Rating: Loved It!
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 cafes, 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. (from Goodreads)
Why I Picked This Book: I've been wanting to try Eleanor Brown since I saw reviews for The Weird Sisters a few years ago. Plus, I couldn't turn down the grandmother's diary and Jazz Age Paris!
My Impression: I'm trying to restrain myself from being to gushy but I absolutely thoroughly enjoyed this book. It's a relatively simple story. A woman who has never felt good enough starts to realize that her marriage and her life aren't making her happy and aren't turning her into the person she feels like she needs to be finds the journals of her grandmother, a woman she had always found perfect and intimidating and instead finds a kindred spirit beginning a journey of her own.
I have mixed feelings about books with dual timelines. Very rarely are they both equally interesting and frequently the bulk of the book is set in one time period with the occasional flashback that can be jarring. In The Light of Paris Brown alternates chapters so we get equal time with Madeline in 1999 and Margie in 1924. I loved that at the beginning of Margie's chapters we often get the voice of Madeleine as she explains what she has found in the journal or ponders what she thought she knew about her grandmother. I had no problem slipping in between timelines and felt instantly connected at every chapter change. It was interesting to see very similar emotions and situations over such a large gap of time and to see what opportunities Madeline is able to grab that Margie didn't have access to. I really loved both stories equally and was rooting for them both and holding my breath for each of them as they struggled with what they really wanted and what they had to do.
I really liked how clearly Brown draws the characters and how well we're able to see what's going on in their heads. I liked how complex the choice of making yourself happy is shown. There are consequences and pressures not to disappoint and years and years of habit all of which make decisions far from easy. And making yourself happy isn't just about choices but about taking the responsibility for that happiness.
Overall, I loved this book. The characters are wonderfully vivid and so easy to connect too. My heart ached for them and sang for them at different times and I was sad to see the last of them.
Thanks to the publisher I have one gorgeous hardcover of this book to giveaway! All you have to do is comment below, tell me your favorite read so far this year, and leave an email address I can reach you. On the morning of Tuesday the 19th I'll draw a random number and get in touch with the winner! Giveaway is open till 11:59PM CST on Monday, July 18, 2016. Unfortunately, US addresses only.
Would I Read More of this Series/Author?: Definitely! I really loved this book and am looking forward to visiting more worlds that Brown creates.
Would I Recommend this Book?: Absolutely! I can't recommend this book enough.