After losing her fiancé in the Vietnam War, nineteen-year-old Laurel Haley takes a job in England, hoping the distance will mend her shattered heart. Laurel expects the pain might lessen but does not foresee the beguiling man she meets or that they’ll go to Paris, where the city’s magic will take over and alter everything Laurel believes about love.
Thirty years later, Laurel’s daughter Annie is newly engaged and an old question resurfaces: who is Annie’s father and what happened to him? Laurel has always been vague about the details and Annie’s told herself it doesn’t matter. But with her impending marriage, Annie has to know everything. Why won’t Laurel tell her the truth?
The key to unlocking Laurel’s secrets starts with a mysterious book about an infamous woman known as the Duchess of Marlborough. Annie’s quest to understand the Duchess, and therefore her own history, takes her from a charming hamlet in the English countryside, to a decaying estate kept behind barbed wire, and ultimately to Paris where answers will be found at last.
I enjoyed this story for the rich bits of history and biography revealed through long-lost discovered correspondence and the two main narrators of the story. The most entertaining character in the book was The Duchess of Marlborough, who tries her hardest to deny that she is, indeed, the duchess.
The story does some time hopping as each chapter reveals another piece of the puzzle concerning the duchess and the main female protagonist’s parentage. The pacing of the story is rather slow, which I have come to expect with novels that interweave the threads of multiple characters and different generations of a family. But it was a nice kind of slow. The kind of slow that goes great with a glass of wine and a bubble bath.
In addition to the fun mystery at the heart of the story that concerns identity and familial bonds, the author held my attention with the lush descriptions of Gilded Age New York, late Belle Epoque Paris, and the luscious English country side.
I enjoyed the witty dialogue in this literary mystery. There are several laugh-out-loud moments throughout that you can imagine translating perfectly onto the big screen. This book definitely has a certain cinematic appeal because of the vivid descriptions and complicated characters. It is the perfect read for a lazy summer weekend when you want to indulge in an atmospheric story for some armchair travel.
If you have had the pleasure of watching the Smithsonian Channel’s two seasons of Million Dollar American Princesses and enjoyed it, then this book will be right up your ally. It has the same appeal.
Enter below for the chance to WIN a paperback copy of Michelle Gable’s lovely story, I’ll See You in Paris.
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