Wednesday, October 07, 2020

Blog Tour: Paris Time Capsule by Ella Carey

It's not every day that you receive a mystery package from Paris,. When that is followed up by a phone conversation with a lawyer summoning you to Paris to claim a mysterious inheritance it's even more unusual, but that's what happens to Cat Jordan. Cat is a photographer living and working in New York City and life is good. She has a pretty good job, a successful businessman boyfriend, Christian, and an obsession with vintage clothes! When Cat drops everything to go to Paris, Christian isn't necessarily best pleased, but surely it will only take a couple of days to sort out a small inheritance.

It turns out that the inheritance is from a woman that Cat has never heard of, Isabelle de Florian, who was apparently friends with Cat's grandmother and it is not small. Cat is shocked to find out that her benefactor has left her an apartment in Paris that has been left untouched for more than 50 years, filled with a dust covered furniture, a glamourous portrait, personal items, books and more, mostly from the 1890's, during the famous Belle Epoque period. It doesn't make any sense.

It makes even less sense when Cat finds out that the woman who has left her the apartment has a surviving daughter and grandchildren. One of those grandchildren, Loic, is equally determined to find why his grandmother, who has lived a very frugal life, would not ever mention that she owned such wealth, and then wouldn't leave it to her own family instead of this American stranger, who doesn't want to accept an inheritance that should, by rights, be theirs.

Aided by a stash of letters found in the apartment, Cat and Loic join together to try and work through who all the Belle Epoque treasures, including a portrait of a courtesan, belonged to, why the apartment has been left deserted since WWII and how it all ties into Loic's grandmother's story. Paris in the early 1940's is a dangerous place. The Nazis are occupying the city, and for the young women who live int he apartment, there is danger around every corner.

All the while, Christian's patience with Cat's little adventure, grows thin. He needs her in New York, by his side where she belongs.

As Cat and Loic try to figure out these mysteries, Cat is bought face to face with his mother, Sylvie, who can't help but feel betrayed about the secrets that her mother was clearly keeping but is too proud to accept Cat's suggestion that the apartment should be hers. This was one of my favourite relationships in the book. I enjoyed how these two women, both with so many questions, were able to bond despite this strange situation.

The story that slowly unravels tells us who the apartment originally belonged to, why a famous artist painted her portrait, giving us a glimpse into the life of a courtesan during the Belle Epoque. Through the letters, we then learn about the events that led to the apartment being abandoned, what happened to the women who lived there before abandoning it, and how those events connected to Cat's family.

I love dual timeline books and to be honest, I assumed that this would be one, but it was different because it was more like a puzzle where our current characters have to follow the clues from the past to try and figure out what happened them. 

I enjoyed watching Cat come into herself during this book. At the beginning she was a bit too blind to the way that Christian treated her, prepared to settle in her job, rather than really chasing her creative passion. She also took a bit long to really see Loic, but as they travelled from Paris to country France, she also had a chance to contemplate whether the life she had in New York with Christian where she needed to fit in was really the life that she wanted to live.

The idea of finding a flat in Paris that has remained untouched for decades may sound fanciful, but this book was inspired by just such a story. In 2010, the apartment of Madame de Florian, was opened for the first time in decade. Inside there were all sorts of items, including a painting that turned out to be by a famous artist by the name of Giovanni Boldini. You can read more about this fascinating story on Ella Carey's website or by reading this interesting blog post.

This book and the others written by Ella Carey have been on my radar for a long time. I think I first heard of them at at Historical Novel Society Australasia conference back in 2015, around when this book was originally published.  I did purchase another book from this author, I hadn't read it, so this invitation to be on this blog tour was the encouragement that I needed to actually read one. Whilst it has taken 5 years to read my Ella Carey book, it certainly won't take me that long to read more. And that is not only because I will be reading the two connected books over the coming weeks, but that helps!

Thanks to Netgalley for the review copy and Bookouture for inviting me to participate in the tour. Please be sure to visit others on the tour to find out more about this book!

Book Description:

The parcel arrived on an ordinary morning in the mailbox of her New York apartment, postmarked Paris. It was wrapped in brown paper and tied with a silk ribbon. Little did she know that the old brass key and letter it contained were about to turn her life upside down…

1940, Paris. Life is getting desperate for young Isabelle de Florian. Alone with her best friend in her Paris apartment, Isabelle knows that they must seek safety or die. For months she has been playing a dangerous game of secrets with the Nazis, trying to keep the people she loves safe. At last, she secures passage out of the city, packs her best jewels into a small suitcase and steps into the treacherous night…

New York, 2015. Photographer Cat Jordan is shocked when she receives a letter informing her that she is the sole heir of the estate of Isabelle de Florian. She was a friend of Cat’s enigmatic grandmother, who both lived in France until the Nazi occupation forced them to flee. The letter offers few details but is clear on one point: Cat must come to Paris in person.

When she arrives, Cat is enchanted by Isabelle’s beautiful apartment. But why did she leave it to a stranger? Determined to find the truth, Cat investigates her grandmother and Isabelle’s escape from Paris, and discovers that Isabelle was hunted by the Nazis in 1940. But as Cat searches through the dusty letters in the apartment, will the secret she finds change everything she knows about Isabelle and herself?

From bestselling author Ella Carey comes an utterly spellbinding novel about wartime secrets. Paris Time Capsule shows that pulling on the tiniest thread of a life can unravel everything you thought you knew, and change your world forever.

This book was first published in 2015. 

Author Bio:

Ella Carey is the international bestselling author of The Things We Don’t Say, Secret Shores, From a Paris Balcony, The House by the Lake, and Paris Time Capsule. Her books have been published in over fourteen languages, in twelve countries, and have been shortlisted for ARRA awards. A Francophile who has long been fascinated by secret histories set in Europe’s entrancing past, Ella has degrees in music, nineteenth-century women’s fiction, and modern European history. She lives in Melbourne with her two children and two Italian greyhounds who are constantly mistaken for whippets.

Ella loves to connect with her readers regularly through her facebook page and on her website.

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  1. Hi Marg! Love your review, I am opening my Goodreads to ad it as I type here. I should maybe just re-connect my Netgalley account so I can also read these fabulous books before they hit the shelves!

    This sounds awesome and I know I will love it. BUT! I don't like the title... The words just fall wrong. Don't know why. Full-of-crap-me most probably.

    Thanks for sharing this review! Hope you are having a good week.

    Elza Reads

    1. Netgalley is a dangerous slippery slope! I do hope you get to read this and enjoy it!



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