Thursday, November 12, 2020

Blog Tour: From A Paris Balcony by Ella Carey

When we first meet Sarah West it is 2015 and she has lost both of her parents and her marriage over the previous year, leaving her devastated and emotionally brittle. She find a green box at the bottom of her father's wardrobe, which contains just one object - a letter written by famous courtesan Marthe de Florian. In it, Marthe is writing to Henry Duval, advising him to flee Paris following the untimely death of his wife, Louisa West. It has long been said that Louisa had committed suicide by leaping from a balcony in Paris in the midst of a party. When Sarah reads the letter it is clear that there is more to the story, so she decides to travel to Paris to find out what really happened.

Several years before, Marthe's Parisian apartment was opened (which forms part of the story in the first book of this loosely connected trilogy) and is now occasionally available to rent. Sarah decides that she wants to stay in the apartment in the hope that she might find some more clues. The only problem is, the apartment already has a tenant, so if she is going to stay there, she will have to share the space with French artist Laurent. Sarah decides that her need to search for clues is more important than any uncomfortableness relating to sharing the apartment with a complete stranger, especially someone who has a reputation for being a bit temperamental.

In the past story of the dual storyline, Louisa is a young American woman who is sent to England in the 1890s. She seemingly lives the dream in that she catches the eye of the aristocratic heir to an earldom, Henry Duval, and ends up marrying him. But for Louisa, this is not quite a fairytale. 

Louisa is a modern, opinionated woman who is taking a keen interest in the fledgling suffragette movement, and believes that she can use her new position to support the movement, but this will be frowned upon by the whole family, with the exception of her husband's younger brother Charlie.

As for Henry, he wants to spend all of his time partying hard in Paris, where he consorts with actresses, prostitutes, and courtesans, and he wants his wife to stay away, away from his world.

Sarah's search for clues takes her to the Duval family estate, Ashworth, where Sarah hopes to find the final clues in Louisa's story, and in her own as well. I did have to read the final explanations a little confusing so I had to read it a couple of times until I got it. Not sure if that was just me or not though.

It was interesting to see how three worlds converge in Louisa's life. She marries into the very structured, aristocratic world where there are rules for every situation, especially if you are a woman. There is the world of the suffragettes, where Louisa and others like Emmeline Pankhurst are fighting for the right of every woman to be able to make their own choices in life, and then there is the Paris world that her husband loves so much, where yes, a woman can, if she's lucky and successful, make a lot of herself, but in the case of the courtesan it is often at the behest of the men that provide the jewels, apartments, favours that fund the lifestyle.

I have enjoyed my time reading this trilogy.

This read counts for both the Australian Women Writers Challenge and the Historical Fiction Reading Challenge.

Thanks to the publisher, Bookouture, for the review copy via Netgalley

Book Description:

The small green chest was concealed at the back of her father’s wardrobe. Its hinges were made of brass that must once have shone, but now the surface was roughened and dull. As she opened the lock, there was only one thing inside: a letter, postmarked 1895, Paris.

England, 1895. Louisa West, a young beauty from Boston, looks like she has it all: a handsome husband, she is lady of Ashworth Manor and one day she’ll be a duchess. But in truth, her life is falling apart. Louisa’s honeymoon is barely over when her husband deserts her, leaving her devastated and alone. She flees to Paris, longing to escape her grief, but finds only tragedy…

Boston, 2015. Life hasn’t been kind to Sarah West. In one year, she has lost both her parents and her marriage. After her father’s death, Sarah is sorting through his belongings when she finds a letter about her mysterious ancestor, Louisa. There have always been whispers in the family about Louisa’s suicide—from a high balcony in Paris—but as Sarah reads, she starts to question everything she was told. Desperate to leave her broken heart behind, she books a trip to Paris to find out more…

When Sarah arrives in the city of lights, the cobbled streets of Montmartre and the river Seine at twilight make her heart sing. Then, on the bookshelf of a beautiful Paris apartment, hidden inside the yellowing pages of an old novel, she finds a note about Louisa which shatters Sarah’s understanding of her family’s past. Did Louisa really throw herself from a Paris balcony? And when Sarah uncovers the truth, will it change everything about her future?

An utterly captivating and emotional historical novel from bestselling author Ella Carey that will transport you to Paris at its most glamorous. From a Paris Balcony will have fans of Rhys Bowen, Fiona Valpy and My Name is Eva totally gripped!

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. I enjoyed Paris Time Capsule and need to dive more into Carey's books. This sounds like a good one too! I really like dual time line historical fiction. And the Paris setting doesn't hurt. I am glad you enjoyed this one!

  2. Wow Marg, I really enjoyed your writing about the book- you had me glued. Sounds like a good book and I enjoy historical fictions as well. It's on my list .. thanks

  3. I enjoy historical novels and those that have dual narratives. This sounds like a good one and of course who doesn't love a Paris setting!

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