about Solange, but being inside Marthe's head was annoying. I found her to be so shallow, haughty, and narcissistic. I put the book down several times, and almost DNF. But, I found myself wanting to find out what happened to Solange, so I carried on. The prose was good, even th ...more
Oct 15, 2016 marked it as dnf
Shelves: arc
DNF at 38%. The writing is beautiful but it's primarily a Belle Époque book...not a WWII novel like I expected. I didn't care enough about the main thread to continue.
Nov 07, 2016 rated it did not like it
Wanted to love this as the story line was so intriguing. However, I couldn't get past page 100. Found the writing dull and uninspired.
Aug 15, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Sometimes you read a book and end up disappointed; other times, you might be satisfied, but not overly moved. Or you may have a good solid book that left you happy. When I finished reading The Velvet Hours, I was left feeling grateful to have read such an interesting, beautiful novel that I will never forget.

The Velvet Hours behind with an ending, but why a furnished, loved home is abandoned is a mystery to be answered by going back to a beginning. Of Mathilde Beaugiron who became Marthe de Flo
Jul 25, 2016 rated it really liked it
In The Velvet Hours, the story of courtesan Marthe de Florian is told through meetings with her granddaughter Solange in Marthe's finely appointed Paris apartment. We learn about Marthe and her Belle Epoque life in chapters that alternate with Solange's life in the World War II era. The writing is descriptive and tantalizing, and the story is interesting and moved along at a pace which allowed me to savor every word. An added interest to this story is the fact that Marthe and Solange were actual ...more
Joanne Norris
Nov 28, 2016 rated it it was amazing
I loved The Velvet Hours from beginning to end! Alyson Richman you have done it again! This book is so beautifully written, I felt as if I were in Paris able to see the excitement of both Marthe's and Solange's lives as they unfolded.

A must read! If you loved the Lost wife, you will adore The Velvet Hours!
May 14, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Simply fabulous. The story of this apartment appealed to me from the very beginning and this telling of it was simply unforgettable.
Andrea Bolton
Feb 05, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Exquisitely written story of redemption, love, bravery, with wonderful characters. I have yet to read an Alyson Richman book that I didn't love.
Dorie  - Cats&Books :)
This is the first novel I’ve read by Alyson Richman. I must admit that it took me three starts to get into this book. I normally like detailed writing but I found that especially the beginning was so bogged down in descriptive details of Marthe de Florian’s possessions that I grew tired of it. Ms. deFlorian did not achieve this wealth because of any great accomplishments or inheritance but rather because she was a courtesan for a wealthy married man. I also could have done without the explicit d ...more
May 12, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: wwii
"Those hours were like velvet to me. Stories spun of silken thread"

This wonderful novel brings together two stories based in Paris. The first story is that of Marthe deFlorian, a poor girl who became a courtesan during the Belle Epoque era and her granddaughter Solange who doesn't even know of Marthe's existence until 1938. After they meet, Marthe starts sharing the story of her life with her granddaughter who wants to be an author. Over the two years that they talk, Solange learns about her gra
Lisa Montanaro
Dec 03, 2016 rated it really liked it
This book is exquisitely written with such luscious language and imagery. I love how the author read an article about a mysterious Parisian apartment that had been discovered after 70 years and then based a historical fiction novel on the possible back story of the original owner of that apartment and her granddaughter. The story takes place from the Belle Époque period around 1898 to World War II in the 1940s. It's told from the perspective of the grandmother and her granddaughter. The grandmot ...more
Sep 21, 2016 rated it it was ok
I wanted to like this book. No, I wanted to love this book. It's the perfect location, time frame & characters to build a lovely story. It bordered on boring. The storyline is flat. It's hard to actually like the characters. I was massively disappointed. I expected so much more. ...more
Mar 02, 2017 rated it liked it
Made it through 60%. Unlike the Lost Wife, this book is very superficial with great detail about trivial issues during immense times. The main character acknowledges that she doesn't bother with anything political. I may try to pick it up again but for now, this is my review.
Nov 05, 2016 rated it did not like it
Cheap romance novel disguised as historical fiction.
Meital Ben-Daniel
Another great historical romance told by Alyson Richman.
Solange, a young woman of nineteen discovers Marth, her grandmother who gave up her child many years ago. Together they embark on a journey of Marth's past and many secrets unfold, as Solange, an inspired young writer embarks on writing her grandmother's story.
This book captivated me from the very beginning. Loosely based on the true account of an abandoned Parisian apartment and the scant information on its owner and her family, Alyson Richman has penned a novel rich in characterization, culture and the arts. There was never a dull moment. I found this novel to be tastefully sensual, without explicit sex scenes, but perfect for fans of women's fiction.

This is the story of two women: Beautiful and reinvented Marthe de Florian, who lived in the late 18
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Alyson Richman is the author of six historical novels including "The Mask Carver's Son," "The Rhythm of Memory (formerly published as Swedish Tango)," The Last Van Gogh," and three international bestsellers: "The Lost Wife.," "The Garden of Letters" and "The Velvet Hours." Her books have been translated into 20 languages. She loves to travel, cook, ride her yellow bicycle, and do ballet. She curre ...more

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