Sunday, June 18, 2017

*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.


This was a book club choice, so I probably would never have noticed it on my own. It’s not something that’s in my general interest, although I’ve been trying to become more open minded with the books that I read.

I found this story to be fascinating. I love how the author took a real life event and, after a couple years of research on the subject, wrote a believable story about it. This is a real life fanfiction, and that is glorious.

Although I didn’t expect to much care for this story, I am pleased to say I was a fool. I really enjoyed it. I really need to give historical fiction more of a shot.

This book tells the story of two women, Solange and her grandmother, Marthe. Two incredibly different people that are connected only by blood. But both of their stories were equally compelling.

The author painted a wonderful picture of Paris from two different generations, and that was fabulous. My favorite part of reading this is how I was introduced to the life of a demimondaine with Marthe. Because of that I have become more open minded about that time and type of relationships. And it is fascinating.

With Solange, it’s the beginning of German occupation in France during WWII. And her mother was Jewish, so she’s having to navigate that as well as her affections for a Jewish man. All while trying to stay safe and find a better life for herself. And there are all sorts of feels in her parts. And some are kind of cliche, but that’s okay. Because they fit perfectly and was absolutely necessary.

⅘ Platypires - Joood - Hooligan

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About the Author

Alyson Richman is the international bestselling author of The Garden of LettersThe Lost WifeThe Last Van GoghThe Rhythm of Memory, and The Mask Carver’s Son. She lives in Long Island, New York, with her husband and two children.

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