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Moonlight Over Paris: A Novel Kindle Edition
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|Length: 287 pages||Word Wise: Enabled||Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled|
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|Book 3 of 3 in The Great War|
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From the Publisher
Jennifer Robson talks with Beatriz Williams
Beatriz Williams is the author of The Secret Life of Violet Grant and the forthcoming novel A Certain Age, among other books.
Beatriz Williams (BW): Congratulations on Moonlight Over Paris! Paris is so close to my heart, and you do such a wonderful job of vibrantly bringing the City of Lights to life in this novel. What drew you to this setting?
Jennifer Robson (JR): I think it was a case of Paris being Paris, to be perfectly honest. I spent a lot of time there in my teens and twenties, and I've been in love with the city ever since. I think it's the way it mixes together the grand and mundane—the extraordinary and the everyday—that makes Paris such an unforgettable place. And the food isn't bad, either!
BW: You're a trained historian as well as an author. How does your academic background help you in doing research for your historical novels?
JR: I think my years at Oxford gave me a pretty thoroughgoing knowledge of British and European social history in the first half of the twentieth century, and so when it came time to dig into the details of life in Liverpool during the immediate post-war period, for example, or what it was like to be an expatriate writer or artist in Paris in the 1920s, I had a sense of where to find the information I needed—and sometimes just knowing where to look is half the battle.
BW: Readers are treated to glimpses of several familiar names—Hemingway, Gertrude Stein, the Fitzgeralds—which is always such a delight for history lovers. Was it fun to pull them on to the page?
JR: It was so much fun, although a little nerve-wracking as well. I didn't want them to take over the narrative, and at first I wasn't sure if they belonged in the book or not. But the expatriate community in Paris in the early 1920s was a small one, and it seemed improbable that Helena would come to Paris and not meet them. I tried very hard to present the real-life figures as Helena would have seen them, without the benefit of hindsight to sharpen her eye. Ernest Hemingway, for example, is simply Hadley's husband to Helena—the iconic figure we picture when we hear his name simply didn't exist in 1925.
BW: Sam Howard, an American and a newspaperman, is an intriguing hero. Where did you draw inspiration from for this character?
JR: Sam's character is drawn in part from memories of my grandfather, who was a newspaperman in Vancouver in the 1930s and 1940s. Sam is a little more talkative than my grandfather, who was famously monosyllabic, but they both have a similarly direct, no-nonsense approach to life. Like my grandfather, Sam is also the sort of man whose natural reserve tends to mask the depth of his feelings—a walking definition of 'still waters run deep'.
BW: This novel marks the end of your Great War era trilogy. What's next?
JR: My next book is set in London during the Second World War. The heroine, Ruby Sutton, is a young and rather unseasoned American journalist who, in the summer of 1940, is given the plum assignment of covering the war from London while seconded to a British newsmagazine. I studied the period pretty intensively while working on my doctorate, and I've always wanted to write about life in Britain during World War II.
About the Author
Jennifer Robson is the USA Today and #1 Toronto Globe & Mail bestselling author of Somewhere in France, After the War Is Over and Moonlight over Paris. She holds a doctorate in British economic and social history from Saint Antony's College, University of Oxford, where she was a Commonwealth Scholar and an SSHRC Doctoral Fellow.
Jane Copland has over twenty-five years' experience in broadcasting and voice-overs. Working mainly in television, she has been a BBC newsreader, presenter, and continuity announcer. She has narrated many documentaries for BBC 2, Channel 4, and the History Channel. For her first audiobook, The Palace of Curiosities by Rosie Garland, she played both female and male roles and a host of accents from posh to cockney, Dutch to Italian.--This text refers to the audioCD edition.
From Publishers Weekly
- Publication date : January 19, 2016
- File size : 855 KB
- Word Wise : Enabled
- Print length : 287 pages
- Publisher : William Morrow Paperbacks (January 19, 2016)
- Text-to-Speech : Enabled
- Enhanced typesetting : Enabled
- X-Ray : Not Enabled
- Language: : English
- ASIN : B00WR12LFC
- Lending : Not Enabled
- Best Sellers Rank: #121,989 in Kindle Store (See Top 100 in Kindle Store)
- Customer Reviews:
Top reviews from the United States
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The author takes her time when setting her story. 1920’s France with its hopping night life scene, artsy angst, and creative juices definitely breathes in this book. A world trying to rejuvenate after a devastating war comes across in spades. The author’s research and time in getting her details right is evident.
The characters, including the leads Helena and Howard, are very human and three-dimensional. They all have their quirks and foibles, avoiding stereotypes which are refreshing. I liked how Helena was strong enough of a personality to stand up to her parents when departing from their planned journey for her life. She wants to pursue her art and so does.
Yet, I found her to be without fire. Beyond standing up for her choice of life, I found her to be pretty apathetic. Her constant bemoaning on how here art skills aren’t that great or how her teacher isn’t paying attention to her go tiring quickly.
Unfortunately, Howard didn’t save this part of the story either. He’s great when he gets page time, but that isn’t that often. It seems like for half the story, he isn’t even there at all. While the main focus of the book is really Helena’s growth as a person and an artist, a book that touts itself as a “romance” certainly lacked a bit in that department with its hero absent many times.
Overall, this book was OK but ultimately forgettable. I enjoyed the story and characters during the tale, but I had no problem going onto the next book afterwards. The writer has written more engrossing works than this; don’t start with this tale if you haven’t read her before. But still, an pleasurable read and diversion from hectic daily life.
First in Antibes, and then in Paris, Helena thrives. She makes her first real friends in life at the school, learns much more about drawing and painting than she already knew, and meets a brash American newspaper man named Sam. Each of her three best friends and Sam have their own unique story involving social and personal problems. MOONLIGHT OVER PARIS was a very enjoyable read as many of the minor characters were real figures of Paris in the 1920s. To aid in her storyline, author Jennifer Robson introduces Sara and Gerald Murphy as friends of Helena’s. Helena and Sara had met years earlier when Sara and her Wiborg sisters were on their grand tour of Europe. Sara and Helena cross paths during a discussion of modern art and cubism and remained acquaintances through the years. Helena meets up with the artful couple and their friends on the La Garoupe beach in Antibes, and again a few times in Paris. Robson understands how the Murphys brought so many artists of all types together in such a prolific period of their lives. Helena also meets some other Lost Generation members at one of Natalie Barney’s salons, as well as via a visit to Gertrude Stein’s. Of course, Helena was relegated to the kitchen with Hadley Hemingway and others under the direction of Alice Toklas, as were most of the wives and women guests at 27, rue de Fleurus.
Besides encountering many of the Lost Generation characters, Robson does a wonderful job of introducing her readers to the city of Paris. Helena’s aunt Agnes lives on the Ile-Saint-Louis, she and her friends rented a Left Bank art studio, and she visits such places as Notre Dame and Sylvia Beach’s Shakespeare and Company.
Helena’s story was somewhat predictable, but I can never get enough of the Lost Generation, Paris in the 1920s, and any art-related story combining the two. After reading this third novel of Robson’s, I surely want to check out her previous two books.
Top reviews from other countries
The book kept me amused on a very wet and stormy day, curled up with the cat in front of the fire. It was a perfect rainy day read!