A dark and opulent tale of deception, betrayal and revenge in Paris, 1909.Maud Heighton came to Lafond’s famous Académie 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.
©2013 Imogen Robertson (P)2013 Headline Digital
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I was not able to finish the book as the pace is too slow, and nothing much happens in the story. About half way through I started to get bored. I did enjoy it at first though; I found the language rich and the setting interesting.
"OK story, but poor reading/production value"
The story is not too bad, straight forward and entertaining enough if you don't expect unforeseeable twists and unusual characterisations. Unfortunately Ms Night's performance did not improve the audiobook in general. The production value also seemed quite low, you can distinctly hear the reader swallow, take deep breaths and smack her lips - something quite natural when reading out loud, but it could have easily been edited out and really put me off.
I probably would have enjoyed the story if I had read the book, but the performance distracted me too much. Halfway through I expected the story to come to an end and was surprised to find the second half on my Ipod.
Unfortunately, no. Her range of characters is not as wide as the readers I am used to, there was hardly any distinction between some of the characters, not even between male and female, and I was sometimes struggling to follow who was talking.
"What a pity about the narration..."
I really enjoyed this story. Intriguing plot and characters and very evocative of the upside and downside of fin de siècle Paris. But oh! The errors in the narration were infuriating! Most objectionable of all was the pronunciation of the northeast town of Alnwick as Allenwick, when it is common knowledge that this is pronounced Anick. Surely just a little research would have unearthed that. Also very clumsy French pronunciation too. I think I would have been better reading this one to myself!
"A little gem"
in the top 5, it is a very addictive read, different, rich with imagery and tantalizing.
"Another gem from Imogen Robertson"
I have discovered Imogen Robertson's work only this year and I thoroughly love it. Her "Westerman & Crowther" novels are simply brilliant and excellently paced stories with wonderful characters so you should definately check them out.
This is her only stand alone novel - it is a dark thriller about a middle class English woman Maud Heighton and her struggle to become an artist in 1909 Paris. The plot is alluring and makes you want to carry on reading and the characters are excellent you I was always re-assessing them.
What I love most about this book is the descriptions of the floods of Paris in Jan 1910 and how she weaves this into the characters motivations and feelings at this point in the story. Its a storytelling masterclass and I loved it!!!
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