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.
Paperback, 384 pages
Published September 6th 2016 by Berkley
Audio via Audible (personal library)
11 hours 27 minutes
Book people are here for a short time but books are eternal.
The Velvet Hours was an audio book for me and while I usually find dual times tricky to do in audio format this one worked. Two distinct voices were used for each of the main character which enhanced the experience. Kate Reading and Tavia Gilbert were the readers, both are favorites of mine and they did a great job bringing this story to life.
The discovery of the abandoned apartment in Paris has led to many novels being written about Madame de Florian. While we may never know exactly what happened it is fun to speculate and the author does a great job in that area here. Marthe de Florian is a young woman during the late 1800's and it is her apartment that is abandoned during the onset of World War II. Solange is her granddaughter and the second voice to this story. This is a new revelation to Solange and she doesn't waste time getting to know her grandmother. There is more to the story then their new relationship and as Solange struggles with uncertainty during the birth pains of WWII in Paris she is forced to make decisions that ultimately lead to this abandoned apartment.
While this story goes back-and-forth in time the author does a great job with the historical details of both time periods. The Velvet Hours is a well executed and entertaining story of love, secrecy and intrigue.
This is my first time reading anything by Alyson Richman and her writing prose is elegant and captivating. Definitely an author that I will recommend and read more of.
My copy was purchased via Audible as part of my personal library