Moonlight over Paris

After recovering from a broken engagement and a near-fatal illness, Lady Helena Montagu-Douglas-Parr is aching for a fresh start. It's 1924, and while Europe is still reeling from the aftereffects of World War I, Helena is weary of London society and intrigued by the burgeoning art scene in Paris. Jennifer Robson's third novel, Moonlight over Paris, chronicles Helena's year of personal and professional discovery in the City of Light.

Under the benign guidance of her aunt Agnes, widow of a Russian count and a well-connected socialite, Helena begins to come out of her shell. When she enrolls in an art course under the irascible Maitre Czerny, she enjoys both stimulating (albeit often painful) artistic instruction and a few fellow students who encourage her in her work. Adding to the intrigue is Sam Howard, an enigmatic American journalist who shares Helena's fierce determination to build a new life in Paris, away from familial expectations.

Robson (After the War Is Over) sprinkles her narrative with cameos by Lost Generation luminaries: Gertrude Stein, Sara and Gerald Murphy, the Fitzgeralds, the Hemingways. (Helena's fictional artist friends, however, are rendered more vividly on the page.) Though Helena often retreats into her natural timidity, she gradually begins to blossom, navigating the city on her own and daring to explore new territory in her art. Robson's plot contains few surprises, but Helena's journey will charm readers who enjoy stories of artistic ambition, self-discovery and la belle France. --Katie Noah Gibson, blogger at Cakes, Tea and Dreams

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