The Paris Winter: Book summary and reviews of The Paris Winter by Imogen Robertson

The Paris Winter

by Imogen Robertson

The Paris Winter
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  • Published in USA  Jan 2016
    368 pages
    Genre: Historical Fiction

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About this book

Book Summary

Set against the backdrop of the Great Flood, The Paris Winter is a dark and powerful tale of deceit and revenge from a masterful storyteller.

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, she quickly realizes, is no place for a light purse. While her fellow students enjoy the dazzling decadence of the Belle Epoque, Maud slips into poverty. Quietly starving, and dreading another cold Paris winter, Maud is hired by Christian Morel as companion to his beautiful, young sister, Sylvie. But Sylvie, Maud discovers, is not quite the darling she seems. She has a secret addiction to opium and an ominous air of intrigue.

As Maud is drawn further into the Morels' world of elegant luxury, their secrets become hers. And before the New Year arrives, a greater deception will plunge her into the darkness that waits beneath this glittering city of light.

Hardcover & ebook: Nov 2014. Paperback: Jan 2016.

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You can see the full discussion here. This discussion will contain spoilers!

Some of the recent comments posted about The Paris Winter:

Did anyone else think the book had a slow start?
Yes, it was horribly slow. I almost gave up on it as I too have a "100-page rule". This one barely made it. But once it got started it never slowed down. So I thought was worth it. - bettyt

Do you feel women are facing the same problems as Maud, Tanya and Yvette today?
I don't think women are facing all of the same problems today that Maud, Tanya and Yvette faced in the book. While obviously things have improved for women in the last 100 years there are still issues women face in society and in the workplace that ... - jodig

Do you think Maud's work as an artist affects the way she sees the world?
For sure! I found myself wishing that there could have been paintings dispersed throughout the book instead of just descriptions - I think that would have added a lot to the overall story! And I would have loved to see illustrations and how they ... - amberb

Do you think Morel's and Sylvie's punishments fit their crimes?
Morel and Sylvie deserved to be caught. I didn't like that the Countess was going to wait until they got to America to ruin them. Morel killed two people, he deserved to be punished. I was surprised later when the murders haunted him. That made me ... - Navy Mom

Do you think the person Maud ultimately evolves into is a better person than she was? How so or how not?
She originally seemed a victim of circumstances and rather naive at that. I wasn't sure I liked the bitter, revengeful person she turned into. However, I can't blame her after the way she'd been taken advantage of. She seemed to find happiness and ... - Marcia S

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Reviews

Media Reviews

"Starred Review. For readers of historical fiction looking for a complex story, this is a sure bet and most likely the next big hit of any book discussion group." - Library Journal

"Starred Review. With a twisty, well-crafted plot, this novel is rich in historical detail and robust with personality." - Kirkus

"Robertson fans will miss her customary strong lead and supporting characters with depth" - Publishers Weekly

"...Robertson's subtle and nuanced grasp of character, notably of the vulnerable Maud: a heroine almost worthy of Thomas Hardy...It is this characterisation – as much as the narrative – that lifts The Paris Winter into a category of its own." - Barry Forshaw, The Independent (UK)

"I must have breathed while reading The Paris Winter, but I could not say when. Robertson's dark tale in the City of Light will haunt the reader long after closing its pages." - Erika Robuck, bestselling author of Hemingway's Girl

"Rich as a ripened red wine, The Paris Winter intoxicates and satisfies the reader's darkest desires to be mysteriously entranced." - Sarah McCoy, author of the international bestseller The Baker's Daughter

"Imogen Robertson has written an enthralling novel. With its beguiling characters, deliciously twisted storyline, and setting in a city that is sometimes seductively glamorous, sometimes shivery with menace, The Paris Winter is an absolute treat for lovers of historical fiction." - Margaret Leroy, author of The Soldier's Wife

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Reader Reviews

Write your own review

Samantha H. (Golden, CO)

Pulls you right in
The Paris Winter by Imogen Robertson is an engaging, well written novel. It gives you a window into the art world as it existed for women painters during the age of Impressionism as you follow the lives of three unlikely friends. Well developed characters help pull you in to this fascinating story about struggle, friendship and revenge.

Marie D. (Waretown, NJ)

The Paris Winter - a captivating tale of art, love, friendship, struggle and evil
Author, Imogen Robertson, skillfully tells the story of a young English woman who travels to Paris, with very little money, to study art in an era when women artists were often viewed as less than respectable! The difficulties encountered by the determined art student, Maud Heighton, are painted vividly in words, and, in an unique and effective way, the author opens chapters with descriptions of museum paintings which set up the scenes visually.

