Review: The Paris Winter

Paris Winter

  • Author: Imogen Robertson
  • ISBN: 9781250051837
  • Genre: Historical Fiction
  • Pages: 360

The above ISBN is for the hardcover edition, but I listened to the audiobook I purchased.

Maud Heighton came to Lafond’s famous Academie to paint, and to flee the constraints of her small English town. It took all her courage to escape, but Paris eats money. While her fellow students enjoy the dazzling joys of the Belle Époque, Maud slips into poverty. Quietly starving, and dreading another cold Paris winter, Maud takes a job as companion to young, beautiful Sylvie Morel. But Sylvie has a secret: an addiction to opium. As Maud is drawn into the Morels’ world of elegant luxury, their secrets become hers. Before the New Year arrives, a greater deception will plunge her into the darkness that waits beneath this glittering city of light. – Goodreads synopsis

I’m glad I listened to the audiobook instead of reading the book.  Otherwise, I probably wouldn’t have finished it.  I would have quit reading after fifty pages.  While the story was good, the first half of the book was like watching a turtle.  For that reason, I had difficulty paying attention to the story, and I probably missed a few details as it unfolded.

Once things picked up a bit, I enjoyed it, but because the first half was so dull, I wasn’t very invested in the main character, Maud.  If there were any book to compare this one to, it would be Villette by Charlotte Brontë, at least in style.  However, Villette was better, and I cared more about Lucy than I did Maud, despite Maud’s involvement in a more interesting plot (at least in the second half).

If the plot hadn’t taken so long to build, I would probably give The Paris Winter four stars.  However, because the first half was on the edge of completely boring, I can only give it three.  If you loved Villette, or you enjoy a modern take on the classic Gothic novel, I would recommend borrowing this one instead of buying.  If you insist on purchasing a copy, you might want to go with the audiobook, but regardless of the edition, just know that the story plods along for well over a hundred pages before it gets anywhere interesting.