To Capture What We Cannot Keep
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Set against the construction of the Eiffel Tower, this novel charts the relationship between a young Scottish widow and a French engineer who, despite constraints of class and wealth, fall in love.
In February 1887, Caitriona Wallace and Émile Nouguier meet in a hot air balloon, floating high above Paris, France--a moment of pure possibility. But back on firm ground, their vastly different social strata become clear. Cait is a widow who because of her precarious financial situation is forced to chaperone two wealthy Scottish charges. Émile is expected to take on the bourgeois stability of his family's business and choose a suitable wife. As the Eiffel Tower rises, a marvel of steel and air and light, the subject of extreme controversy and a symbol of the future, Cait and Émile must decide what their love is worth.
Seamlessly weaving historical detail and vivid invention, Beatrice Colin evokes the revolutionary time in which Cait and Émile live--one of corsets and secret trysts, duels and Bohemian independence, strict tradition and Impressionist experimentation. To Capture What We Cannot Keep, stylish, provocative, and shimmering, raises probing questions about a woman's place in that world, the overarching reach of class distinctions, and the sacrifices love requires of us all.
a wonderful read to savor.
Set in the Paris of 1887, the city and its very unique feel are omnipresent as written by Beatrice Colin. The city is full of changes, music, artists, new thoughts and a curious new construction certain to be the new highlight of a city with so many, the Eiffel Tower.
Caitriona is a young-ish newly widowed Scottish woman, hired as a chaperone for Jaime and Alice, two wealthy young siblings set to see the sights and land Alice a husband. Cait has been entrusted with their safety and success of the journey, but Paris and the effects will change their lives in ways unknown.
Emile is working with Eiffel on the tower’s construction: a young man chafing against the family expectations and wants to find a new life. When he and Cait meet in a thrilling hot air balloon tour, the two find instant camaraderie. But their lives and positions are vastly different, and possibilities soon give way to all of the obstacles that should keep them apart.
This is not a quickly paced story, the scenes are set and build, one upon another to present a picture full of detail and atmosphere. The fictionalized story of Cait and Emile proceeds just as slowly, with carefully inset moments that reveal their personalities and dreams, as well as their connection without overtly developing either character in ways the reader can see. The story brings forward all of the challenges of their lives: the changes in knowledge, a readjustment of social norms, struggles for power and wealth all set against the backdrop of a city and world in flux.
This is not a story to grab when you are craving a more typical historic romance. In fact the story of Paris of the day, and all of the changes in society, including a clever set of twists, mix with the facts and descriptions to set the stage for Emile and Cait. Their relationship is slow to develop and more a soft focus, not quite grasping the emotions of readers to fully believe in their connection, but seeing the potential there. Overall, a wonderful read to savor.
I received an eArc copy of the title from the publisher via NetGalley for purpose of honest review. I was not compensated for this review: all conclusions are my own responsibility.