I love historical fiction so I loved this book which was inspired by a true story. The story set in France goes back and forth between Solange, a young beautiful woman in 1938-1939 (beginning of WWII) a writer who is bored with her life and directionless after her mother’s death and Marthe de Florian, Solange’s grandmother who is a reclusive courtesan during 1888-1898. Marthe gave her son (Solage’s father) to a friend to raise and did not know of her existence until a letter on his 18th birthday and still did not have much interaction with him through his adult life. Solage’s father, Henri, introduces Solage to Marthe to ease her boredom and inspire her to write a book. Marthe’s apartment is filled with treasures and a portrait of herself and throughout the story, she tells Solage of how she fell in love and collected these treasures and survived during WWI. Solage also starts investigating her mother’s past since her mother’s family disowned her after her marriage to Solage’s father.
I loved the story not only for the historical aspect but for how it built the relationship between Solage and Marthe. The courtesan part of the story was tastefully and modestly done. It seemed like a mystery novel at times since Solage was finding out about her grandmother’s past and her mother’s past. It was also a love story– between Marthe and her Charles and Solage’s first love. It is about strength and survival and what really matters most in life. Definitely one of the best books I read this year.
I rated a book 5 out of 5 stars on Goodreads.
I received an advanced copy of this book from Penguin’s First to Read Program with no requirement to review book.