“The Light of Paris” by Eleanor Brown

This is a novel about a granddaughter who is leaving her husband and returns to her childhood home where she finds her grandmother’s journals. She is very surprised at how much they had in common. Both tried to break away from the wealthy, stuffy family mold. Both had creative personalities: The grandmother wanted to be a writer, the granddaughter a painter. And, both their mothers thought that these desires were useless, feeling that marrying well should have been their goals. To make matters worse, it appears that in this family beauty skips a generation and these two were the homely females in their clan. They simply didn’t fit it in.

The story is narrated by the granddaughter in current times. I know nothing of debutante balls and that type of world (I didn’t even realize that the expression “coming out” had another meaning.) Maybe this is why I had a hard time relating to the granddaughter or enjoying her story to achieve self fulfillment. The grandmother’s diary, written in the third person, was much more interesting. She had a short rebellion in Paris and blossomed. This was Paris of 1924 with Hemingway and Picasso so of course her story was more interesting.

The granddaughter becomes obsessed with trying to learn why her grandmother returned to the States, married and followed all the conventional rules that she ran away from. It is not too hard to figure out the grandmother’s reasons. Women, even flappers, didn’t have a lot of options in those days. Through the journals the granddaughter gets the strength to continue what her grandmother began but couldn’t finish; basically learning how to like yourself for who you are. Too much chick lit for me. I would have enjoyed more history in this historical fiction. But I did think the author did a good job of reminding us females that fashion is not beauty. We can be so hard on ourselves for such silly reasons such as having unruly hair or thick ankles.

Publication Date: July 12, 2016

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