There is but one Paris. Vincent Van Gogh.
Maud Heighton came to Lafond's famous Academie to paint, and to flee the constraints of her small English town. It took all her courage to escape, but Paris, she quickly realizes, is no place for a light purse. While her fellow students enjoy the dazzling decadence of the Belle Epoque, Maud slips into poverty. Quietly starving, and dreading another cold Paris winter, she stumbles upon an opportunity when Christian Morel engages her as a live-in companion to his beautiful young sister, Sylvie.
Maud is overjoyed by her good fortune. With a clean room, hot meals, and an umbrella to keep her dry, she is able to hold her head high as she strolls the streets of Montmartre. No longer hostage to poverty and hunger, Maud can at last devote herself to her art.
But all is not as it seems. Christian and Sylvie, Maud soon discovers, are not quite the darlings they pretend to be. Sylvie has a secret addiction to opium and Christian has an ominous air of intrigue. As this dark and powerful tale progresses, Maud is drawn further into the Morels' world of elegant deception. Their secrets become hers, and soon she is caught in a scheme of betrayal and revenge that will plunge her into the darkness that waits beneath this glittering city of light.
A special thank you to St. Martin's Press and NetGalley for an ARC in exchange for an honest review.
The Paris Winter, a story of contrasts: light and darkness, wealth and poverty, loyalty and betrayal, innocence and awakening set during the vivid Belle Époque—a remarkable historical fiction thriller, written by master storyteller Imogen Robertson.
Ah, escape to Paris, set in 1909, we meet Englishwoman, Maud Heighton. She is studying art at the Académie Lafond, an all-female painting school suitable for women of a middle-class background. However, like so many starving artists, she is out of money.
When one of the fellow students (Rose) is found dead, after committing suicide, she begins to second guess her career, as she does not want her life to turn in this direction, putting a damper on her aspiration of being an artist.
Meet, Yvette, young lower-class Frenchwoman who makes her living as an artist's model and sometimes supplements her living by having rich lovers to help out with expenses.
Next, Russian Tanya, glamorous, rich, bright and sensational—assures Maud she can help her out with her financial problem with a job so she can still paint and still afford to reside in the City of Lights.
Maud meets French gentleman, Christian Morel, and is to be a companion to sickly sister, opium addict Sylvie Morel, while teaching her to paint and sketch, in turn for living in the luxurious setting. At first, she is delighted as she enjoys her company, she has a place to live, good food, and her painting improves.
However, nothing is as it appears—a nightmare of murder, danger, and violence. When it looks too good, beware. The three girls Maud, Tanya and Yvette become friends and find themselves caught up in a dangerous web of deception, fraud, revenge, jewels, corruption and a criminal plot.
As the pace picks up,the author takes us on an exciting adventure and journey through a series of paintings with vivid descriptions of Paris and its strong contrasts between the glamour, allure, and the dark and poor. I was captured by the art, the talented artists, the passion, the vibrant city (which I love), the architecture, and the array of eccentric characters. There was also a nice contrast between the three girls’ personalities, which made for an interesting mix of wit, humor, and intrigue.
Beautifully written, with literary prose, descriptive settings, well-crafted plot, likable and complex characters, and well-researched Parisian period details— Historical fiction fans will love the intrigue and emotion of this compelling story, a historical literary psychological mystery thriller of greed and deceit which hooks you until the end. Looking forward to reading more from this author. (Nice Front Cover) .