2016 Book 225: THE LIGHT OF PARIS by Eleanor Brown

The Light of Paris by Eleanor Brown 
ISBN: 9780399158919 (hardcover)
ISBN: 9780399573736 (ebook)
ISBN: 9780735208179 (large print paperback)
ISBN: 9780451484819 (audiobook)
ASIN: B01839Q44A (Kindle version)
Publication Date: July 12, 2016 
Publisher: G. P. Putnam’s Sons

The miraculous new novel from New York Times–bestselling author Eleanor Brown, whose debut, The Weird Sisters, was a sensation beloved by critics and readers alike.

Madeleine is trapped—by her family’s expectations, by her controlling husband, and by her own fears—in an unhappy marriage and a life she never wanted. From the outside, it looks like she has everything, but on the inside, she fears she has nothing that matters.

In Madeleine’s memories, her grandmother Margie is the kind of woman she should have been—elegant, reserved, perfect. But when Madeleine finds a diary detailing Margie’s bold, romantic trip to Jazz Age Paris, she meets the grandmother she never knew: a dreamer who defied her strict, staid family and spent an exhilarating summer writing in cafés, living on her own, and falling for a charismatic artist.

Despite her unhappiness, when Madeleine’s marriage is threatened, she panics, escaping to her hometown and staying with her critical, disapproving mother. In that unlikely place, shaken by the revelation of a long-hidden family secret and inspired by her grandmother’s bravery, Madeleine creates her own Parisian summer—reconnecting to her love of painting, cultivating a vibrant circle of creative friends, and finding a kindred spirit in a down-to-earth chef who reminds her to feed both her body and her heart.

Margie and Madeleine’s stories intertwine to explore the joys and risks of living life on our own terms, of defying the rules that hold us back from our dreams, and of becoming the people we are meant to be.

Madeleine Bowers Spencer isn’t happy with her life or marriage. She’s unsure of what she wants in life, but she knows it isn’t this. The only thing she can think of is to return to her familial home and reassess life in The Light of Paris by Eleanor Brown.

Madeleine has always felt that she was a disappointment to her mother. She didn’t want to be a society lady. She wanted to be an artist. Painting was an acceptable hobby but not a career goal according to her parents. So she put away her paints and tried her best to fit in. She even married an acceptable man just to make her mother happy. It is only after returning home while taking a “break” from her marriage that Madeleine discovers that she may not be anything like her mother, but she has a lot in common with her maternal grandmother, Margie. Reading through her grandmother’s journals, Madeleine finds that her grandmother often felt as if she didn’t fit in with polite society either, but all that changes when she gets to spend a wonderful summer in Paris. Margie gradually breaks out of her shell and lives the life she always wanted, even if it was only for summer. Can Madeleine truly follow in her grandmother’s footsteps and do the same?

The Light of Paris was a delightfully endearing and fast-paced read. The story is told in alternating voices of Madeleine in 1999 and Margie in 1924. I enjoyed the parallel stories of two women that tried their best to be something they weren’t just to please their families. Both Margie and Madeleine had dreams of who they wanted to be and both seemed to let those dreams die, Margie due to societal restrictions and Madeleine due to perceived restrictions. The Light of Paris is a story about self-discovery and awakening as much as it is about family, life, and love. If you enjoy reading stories about life, hope, and second chances, then you’ll definitely want to read The Light of Paris, and I hope you’ll enjoy it as much as I did. 

Disclaimer: I received an uncorrected proof/review copy of this book from the publisher. I was not paid, required, or otherwise obligated to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

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World Book Night 2014

Here’s a graphic showing all of the books for 2014:

I was so pleased to be chosen as a giver for World Book Night US (WBN) for the third year. This year I chose to give out The Weird Sisters by Eleanor Brown. Even though I was pleased to be chosen for another year, I had some serious reservations.

I’m sorry to say that in my first and second year as a giver, I struggled to find places to give out books and then to actually giveaway books after a place was chosen. My first year I went to a local recreation center and attempted to give out books to the teens participating in an afterschool program. Some of them were interested in receiving anything for free, others were extremely wary about accepting a book even if it was free. It wasn’t until I impressed upon them that they didn’t HAVE to read the book, but might find it interesting if they did read it that they relented and accepted the free book. My first year’s book choice was I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings by Maya Angelou and it took almost two hours to hand out 20 books.

My second year as a giver was a little easier, but not by much. I attended a local Pink Ribbon event and pretty much had a captive audience (or so I thought). Again I was astonished at the number of people that simply refused to accept a free book, no strings attached. My saving grace were students from a local massage therapy school that loved the idea of a free book that wasn’t related to their studies. At least 10 of my 20 books went to the young men and women from this school. Thankfully they were in attendance to give short messages for other attendees and were quite happy about accepting the freebie. Several other vendors accepted copies of the book, but none of the attendees wanted a copy. My book for WBN 2013 was The Language of Flowers by Vanessa Diffenbaugh. It took almost 90 minutes to give out my 20 books in 2013.

Needless to say after two years of attempting to give out books, I was a little concerned about participating in WBN 2014. When I discussed my dilemma at a local book group, a friend suggested I contact a local shelter for women and families. I called and they said “yes, please come.” I wasn’t quite sure what to expect, but I was hopeful that 2014 would be the year for my WBN participation. When I walked into the shelter last night I was a little surprised when I was told there were a few other givers present. I immediately thought, “oh no…I’m going to have problems again this year.” My concerns about giving out book were doubled because I also was giving out a YA book (Bridge to Terabithia by Katherine Paterson) on behalf of another giver that couldn’t participate at the last minute. If giving away 20 books was difficult, then 40 books was going to be disastrous, or so I thought.

I’m glad to report that 2014 was indeed THE year. All 40 of the books I had were distributed within a scant 30-35 minutes after my arrival at the shelter. These women, young women, and young men were so excited about getting books. Some of the mothers came in and chose a book for themselves and one for their children. Other mothers came in, grabbed a book, and came back with their children or friends to pick up a book. I was delighted to see so many people happy to receive books I could have cried. There were a total of 80 books given out at this local shelter and every single one was accepted with gratitude and a smile. This was why I signed up to be giver in 2012, 2013, and again this year. This made my previous two years worth the struggle. If that isn’t reason enough to be happy then how about this, I’ve been invited to come back next year to give out books.

Here’s a photo of just a few of the happy recipients from WBN 2014 from the shelter here in Charleston, West Virginia.

World Book Night’s aim is to spread the love of reading from one person to another person. I hope that at least one person that received books on 04/23/2014 will discover that love. 

Thank you World Book Night US. Thank you to all of the publishers, printers, and shipping companies that helped to make WBN 2014 a possibility. Thank you to the ladies in my book group for their suggestions on possible locations for 2014. Thank you to the YWCA of Charleston for allowing me to go to their local shelter and give out books. Thank you to my local library, the Kanawha County Public Library, for receiving our WBN books. And finally, a huge “thank you” to Elizabeth F. at the Kanawha County Public Library for assuming the duties this year for the WBN books and making posters for the WBN givers in our area. I hope I’m chosen to be a WBN giver in 2015 because this year was simply amazing!

Did you participate in World Book Night this year? Did you see someone giving out books for World Book Night? Please share your WBN story.

Want to learn more about World Book Night? Please visit World Book Night US for information about the program in the United States. If you reside in the UK or Ireland, please visit World Book Night UK for additional information.