Book: The Light of Paris by Eleanor Brown
Publisher: G.P. Putnam’s Sons
Publication date: 2016
Source: Borrowed e-book from library
Summary: In 1999, Madeleine feels trapped in a marriage and a life she doesn’t want in Chicago. During a trip to visit her mother in a small city in Arkansas, Madeleine discovers her grandmother’s diaries. It turns out that her grandmother, Margie, had similar desperate dreams that were destined to not come true.
Thoughts: I got a kick out of Eleanor Brown’s first novel, Weird Sisters, about three sisters in a family that’s given to quoting Shakespeare while failing at life. Weird Sisters was intensely clever, which I enjoyed intellectually, but I didn’t relate to any of the characters very much.
The Light of Paris is less clever but I felt more in touch with both Madeleine and Margie as they explored their lives, their art, and their roles as women.
I was surprised, and mildly disappointed, that Margie’s sections weren’t written as diary entries. I like novels with lots of documents in them and it’s just the sort of clever tactic that I would expect Eleanor Brown to employ after Weird Sisters. Instead, they read like they’re from Margie’s point of view except, once in a while, it’s very clear that we’re being told the story by Madeleine after she’s read that section of Margie’s diary.
Appeal: Anyone interested in the role of creative women in society in the 20th century and beyond will find something of interest. It’s not a new story, but one that we apparently need to keep telling until we figure out how to get it right, both individually and systemically. That’s, essentially, the story I’ll be telling in my NaNoWriMo novel, so that may be one reason that The Light of Paris worked so well for me this month.
I’ll link this review to today’s Dreaming of France link-up. Things are very exciting over there on Paulita’s blog as she’s getting ready to move to France!
Have you read this book? What did you think?