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The Art of Rebellion Paperback – June 15, 2016
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Gabrielle is a very complex character. She is very trusting, naive, and idealistic. She is very prideful, prone to lying, stubborn, rebellious, and selfish. However, she is very determined to fulfill her goals and dreams. She also must go through life lessons and learn from her mistakes. Thus, Gabrielle’s character does mature. She grows into a confidant and smarter young woman. Instead of running away from her problems as she did earlier in the novel, she learns to confront them. Thus, Gabrielle is an endearing character that readers can relate to because from the mistakes she has made she becomes a stronger character.
Overall, this story is a coming-of-age tale and a journey of self-discovery. The message of this book is to pursue your dreams, but never lose sight of what's important in your life. Except for Gabrielle, I did not really see any depth in character development. I loved the setting of belle epoque Paris in this novel. I loved the historical details in this book like the suffrage movement and the Paris Exposition. Thus, I not only recommend this novel to those interested in art, historical fiction, and Paris, but also to fans of Belle Epoque, Marie, Dancing, and A Mad Wicked Folly.
(Note: I received this book free of charge from the publisher.)
However, when she arrives at the Gare Montparnasse, Gabrielle discovers her grandmother no longer lives at the address in Montmartre, and no-one knows where she has gone…
Finding herself unexpectedly alone in this large city, Gabrielle very quickly discovers that she has more pressing problems, she has to find not only lodgings, but a means to support herself, if she is to gain a place at the academy and search for her missing grandmother.
As we travel with Gabrielle in an age where young women of good birth didn’t wander around on their own, we watch her make friends, survive some distressing situations, and learn some very hard life lessons.
Through her eyes, we discover the Montmartre of this time, a place which ‘behaves much like the village it was before being annexed by the city,’ and marvel at the beautiful Sacré-Cœur (which has not been completed in this story). As her friendship deepens with Philippe Lucien and others, we join them as they visit the Expo, and discover the still world famous Moulin Rouge, sampling the vibrant night life, and the larger than life characters. Through her, we meet, and enter the world of the flamboyant artists who inhabited this area, and take a peep into their lives. We visit the Louvre museum, and enjoy the exotic places of the time like the Botanical gardens and the wild animals kept in its zoo. Life for her is exciting, sometimes frightening but always interesting as she strives to be accepted as an artist and searches for her beloved grandmother.
Throughout the story you find yourself asking “Can a young girl so naïve in many ways survive in Paris, and will she succeed in studying at the académie?”
What will the future hold or Gabrielle?
Well, the answers all lie in this fascinating story which was inspired by the authors own grandmother. Through her wonderful storytelling she has given the lucky reader not only a wonderful tale but also a glimpse into what life was like in the early 1900’s.
It doesn’t happen in this novel. The author ingeniously makes the heroine, Gabrielle, a girl of her time while giving her a freshness that makes for engaging reading. You really feel her wonder at seeing Paris for the first time, her sense of claustrophobia when hemmed in by the conventions of her time, her passion for expressing herself through art.
The detail and research that’s gone into this book is meticulous and enhances the immersive experience of being in 1900 Paris, with its art salons, charlatans, the 1900 Exposition Universelle, suffragettes, and the Louvre. It’s all seen as bright and shiny new through Gabbi’s eyes. Descriptions such as “a slick line of sweat snaked a path between my shoulder blades and dampened my corset laces” viscerally pull you into Gabrielle’s world. The author uses many French words and terms without explanation; however, the context and the silky smoothness of the writing allows the reader to absorb and understand them effortlessly. By the time I finished the book, I ordered a latte with a French accent.
And this story, being a YA novel after all, also has the requisite heartthrob in the form of the sophisticated and intriguing Philippe, a man with a penchant for hidden cameras and Gabrielle.
This book is a gem and well worth a sunburn.