Saturday, October 1, 2016

*Review* The Velvet Hours by Alyson Richman

Genre: Historical Fiction
Published: September 6, 2016
Pages: 384


As Paris teeters on the edge of the German occupation, a young French woman closes the door to her late grandmother’s treasure-filled apartment, unsure if she’ll ever return. 

An elusive courtesan, Marthe de Florian cultivated a life of art and beauty, casting out all recollections of her impoverished childhood in the dark alleys of Montmartre. With Europe on the brink of war, she shares her story with her granddaughter Solange Beaugiron, using her prized possessions to reveal her innermost secrets. Most striking of all are a beautiful string of pearls and a magnificent portrait of Marthe painted by the Italian artist Giovanni Boldini. As Marthe’s tale unfolds, like velvet itself, stitched with its own shadow and light, it helps to guide Solange on her own path. 

Inspired by the true account of an abandoned Parisian apartment, Alyson Richman brings to life Solange, the young woman forced to leave her fabled grandmother’s legacy behind to save all that she loved.


I received a copy of this book through Penguin's First to Read program in exchange for an honest review.

I'm finding myself at a loss for words with this book. The things I want to talk about, I can't because spoilers, and the things I can talk about are all jumbled up in my head in an incoherent tangle.

The Velvet Hours weaves together the tales of Solange and her paternal grandmother, Marthe, whom she didn't meet until she was 17 or 18. Solange dreams of being an author, and Marthe lived a very colorful life. The book switches between characters so that while Marthe is telling her story, it seems as if we're living it with her. It is very easy to tell the difference between the two characters POV's, even if you've forgotten who you were following for a moment.

There were times while Marthe was telling her story where I found myself on edge, worrying about what would happen to her (which is ridiculous because she was telling her story, so clearly things turned out alright.) I was just so caught up in the moment that it was easy to forget that those events had happened in the past.

There were also a couple times where this book made my eyes leak a strange, salty moisture, so you may want to have some tissues handy.

Overall I give The Velvet Hours 4 out of 5 stars. - Katie 

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About the Author

Alyson Richman is the #1 internationally bestselling author of the The Garden of Letters, The Lost Wife, The Last Van Gogh, The Rhythm of Memory (previously published as Swedish Tango) and The Mask Carver's Son. Her novels have been translated into eighteen languages and "The Lost Wife" is in development to be a major motion picture. "The Velvet Hours" which centers around the French courtesan Marthe de Florian and the mystery surrounding her shuttered Paris apartment will be published September 2016.

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