Another beautifully written historical novel from the talented Alyson Richman (one of my favorites). Awarded four stars on Goodreads.
Few authors are as adept at skillfully using subtle detail to so thoroughly evoke a past era. In this book, Richman brings to life both the late 1800s Belle Époque in Paris, as well as the mounting fear and suspense of that same city on the brink of World War II. And the whole thing is based on an obscure newspaper clipping about the discovery of an apartment that had been abandoned but maintained for 70 years and a few scattered facts.
Richman weaves the human tale of the budding relationship between a grandmother and granddaughter, who meet for the first time late in the elderly woman’s life. By sharing the stories of her earlier life as a courtesan and art muse, Marthe opens up a new world of art and beauty for her granddaughter, Solange, while both discover a new sense of family. Outside the hours these two spend together, Solange undertakes her first romantic relationship with the son of a Parisian bookstore owner, who also happens to be Jewish.
Both these women’s stories are beautiful in their own unique ways. But together they make for an exceptional reading experience. Well worth the time.
You may also be interested in my reviews of a few of her other novels: