Publication Date: January 19, 2016
Paperback, eBook & AudioBook; 352 Pages
Genre: Historical Fiction
An aristocratic young woman leaves the sheltered world of London to find adventure, passion, and independence in 1920s Paris in this mesmerizing story from the USA Today and internationally bestselling author of Somewhere in France and After the War is Over.
Recovering from a broken wartime engagement and a serious illness that left her near death, Lady Helena Montagu-Douglas-Parr vows that for once she will live life on her own terms. Breaking free from the stifling social constraints of the aristocratic society in which she was raised, she travels to France to stay with her free spirited aunt. For one year, she will simply be Miss Parr. She will explore the picturesque streets of Paris, meet people who know nothing of her past—and pursue her dream of becoming an artist.
A few years after the Great War’s end, the City of Light is a bohemian paradise teeming with actors, painters, writers, and a lively coterie of American expatriates who welcome Helena into their romantic and exciting circle. Among them is Sam Howard, an irascible and infuriatingly honest correspondent for the Chicago Tribune. Dangerously attractive and deeply scarred by the horror and carnage of the war, Sam is unlike any man she has ever encountered. He calls her Ellie, sees her as no one has before, and offers her a glimpse of a future that is both irresistible and impossible.
As Paris rises phoenix-like from the ashes of the Great War, so too does Helena. Though she’s shed her old self, she’s still uncertain of what she will become and where she belongs. But is she strong enough to completely let go of the past and follow her heart, no matter where it leads her?
Artfully capturing the Lost Generation and their enchanting city, Moonlight Over Paris is the spellbinding story of one young woman’s journey to find herself, and claim the life—and love—she truly wants.
“Returns with mastery once more to the World War I era…. This is a moving and memorable book.” — Pam Jenoff, bestselling author of The Winter Guest
“Meticulously researched and richly detailed, Moonlight Over Paris paints an enchanting picture… The elegance of Robson’s prose flows through every page, sweeping the reader from London’s aristocracy to the Parisian art scene and beyond… a heartwarming love story that left me aching for a journey back in time.” — Kristina McMorris, New York Times bestselling author of The Edge of Lost
“The vibrant whirl of the Paris art community is the ideal setting for this novel of healing and growth. Robson’s lovely prose allows the reader to savor the atmosphere of the Lost Generation, as well as the personal struggles of her characters.” — RT Book Reviews
“Robson is a master of evoking atmospheric detail that transports readers back in time and place. I loved every page!” — Renee Rosen, author of White Collar Girl
“Robson gives the concept of self-discovery amid the enchanting streets of Paris a fresh spin in Moonlight Over Paris. Delightful and romantic, readers will devour Robson’s latest work.” — Heather Webb, author of Rodin’s Lover
Jennifer Robson clearly has a gift for setting and for making history come alive in a story. Readers will delight in cameos from the Hemingways, the Fitzgeralds, the Murphys, and others from the Lost Generation in Paris in the 1920s. I particularly enjoyed the glimpse into Ernest and Hadley Hemingway’s life – though it felt slightly bittersweet if you know what’s in their not-so-distant future.
The aspect of the novel that I found most intriguing was the friendships that Helena formed at the art school. “They ought not to have become friends, for they were as different as four people could be…” Helena – wealthy English aristocrat trying to make it on her own as an artist in Paris (albeit while living with her aunt who conveniently pays for everything). Étienne – bold, compassionate, exceptionally talented but the target of a growing tide of prejudice. Mathilde – working class, wife of a wounded veteran, mother to a young daughter. Daisy – American heiress, closely guarded by an overprotective father. These four friends represent nearly all walks of life, united by their love of art, bonded by what they see in common. A rather eclectic group to be sure but it gave the novel a depth and heart that I’m not sure would have been there otherwise.
Speaking of Daisy, I wanted more of her story at the end. It seemed passed over and abandoned, with no answers to the questions I had, but I understand that her story does continue in Jennifer Robson’s novella in the collection “Fall of Poppies“. So I of course am adding that to my TBR
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The romance between Sam and Helena felt a bit one-sided. Sam – so obviously in love with Helena – made my heart ache with his longing for this love he feels he cannot pursue. His kisses – the tender and the desperate – had me reaching for my fan! But Helena just didn’t seem all that passionate about Sam. The words were there, but I didn’t sense the emotion behind them. Even at the end, when I really should have.
Aunt Agnes was by far my favorite character of the group. She made me smile every time I encountered her on the page. And Hamish the dog – a minor character to be sure but one that I looked forward to seeing. “There really was nothing like a dog to make one feel as if one mattered to the world.”
Bottom Line: 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.)
My Rating: 3.5 stars / A good read!
KissingBook level: 3 / May forget to breathe on occasion
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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