Book review: Novel tells story of family, love, finding oneself

This book review of "The Light of Paris" by Eleanor Brown, was written by Chris Painter, director of Bud Werner Memorial Library. This review was originally published in Steamboat Pilot.

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ISBN: 9780399158919
Availability: Special Order
Published: G.P. Putnam's Sons - July 12th, 2016

Eleanor Brown, author of the New York Times bestselling novel, “The Weird Sisters,” has crafted another irresistible story of family, love and finding oneself in "The Light of Paris."

Unbeknownst to Madeleine, her mother has decided to sell the large family house and move to a trendy condo. While going through the family boxes in the attic, Madeleine stumbles across her grandmother’s journals and thus, begins Margaret’s story.

Margaret “Margie,” too, is trapped and suffers an impossible-to-please mother who expects her to settle down and marry. When her cousin, Evelyn, embarks on a trip to Paris, Margie is recruited to be her chaperone and eagerly accepts, delighted to escape an oppressive and utterly dull life at home. Thus begins a wildly romantic foray into Paris life and culture, giving her the freedom to spend her days and nights as she chooses.

Madeleine, too, begins to discover joy by stumbling across a whole new group of creative friends and places in the town where she grew up, enabling her to actually be herself for the first time.

There are many parallels between the lives of Madeleine and the grandmother she never knew. Each struggle with meeting the expectations of others versus being who they really want to be. Margie longs to be a writer, something her own mother believed was a frivolous waste of time, while Madeleine longs to be an artist, having given up her paints and easel when she married.

Brown has created vivid, engaging characters the reader falls for quickly. Don’t we all struggle with the expectations we impose on ourselves and the conflicting desire to discover what really makes us happy and brings us joy? "The Light of Paris" is a touching and thoroughly captivating summer read.