Another debut novel which is epic.
A bit on the dark side with hidden elements which spring out at you. You are more taken aback than surprised as its totally unexpected. I think more than enough quirks to interest every kind of reader.
Maud Heighton has come to Paris to learn to paint. She is passionate about her art but she is the proverbial poor artist. With a small annuity she has to struggle and struggle she does. Very focussed on what she wants she is however constantly struggling with her poverty. We have Tanya the rich Russian girl with wealth behind her is also dabbling in art. For Tanya art is interesting but it is not her chief focus. Tanya has never known grinding poverty, hunger and being beautiful has also been the darling of everyone especially her family.
We have Morel and his sister Sylvie - enigmatic characters. Morel devout brother to Sylvie and when he offers the position of companion to Maud he does confide in her that his sister is an opium addict who is trying to wean herself away from this addiction. The Morels world is one of quiet luxury, not opulent but dignified.
The story is descriptive - you can visualise the artists and the models, the gallery where the actual lessons take place. When the scene moves on to less salubrious Paris it is equally well described. From the luxury of rich Paris to the slums this author has done a fantastic job of drawing the reader in and keeping them engrossed with the book. The vast gap in socio economic terms of Parisians itself was something which caught my interest and how the two groups co-exist with one trying to get as much as possible from their more wealthy and affluent compatriots.
The floods of 1910 are an integral part of the story. The characters are all very engaging and you want to egg Maud on from the very first knowing that it is her basic innocence that is going to be her downfall.
There is a love story, a crime story, mystery, smuggling and murder. The fact that the author can pull all those disparate stories into one comprehensive and complete whole is her cleverness. In most other stories the detail may have been too much, almost superfluous. Not in this one. This is one author one should not miss.
My stock of reading is right now wonderful with Carnegie library giving me more than enough to devour!!! Thanks Carnegie.