“They established themselves on the floor of Sylvie’s room, Maud pinning her oil sketching paper to a deal board to support it then choosing her tints, squeezing each onto the palette in abstemious amounts, attaching the little tin cup with its reservoir of linseed oil to its edge, setting out her hog-hair and sable brushes. As she did so, Sylvie prepared her [opium] tray with a similar satisfaction, and Maud was aware that the ritual was important to them both. Then each settled to their addiction.” Imogen Robertson, THE PARIS WINTER

Publisher Description:

A deep, dark and opulent tale of Belle Epoque Paris, and the secrets and dangers hidden beneath its luxurious facade.

Maud Heighton came to Lafond’s famous Academie to paint, and to flee the constraints of her small English town. It took all her courage to escape, but Paris eats money. While her fellow students enjoy the dazzling joys of the Belle Epoque, Maud slips into poverty.

Quietly starving, and dreading another cold Paris winter, Maud takes a job as companion to young, beautiful Sylvie Morel. But Sylvie has a secret: an addiction to opium. As Maud is drawn into the Morels’ world of elegant luxury, their secrets become hers. Before the New Year arrives, a greater deception will plunge her into the darkness that waits beneath this glittering city of light.

My Recommendation

This is a breathtaking novel, or rather, breath stealing.

From the quiet dignity of the art school, to the hazy chambers of the rich and careless in 1909 Paris, Robertson draws the reader in with her Poe-like tale. Shocking and dark, meticulously crafted, and complex, THE PARIS WINTER, succeeds in creating a world of layered characters in a sensuous and often dangerous dance with one another, that pushes its cast to the brink of madness and back.

Interspersed throughout the text are descriptions of art from a contemporary catalogue, foreshadowing the central moments of each section with brilliant precision, and slowly instructing the reader how to view each scene as if taking in a painting, making careful use of lighting, placement, and focus.

If you enjoy chilling tales of mystery and revenge in fascinating historical settings, you will love THE PARIS WINTER. Though it is surely not for the faint of heart, I give this book my highest recommendation.


2 thoughts on “Book Review: THE PARIS WINTER

  1. dremadrudge says:

    Thanks for this review — I write about art, too, and have written about art in Paris during this time period, so I look forward to reading this book.

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