The Light of Paris
By: Eleanor Brown
Narrator: Cassandra Campbell
Publisher: PENGUIN Audio
Publication Date: 7/12/2016
My Rating: 4 Stars The miraculous new novel from New York Times–bestselling author Eleanor Brown, whose debut, The Weird Sisters, was a sensation beloved by critics and readers alike. Madeleine is trapped—by her family's expectations, by her controlling husband, and by her own fears—in an unhappy marriage and a life she never wanted. From the outside, it looks like she has everything, but on the inside, she fears she has nothing that matters.
In Madeleine's memories, her grandmother Margie is the kind of woman she should have been—elegant, reserved, perfect. But when Madeleine finds a diary detailing Margie's bold, romantic trip to Jazz Age Paris, she meets the grandmother she never knew: a dreamer who defied her strict, staid family and spent an exhilarating summer writing in cafés, living on her own, and falling for a charismatic artist.
Despite her unhappiness, when Madeleine's marriage is threatened, she panics, escaping to her hometown and staying with her critical, disapproving mother. In that unlikely place, shaken by the revelation of a long-hidden family secret and inspired by her grandmother's bravery, Madeleine creates her own Parisian summer—reconnecting to her love of painting, cultivating a vibrant circle of creative friends, and finding a kindred spirit in a down-to-earth chef who reminds her to feed both her body and her heart.
Margie and Madeleine's stories intertwine to explore the joys and risks of living life on our own terms, of defying the rules that hold us back from our dreams, and of becoming the people we are meant to be.
Released by: PRH Audio Release date: 12 July 2016 The Light of Paris, By Eleanor Brown, Read by Cassandra Campbell
Inspired by a grandmother’s time in Paris, Eleanor Brown (Weird Sisters) eloquently transports readers in THE LIGHT OF PARIS two generations of women-being true to oneself, a journey of self-discovery. Grabbing life and joy. Freedom. Having the heart and courage to be who we really are.
The audiobook, narrated by Cassanda Campbell (one of my favorite narrators), delivered an award-winning performance, a perfect voice for three generations of women. From food, art, culture, gardens, creativity, writing, romance, travel—ah, Paris, Awe-inspiring!
Two stories separated by time and space —1999, when Madeleine, a thirty-something, drifting, unhappily married Chicago woman, visits her aging, perfectionist mother in their small Southern hometown.
She discovers in an attic, the journals of her (secretive life) grandmother, Margie, who spent time in 1924 Paris Jazz Age-a world of freedom, art, and love- which changed her life. What happened to this life, the dreams, aspirations?
This is the life, Madeleine longs for. She never knew this grandmother. Madeleine and Maggie are very similar in many ways. Both generations have demands from family and told to put dreams aside. Obligations. They both did the same—things they swore they would not do. Learning from the past.
Present day: Madeline is miserable in her life. A controlling mother, who has pushed society, marriage, outward appearances, and traditions. Never a thought to one’s own desires.
Following in the steps of her mother, in a loveless marriage to Phillip-she finally has enough with her controlling husband. She never should have married him. She loves to paint and wants to explore things which she has put aside, to be someone else. Someone else’s expectations. Does she have to courage to do the unexpected?
Leaving her husband, she returns to her Southern hometown. She has to endure more critical negativity from her demanding mother. Her mother is appalled. No one divorced.
However, a light of hope. She discovers an old trunk in her mom’s attic, and is surprised by a grandmother’s secret past. Her grandmother, Margie spent time in Paris, writing, a man, an artist, creativity, the dreams. Where did it all go wrong? Why was she not told about her grandmother’s past? How did her own mother come to be the way she is today?
Reading her grandmother’s journals was like reading her own thoughts. She wanted to connect with her and felt something was unfinished. She couldn’t explain why she never felt like she belonged. Could she possibly finish the life for her grandmother? Going abroad by herself signified a bravery she had not considered she possessed.
Can Madeline find her own way? Away from social pedigrees? To dance, eat, travel, laugh, and paint. The what if? Closing your eyes and taking a step off a cliff. Risk versus security.
The promise of Paris and a future to own. Surrounded by people, food, art, friends, community. The possibilities. The unknown.
Thought-provoking: How do choices we make reverberate through generations? How are we influenced by those outside forces? Are children pawns in an endless chess game? Raised with expectations. Why do some siblings break free; while others continue along the same path as previous generations? Giving up happiness.
Carving out a space, a niche -finding the things that are important in life, rather than things forced upon us--from demands, duty, responsibility, money, family and society. Trying to live up to something others want. Expectations. Reality. Can you live your dream?
"A mother’s words, were a grandmother’s legacy of disappointment. The best a granddaughter can do is live in a way to possibly break the cycle."
Beautifully written, a story about the expectations people have for one another. In the process one woman discovers a critical bit of information about her own mother, changing everything she knew about her own mother-daughter relationship.
From Parisian delights, you will be ravenous rushing out for a French baguette, brie, wine Crème brûlée, and fresh berries, while booking a flight to Paris!
“Brown conveys the importance of the arts in creating a life as well the need to heed all voices, even those from the past, in looking to the future.”—Kirkus Reviews “A charming novel about living life on your own terms that will make you long for the streets of Paris.” — Popsugar.com "I adored The Light of Paris. It’s so lovely and big-hearted—it made me long for Paris." —Jojo Moyes, New York Times-bestselling author of After You
“Eleanor Brown is high priestess of that rich place where soulfulness and emotional insight meet laugh-out-loud humor. In her wry and affecting follow-up to The Weird Sisters, we meet Margie and Madeleine—two women separated by decades and continents, but on same essential journey toward self-exploration and self-knowledge. Somehow each must learn to thrust off others’ expectations and their own well-warn fears to reclaim themselves and discover the lives they were always meant for. A deeply rewarding read, The Light of Paris will keep you thinking—and smiling—long after the last page is turned.” —Paula McLain, author of The Paris Wife and Circling the Sun “Paris is always a good idea. It's not just a line from an old movie, it's a credo, and the underlying idea of Eleanor Brown's wise and charming new novel, The Light of Paris. Protagonist Madeleine Spencer is repressed, depressed and downright oppressed in her marriage to a chilly Chicago businessman. When she flees both to her Southern hometown her critical mother is less than welcoming. It's only when Madeleine opens a dusty trunk in the attic of the family home and finds her grandmother Margie's forgotten Parisian diary that Madeleine begins to find her way home--both emotionally and physically. The Light of Paris is a warm and illuminating novel of great hope and heart.” —Mary Kay Andrews, New York Times-bestselling author of Beach Town and Ladies’ Night
About the Author
Eleanor Brown is the New York Times and #1 international bestselling author of The Weird Sisters, hailed by People magazine as “a delightful debut” and “creative and original” by Library Journal.
Her second novel, The Light of Paris, will be published by Putnam Books in the summer of 2016.
Eleanor teaches writing workshops at The Writers' Table in Highlands Ranch, CO, and at Lighthouse Writers Workshop in Denver, CO, as well as writing conferences and centers nationwide.
An avid CrossFit participant, Eleanor is the author of WOD Motivation and a contributor to CrossFit Journal. Born and raised in the Washington, D.C. area, Eleanor lives in Colorado with her partner, writer J.C. Hutchins. Read More