Sunday, August 31, 2014

Women Artists in the Belle Epoche in Paris

Maud Heighton has always wanted to be an artist. Taking her meager inheritance, she goes to Paris where she studies at the Academie Lafond, the only academie in Paris that accepted women. As the winter nears, Maud's funds are running out, and she is often hungry, but she wants to finish one last year.

Tanya, a wealthy Russian, is also a student a Lafond. She befriends Maud and with Yvette, an artist's model, finds a situation for her through Mrs. Harris, a woman who runs a charity finding situations for girls from England and America who have fallen on hard times in Paris. Although, at first the situation seems like the answer to a prayer, the dark side ultimately emerges.

This book is a well researched depiction of the Belle Epoche in Paris. In the final notes, the author cites some of the books she consulted that might interest her readers. The description is beautiful, but may be a bit too much for readers who like a faster pace.

The main characters: Maud, a proper British girl; Tanya, a wealthy Russian: and Yvette, an artist's model who lives in the Paris underworld, present three aspects of what women faced in Paris at that time. The three women bond and become a force that changes the course of the story.

I enjoyed the book. It's well written and well researched. Each unique character, draws us into the story. We care about Maud, but we also want to know the fate of Tanya and Yevette. Although the beginning is rather slow, the pace picks up at the end. If you like historical novels, you won't want to miss this one.

I reviewed this book for the Amazon Vine Program.