Author: Juliet Blackwell
Publisher/Publication Date: Berkley; September 6, 2016
Genre: Historical Fiction; Mysery; Contemporary
Source/Format: First to Read; eARC
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Synopsis from Goodreads...
From the New York Times bestselling author of The Paris Keycomes the story of a mysterious work of art and the woman inspired to uncover its history in the City of Light...
After surviving the accident that took her mother’s life, Claire Broussard worked hard to escape her small Louisiana hometown. But these days she feels something lacking. Abruptly leaving her lucrative job in Chicago, Claire returns home to care for her ailing grandmother. There, she unearths a beautiful sculpture that her great-grandfather sent home from Paris after World War II. At her grandmother’s urging, Claire travels to Paris to track down the centuries old mask-making atelier where the sculpture, known only as “L’inconnue”—or the Unknown Woman—was created. With the help of a passionate sculptor, Claire discovers a cache of letters that offer insight into the life of the Belle Epoque woman immortalized in the work of art. As Claire uncovers the unknown woman’s tragic fate, she begins to discover secrets—and a new love—of her own...
What do I even want to say about this book?
After I finished reading Letters from Paris by Juliet Blackwell, I had to find the words to convey what I wanted to say. Well, I thoroughly enjoyed this book. Letters from Paris was a contemporary novel in all the right ways, balancing a historical aspect, traditions, and art—sculpting, mask-making, etc.—with alternating POVs between the past and the life of Claire Broussard, which was set in modern times. It was also about love, loss, family, and secrets set in Paris, France.
What I liked most about Letters from Paris was how the different pieces of the story fit together. It dealt with so many different things—from personal loss to sculpting—yet it all worked as a coherent and emotional story. Blackwell had a way with characterizations. She produced a series of convincing circumstances that elicited an emotional response. I felt for the characters and that made the story a page-turner.
I really liked the plot. And, yes, while the beginning of this book was kind of sad, it was easy to get into the story. I wanted to know more about Claire and her family. Claire was a good narrator, and I enjoyed reading from her perspective as she navigated Paris, while trying to regain some sense of direction/motivation after very abrupt changes in her life—relationship, employment, and a personal tragedy.
Blackwell handled all the different themes really well, and my favorite aspects of Letters from Paris were the relationships in Claire’s life. The setting was also great too, and while I’ve never been to Paris, Blackwell did a good job with describing the places that Claire visited. The mystery of the woman behind the l’inconnue mask was pretty cool too, and I liked it just as much as I enjoyed the historical parts of the book.
The romance was sweet. It wasn’t spontaneous and certainly didn’t happen overnight, or even at first sight. It unfolded slowly as the characters got to understand and know one another better. Blackwell did a good job developing the chemistry between Claire and her love interest. I loved the dialogue between them. In fact, I really liked the dialogue between all the characters throughout the novel. Each interaction/conversation added something else to the story, which was great and kept the book interesting.
Letters from Paris was just a lovely book. From start to finish, this book was everything I was looking for and more. Blackwell has another book set in Paris—The Paris Key—and now, I’m curious to know if it’s just as good as Letters from Paris. And since my eARC has already expired for this book, I do want to look into eventually getting a physical copy.
This copy of the book was provided by First to Read (publisher) for this review, thank you!
About the author...
Juliet Blackwell is the New York Times bestselling author ofLetters from Paris and The Paris Key. She also writes the Witchcraft Mystery series and the Haunted Home Renovation series. As Hailey Lind, Blackwell wrote the Agatha-nominated Art Lover's Mystery series. A former anthropologist, social worker, and professional artist, Juliet is a California native who has spent time in Mexico, Spain, Cuba, Italy, the Philippines, and France...