Updated: Dec 17, 2018
The Light of Paris by Eleanor Brown
Published by G. P. Putnam's Sons, Copyright © 2016 by Eleanor Brown
Rating: 4.5/5 stars
Summary by @thebaladefactory #baladeblog
Margaret, or Margie, and her granddaughter, Madeleine, are more similar than different. Unfortunately, Madeleine is going through a period of life where she feels isolated and unhappy: recognition of a rapidly deteriorating marriage, pressure to meet certain expectations, and a constant nagging for a career that she never really pursued. She is always thinking to herself, "If I could only be like _____," insert any name, really. Madeleine constantly thinks about how she should be elegant like her grandmother, more cold-natured and practical like her mother, or picture-perfect like her hometown classmates who have now settled into domestic bliss. The last person who Madeleine expects to lift her out of her despair is her deceased grandmother, until she uncovers a dusty diary once belonging to Margie in her mother's attic. Through this discovery, Madeleine is whisked away to Margie's youth, 1920s Paris. The grandmother she never knew is slowly revealed to her, a process that teaches and supports her through her present-day troubles, building up the courage to be her true self.
What I liked about this book
This book is an easy and more than pleasurable read. I found myself really rooting for both main characters - Madeleine and her grandmother Margie - throughout the entire book. Relationships are messy, and this book reminds readers of the beautiful messes that can result.
The characters are super relatable. I mean, who has never questioned their life choices or wanted to say "screw you" to all of the rules and societal expectations? Or to say "screw you" to the expectations our parents have, or our spouses even? There are several "screw you" moments in this book that make you want to reach through the pages and give a high five or fist bump. The multi-generational aspect of the storylines help to compare and contrast women's issues spanning over one hundred years.
@thebaladefactory is all about solo, female travel - and that is a huge theme of the book! The interwoven stories of Madeleine and Margie do an excellent job of demonstrating the transformative power of stepping out of one's comfort zone and going solo from time to time. They both have some intense and reflective moments that could've only resulted from decisions to go it alone.
Both Madeleine and Margie experience some emotionally low moments at different points in their stories; there were several times when I wasn't sure if or how the book would end well. Despite several desperate situations, I appreciated how in the end you have the #everthingisgonnabealright vibe, even if it's not the fairy-tale ending the reader hopes for necessarily
Women are complex creatures - and you get to meet many of our multifaceted species in this book. We are different, but the same; we all struggle, and this book made me think a ton about how women are pressured to live up to what society says we should do and how we should be. I definitely thought a lot about how to be a better support through differences, mainly with my own female friends and family members.
Calling all #francophiles - the Parisian vibes from the 1920s in this book are exactly what I needed to take a little escape to France during the read.
What I did not like about this book
I did get a bit bored with some of the self-depreciating talk of the female characters, but I do agree that it was necessary to get into their psyche and understand them completely. Lots of ruminating behavior, but hey, that's part of being female.
Some aspects of the book are VERY predictable. I get small satisfaction out of learning that my predictive capabilities are on point, so this did not bother me terribly. If you aren't in the mood for a romance with the pretty typical twists and turns, this book may not be for you.
Although Paris is la ville lumière, or the city of light, and both of the characters have "enlightening" experiences - I am not sold on this title as it relates to the plot and storylines.
Frankly, what I really wanted to do was drop everything and actually go to Paris, but that didn't seem particularly practical.
-Madeleine (and a thought that runs through my own head no less than 5 times per day!)
What was the point of pretending things you didn't feel?
The woman I wanted to be would have. The woman I was going to be would.
Have you read The Light of Paris? If so, what did you think? It makes my cut of #wanderfulreads because of the transformational #solotravel experiences and its focus on #americansinparis during the 1920s. Happy Reading! Bonne Lecture!
Bon Voyage et Belle Balade.
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