Book review by Arlene.
“Paris In The Rain Is Still Paris”-Catherine Remini McReynolds, November 18, 1923.
The Light Of Paris will give the readers of this wonderful novel a real glimpse of Paris, the streets, the shops, the clubs, the people, the history, the charm, the love and yes, “The Light of Paris.”
Through the eyes and hearts of the two main characters, Margie, the grandmother when she was young and in Paris as sort of companion/chaperone for a friend and Madeline, her granddaughter, who never really knew her grandmother until she visits her mother’s house and discovers her grandmother’s journals she wrote when she was in Paris as a young woman.
Madeline has decided to visit her mother and while there to help her clean out her house to prepare to sell. Madeline is at a sad point in her life. Her marriage is not a happy one, really has never been a marriage of real love, she is struggling to find out who she really is as her husband is constantly criticizing her about everything and anything. She loves to paint, she is tired of playing the role of the perfect wife, hiding who she really is. She needs to get away and uses this trip to her mother’s house as an opportunity to do just that. She needs to feel some semblance of freedom from her life with her husband.
While helping her mother go through things in the house, Madeline discovers, while there,the journals of her grandmother, Margie, and begins to read them and discovers the real person her grandmother was…a writer, a young woman who discovers the jazz age of Paris. Margie finds a place to live, gets a job at a library which turns out to be perfect for her as she is an avid reader and loves to talk about all the books she has read. She meets new people, changes her appearance and falls in love with a man and Paris itself.
Madeline, while staying at her mother’s house, begins to look at her life. She had a demanding mother constantly criticizing her, now she has a husband who demeans her and tries to control every aspect of her life and is suffocating her.
Madeline loves to paint and begins to paint again while she is at her mother’s house. She slowly feels like herself again, free of her husband’s opinions. She realizes her marriage is not the kind of marriage she wanted, she is not living the life she wanted, she had her own dreams. She felt it was so easy for those dreams to get run over by other people’s ideas about what we should do, or to lose our heart when faced with our own struggles of where we are and who we want to be.
Madeline wanted to live deliberately and she wanted to know why her grandmother, after all she had done in Paris , hadn’t done so in her own life.
Her grandmother fell in love and loved Paris, so Madeline needed to know what happened.
Slowly Madeline was beginning to find herself again. While staying at her mother’s house she meets up with old friends, she meets a man who she feels easy to be with, is fun and attractive and she enjoys his company. When she feels like she wants to be close with him he turns her down. She begins to question what she is doing. Was she creating a whole fantasy about staying there? Maybe that was why her grandmother Margie had left the Paris she loved because she knew it had to end?
At some point everyone has to go back to reality.
I felt the writing was exceptional in this book.
These two women, Margie and Madeline came to life for me. I could see them in my mind’s eye and feel their struggles. These two women, though living in different times were left to determine their own lives on their own terms. Were their decisions the right ones?
Great writers bring their readers into the written pages of the books they write. I could not stop turning the pages of this book. I did not find the going back and forth of the chapters between Madeline and Margie to be hard to follow. They were all in sync and followed each story in an easy style that was easy to pick up for both women.
This is a beautifully written story of three generations of women, grandmother, mother, daughter. Did they follow their dreams?
Read this wonderful book! You will find the answers there.