Type: Historical Romance
Publisher: William Morrow Paperback
My Copy: Sent
It’s the spring of 1924, and Lady Helena Montagu-Douglas-Parr has just arrived in France. On the mend after a near-fatal illness, she is ready to embrace the restless, heady allure of the City of Lights. Her parents have given her one year to live with her eccentric aunt in Paris and Helena means to make the most of her time. She’s quickly drawn into the world of the Lost Generation and its circle of American expatriates, and with their encouragement, she finds the courage to pursue her dream of becoming an artist.
One of those expats is Sam Howard, a journalist working for the Chicago Tribune. Irascible, plain-spoken, and scarred by his experiences during the war, Sam is simply the most fascinating man she has ever met. He’s also entirely unsuitable. As Paris is born anew, rising phoenix-like from the ashes of the Great War, Helena realizes that she, too, is changing. The good girl she once was, so dutiful and obedient, so aware of her place in the world, is gone forever. Yet now that she has shed her old self, who will she become, and where, and with whom, does she belong…?
I love the setting of this book, Europe in the early 1920’s, the world had just survived the “war to end all wars” and everyone was enjoying living again. Change was all around and the heroine is ready to embrace it.
Helena survived scarlet fever and as she gets well she makes a decision to live her life to the fullest. Her aunt Agnes lives in Paris, a place she can study her art and escape the painful memories of London. For five years she was engaged, and when her fiancé returned from the war, he broke it off, saying he loved another. She was sad but realized she was not in love, however all their friends and acquaintances blamed her for the breakup, and many shunned her. For the first time in years she is looking forward to her future.
Good friends Sara and Gerald introduce Helena to Sam Howard while in Antibes before she leaves for Paris; he is a young American working for a newspaper in Paris. She promises to contact him when she gets to school, however hesitates and instead throws herself into her studies at the art institute and enjoys spending time with new friends Mathilde, Daisy and Etienne. When she eventually runs into Sam he is quickly engulfed into her world and they all enjoy the golden age between wars and before the depression, when art was alive and change is everywhere.
This is a story about life, friendship and a growing romance between two people who are experiencing a new world after the First World War. I enjoyed the story immensely and look forward to reading more from this author.
Although a bit tentative in her new surroundings, Helena is just beginning to live. She has been sheltered for most of her life and at times shows it as she enjoys her time at art school, as long as the teacher does not know she is there. However I love how she grows and gets more confident throughout the story and it is a testament to her new friends and time away from home that brings out the best in her.
Sam is hard to get to know, they meet because of friends and he acts like he wants to pursue a relationship but Helena is unsure. After several months they meet again in Paris and he is happy to spend time with her, but soon his job and something he is hiding make him back off and it is not until secrets are revealed does his behavior make sense. So Sam and Helena’s romance is slow in developing; they form a strong relationship through the months they are together, knowing that after this year, life will take them in different directions. They try to keep it light but there is no denying how they feel.
The bond between Helena and her friends is amazing. I love how they experienced Paris, art and their lives, during the year. They formed a connection that will never break and although Sam was more of an outsider because of his demanding job, they accepted him when he was around.
The pace is slow but seems to work for this setting, we experience Helena’s adventures in Paris and learn how she grows and puts her past behind her. There is a sense of romance in this story as Helena and Sam’s feelings develop into love, but it is more about relationships and personal growth set in a most romantic time before the world is torn apart again.
I give Moonlight Over Paris by Jennifer Robson 4 stars!