Book Review: The Light of Paris by Eleanor Brown

The Light of ParisThe Light of Paris by Eleanor Brown
Publisher: G.P. Putnam’s Sons
Release Date: July 12, 2016
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Publisher’s Description:

Madeleine is trapped—by her family’s expectations, by her controlling husband, and by her own fears—in an unhappy marriage and a life she never wanted. From the outside, it looks like she has everything, but on the inside, she fears she has nothing that matters.

In Madeleine’s memories, her grandmother Margie is the kind of woman she should have been—elegant, reserved, perfect. But when Madeleine finds a diary detailing Margie’s bold, romantic trip to Jazz Age Paris, she meets the grandmother she never knew: a dreamer who defied her strict, staid family and spent an exhilarating summer writing in cafés, living on her own, and falling for a charismatic artist.

Despite her unhappiness, when Madeleine’s marriage is threatened, she panics, escaping to her hometown and staying with her critical, disapproving mother. In that unlikely place, shaken by the revelation of a long-hidden family secret and inspired by her grandmother’s bravery, Madeleine creates her own Parisian summer—reconnecting to her love of painting, cultivating a vibrant circle of creative friends, and finding a kindred spirit in a down-to-earth chef who reminds her to feed both her body and her heart.

Margie and Madeleine’s stories intertwine to explore the joys and risks of living life on our own terms, of defying the rules that hold us back from our dreams, and of becoming the people we are meant to be.

I liked Margie’s story, which was told through her journal that her granddaughter Madeleine found. However, it was hard for me to muster up much sympathy for a Madeleine, a woman who had grown up rich and married a rich husband and was living the life of a rich socialite. No one forced her to get married and stay in that lifestyle. Her parents wouldn’t have disowned her if she didn’t get married. It was 1999 – she could have done anything really. Her lack of backbone made me angry with her. The reader was supposed to empathize with her but I just couldn’t.

I could empathize with Margie because she was growing up in the early 1900s, a time when women really didn’t have any other choice but to get married in order to have a decent life. And yet Margie is able to rebel for a summer and have a romantic, adventurous summer in Paris. I enjoyed reading about her life and adventures there.

I may have had my expectations too high for this book and that’s why I was so disappointed with it. I loved Eleanor Brown’s first book, The Weird Sisters, and I was hoping to love The Light of Paris just as much. It seems that Brown has fallen victim to the curse of the sophomore slump.

(I received a complementary copy of this book for review.)

  • S.G. Wright

    Yeah I’ve seen other blogs saying they were disappointed with this one. Too bad. Like the title & cover.