It’s 1923, and Helena Parr- Lady Helena Montagu-Douglas-Parr- has recovered from a serious illness that the doctors didn’t think she would survive. She has also survived having her 5 year long engagement broken by her fiancé so he could marry someone else, and London society has frozen her out. Now she is going to live with her aunt in Paris so she can go to art school and live a life for herself rather than for family or society. There she meets other ex-pats, including Hemingway and the F. Scott Fitzgeralds, as well as an American journalist who is handsome, troubled by his past, and perfect.
The book has all the elements to make a really interesting read, but somehow it failed. Helena never really came to life, despite being the focus of the narrative. She seems very flat, as do most of the other characters, even including the avant-garde aunt who lived in sin for many years before marrying. Everyone acts perfectly mannerly and delightful all the time. I felt like I was reading a book proposal rather than a completed book; the characters needed filling out, there needed to be more emotion, a little more conflict. Some parts are just lovely; the author excelled at describing clothing, buildings, and even meals. It’s too bad the characters aren’t as well drawn as the settings. I guess maybe this book could be called a cozy historical romance, as that seemed to be the focus.
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