ARC Reviews, Book Reviews, Contemporary, Historical Fiction

Book Review: The Light of Paris by Eleanor Brown


I’m a sucker for books with the Eifel Tower on the cover… #NoShame.


TheLightofParisAuthor:  Eleanor Brown

Genre: Historical Fiction • Contemporary

Version:  eBook

Publisher:  G.P. Putnam’s Sons

Source: NetGalley


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Book Description

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.



The Light of Paris includes two timelines with two distinct women: Margie in the 1920s and Madeleine in 1999.  In the more recent timeline, Madeleine seemingly has it all – the perfect husband, wealth, high society – but behind closed doors Madeleine craves more from life than being her husband’s arm piece.  One day Madeleine stumbles upon her Grandmother’s diary from her early 20s when she traveled to Paris.  Madeleine soon discovers that her Grandmother had another side to her that she never knew.

I would classify this as a “historical fiction beach read.”  Historical Fiction can sometimes be a little heavier, but The Light of Paris was a lighter read with just a touch of depth to it.  Both stories are about women discovering who they are & what they want out of life.   

I enjoyed Margie’s storyline the most – a young woman discovering herself in Paris in the 1920s.  Margie transforms throughout this book from a submissive daughter, in line with how women behaved in those days, to an independent women out for adventure.  If I am being honest, I would have preferred the story to have just followed Margie’s story instead of the dual perspective.

I’ve got to admit, Madeleine’s character was a bit of a struggle for me.  She just seemed to complain for the majority of the book.  She didn’t have a purpose in life, she was unhappy in her controlling marriage, her mother was too critical, she couldn’t eat what she wanted, she didn’t paint anymore, etc. etc.  It felt a little “woe is me!”  Since Madeleine’s story was set in a more modern time, I just didn’t sympathize with her struggles.  Maybe I am too cold, but I can’t sympathize with a woman who allows herself to be treated this way, especially by the people who are supposed to care about her the most.  Despite the fact I didn’t care for Madeleine’s character for the majority of the book, I still appreciated her growth from the beginning to the end of the book.

Some of the elements in the story were a little cliché and too many things were tied up too nicely, but overall this was a solid read.  If you like lighter historical fiction that has a dual perspective/storyline where the more current story feels more along the lines of “women’s fiction,” then this book might be your cup of tea.




5-Star Rating System

*Big thanks to G.P. Putnam’s Sons for providing me with a copy of this book via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.


About the Author


EleanorBrownEleanor Brown is the New York Times and #1 international bestselling author of The Weird Sisters, The Light of Paris and the editor of the forthcoming anthology, A Paris All Your Own: Bestselling Women Writers on the City of Light.
Her writing has been hailed by People magazine as “delightful” and “creative and original” by Library Journal.
Eleanor teaches writing workshops at Lighthouse Writers Workshop in Denver, CO, as well as writing conferences and centers nationwide.
An avid CrossFit participant, Eleanor is the author of WOD Motivation and a contributor to CrossFit Journal.
Born and raised in the Washington, D.C. area, Eleanor lives with her family in Colorado.


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LetsChatHave you read The Light of Paris?  If so, what did you think?


12 thoughts on “Book Review: The Light of Paris by Eleanor Brown”

  1. An overbearing, criticizing mother. That sounds like Beatrice Horseman from the Netflix show BoJack Horseman. At first, I was worried that she was just going to by a critical jerk because that was her character, but then in season 4 they really explored how she became this awful woman. And I’m glad, or I would have grown bored with her one-dimensional shtick. It sounds like the woman in this book is just letting herself be bullied by her mother, but we also don’t know much about her mother.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Fab review! Dual storylines are always tricky I guess… I normally tend to prefer one in such a way that the other just makes me enjoy the story less. I certainly wouldn’t have expected such a light read, but like you said, I think this would work well as a beach read or on vacation in general.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Well written review as always, Amanda. It seems like you’ve found quite a few dual-perspective-on-different-timelines historical fiction over the past year. Am I crazy thinking that? This is a challenging technique to pull off! I am not surprised you preferred one timeline over another. I’m reading The Japanese Lover and it has something similar. I haven’t decided if I prefer one timeline over another, however.

    Do the chapters alternate so we learn about Margie and Madeline’s characters in parallel? If so, do you find these parallels useful?


    1. You’ve been paying attention Jackie! Yes, there has been a lot of dual perspective/dual timeline historical fiction. I feel like that been the trend in the HF genre for the past few years? Sometimes it works, but I feel it doesn’t work more than it works. I just can’t help but feel like many of the dual perspective/dual timeline stories would have been better to just have had the one perspective.

      Yes, the chapters were alternating so we were learning about both women at the same time. I think the author was trying to show the readers the parallels of the journey towards self discovery that both women were going through. I see why the author wrote the book this way, she wanted us to see how Madeleine drew strength from learning about her grandmother’s own journey…

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I agree with you– it takes a very strong writer to pull off a dual timeline story with different characters. It either comes across as one character is much stronger than the other or both characters sound so similar it’s hard to tell the difference. Which is disappointing! The idea of crossing timelines is always so intriguing. I think that’s why I loved Homegoing so much! The changing timelines and settings is incredibly compelling and each character stands out with their own voice. But, those are almost like short stories. Do they count? 😉

        That’s intriguing! I like you noted how the parallels are intended to show Madeline’s growth. I don’t think you’re too cold for disliking Madeline, but this shows that the parallels didn’t work as strongly as perhaps intended. If you are able to see how Madeline gathers strength from her grandmother’s past, but unable to like her (despite appreciating her growth), it feels to me like something missed the mark.


  4. That’s a shame and one of the risks of dual perspectives I suppose – it’s easy to favour one character over the other which ultimately just means you’re disappointed every time the perspective changes.
    Lynn 😀


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