While Paris is renowned as the City of Lights -- and love -- The Paris Winter takes the reader to its underbelly, literally! The horrific Paris floodwaters of 1910 rise up from beneath the city in terrifying ways at a time when dangerous weather warnings for citizens were virtually
non-existent. Word of mouth and rumors prevailed, adding to the panic in the streets.

Mysteries are solved and the denouement of the murderous and wealthy "gentleman" (no spoiler here) and his evil cohort are skillfully told. A page turner for sure!

Dorothy G. (Naperville, IL)

Beautifully painted tale
The Paris Winter took me in instantly. The characters were described and painted with words in ways that made them come alive. The story is unpredictable and engrossing from start to finish. I think I enjoyed seeing the female friendships develop throughout the novel and was inspired by what women bear and what women achieve. The descriptions of Paris made me feel that I knew it well and allowed me to picture many of the scenes in my mind. I truly felt that the words painted those scenes and made the book come alive for me.
I would definitely recommend The Paris Winter and appreciated the chance to be one of the first to read it. Definitely one of my favorite books. Thank you.

Jacquelyn H. (Blanco, TX)

HISTORICAL FICTION AT ITS BEST
THE PARIS WINTER by Imogen Robertson is a most interesting story with captivating characters and writing filled with vivid description. I felt I was on a trip to early 20th century Paris! The book opens November of 1909 in Pigalle, Paris with the suicide of art student Rose Champion. When the news arrived at the women's art studio, an excellent portrayal of reactions of the reactions of the students catches the reader's attention immediately.

The early chapters filled with thoughts of the students involved with Rose provided active description of character and brought immediate emersion into the story, life style, and action.

The reader should expect plot twists, mystery, and surprise along with well drawn characters involved in a great story of historical fiction.

Janet P. (Spokane, WA)

Art, sociology, history combine in a turn of the century mystery
This was one of those books I couldn't put down, except to hit my computer to help me discover what life was really like in Paris of 1909-1910. What I found in my research was that I was receiving a colorful, accurate description of Paris during that winter of those years from the author Imogen Robertson. The heroines (and I believe there are three, Maud, Tanya and Sylvie) are believable and extremely likable. Friendships form at a realistic pace. Relationships come and go as trust builds and then sometimes wanes through the characters believable experiences with one another and their environment. The real mystery doesn't begin until close to half-way through the book, but by that point the reader is engrossed in the life of the city, of the rich, of the poor and of the woman trying to make a mark, on their own, in the art community of 1909. The author uses descriptions of paintings (written in "museum sounding" terms and said to be from the de Civray Collection, Southwark Picture Gallery, London, 2010) as a transition from one chapter to the next. My assumed meaning of these paintings changes in a fascinating surprise when revealed. The collection is fictional (it sounded so real I was "forced" to leave my reading to check this out on Google also) but the paintings became very real in my mind. An attempted murder, these paintings existing in the future, a woman seeking revenge and a truly sociopathic couple create a second half of the book so gripping that I found myself carrying the book into the kitchen to read while I prepared dinner. I couldn't put it down! And the ending didn't disappoint. Every unbelievable strand became believable as characters' backgrounds and idiosyncrasies were revealed. There were a couple of times I might have moaned a little at the innocence of Maud, but in reality, she probably very accurately depicted a well bred young English woman of her period in history. Great job Ms. Robertson

Carole P. (Framingham, MA)

Paris Winter
Paris Winter focuses on a group of women artists in 1909 Paris. It was a very difficult life chosen by women driven by their passion for art. Although several artists and models make up this tale, the heroine is Maud. A young , well-bred English girl who only wants to live in the world of art. The story begins telling us her journey into this life. However, what makes this book so good, is where she goes and what happens after she is studying in Paris. I do not do spoilers. Let's just say that she is involved in intrigue and terror before she realizes what is happening. Although the art is a main part of the tale, it is the mysterious goings-on that make this a suspenseful read. Before I knew it, I couldn't put this down. Nor did I want to.
This would be a great book group read.

...43 more reader reviews

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Author Information

Imogen Robertson Author Biography

Imogen Robertson directed for TV, film, and radio before becoming a full-time author. She also writes and reviews poetry. Imogen is the author of several novels, including the Crowther and Westerman series. She was shortlisted for the CWA Ellis Peters Historical Award 2011 and for the CWA Dagger in the Library Award 2012. The Paris Winter was partially inspired by Imogen's paternal grandmother, a free-spirited traveler who set off through Europe with money sewn into her skirts.

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