Thursday, August 04, 2016

Letters From Paris: A Book Review

Female protagonist at loose ends in her life? Check.

Brooding male love interest with a few secrets in his artistic closet? Check.

Paris locale? Check.

Juliet Blackwell covers all the requisites for a work of romantic women's fiction in her newest release, LETTERS FROM PARIS. She gives her readers Claire Broussard, the orphan girl raised by her grandmother after her mother died and her father proved to be an abusive alcoholic parent. Claire ran from her past, all the way from Louisiana bayou country to Chicago, but she still hasn't found what she's looking for. She is unsatisfied in life, and what self-respecting work of women's fiction doesn't have a main character who isn't satisfied with what she has but feels that more is out there if she just goes looking for it.

While visiting her dying grandmother she reconnects with a mysterious bit of home decor in the form of a popular plaster mask that was shipped from Paris at the close of the Second World War. Inside is a cryptic note and there's the next item on the check list. Claire needs a quest to continue her journey, and that quest is finding out the significance of the note.

So she's off to Paris, the most romantic city in the world, and she meets up with Mr. Darcy as a plaster-caster. While she takes on a little side job as his assistant, the reader is treated to flashbacks told by the woman whose face was used to create the original mask that Claire has long been fascinated by. The story within a story parallels much of Claire's experiences, but it is told in present tense to bring the past more readily into the present.

At any rate, the mystery of the mask is gradually revealed while the relationship between Claire and the Frenchman heats up. It's what you expect in women's fiction, no real surprises or artistic flourishes. Girl meets boy, they dance around, and then they reveal pieces of their past that release the old ghosts and thus ends the haunting. Cue the violins.

For those who consume romances, this is perhaps a more substantial read than most. It's a book that satisfies the cravings for all things sweet and light, seasoned with a touch of life's tearful moments. The ending is happy for everyone, as it should be in this kind of thing. Sometimes it's what you need when everyone else is fretting about what Brexit will mean to the economy.

WIth thanks to Penguin Random House and their First To Read offers.

No comments: