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.
I’ve been reading a lot of French based WWII novels lately. I’ve been pleasantly surprised that none of them resembled each other.
The Alice Network: dark, intense, and sensual
The Room on Rue Amelie: light, romantic, heart-wrenching
The Velvet Hours was definitely a different WWII novel. The book is actually based on the real discovery of an abandoned apartment in Paris. The apartment was locked just before the Nazi invasion, and never opened again. The apartment was continuously paid for, and upon the death of the owner, the room was opened. So many treasures filled the apartment, as well as a rare Boldini portrait. You can see the photos of the apartment here. And knowing that this fictional story was based on the real life of a real person makes it even more interesting.
The plot itself was good, I kept listening and wasn’t too bored. But the relationship between the characters lacked genuineness. Solange and her boyfriend just didn’t quite do it for me. I know the plot is focused around Marthe’s life and the impending arrival of Germans, but I still felt their love should have been more expressed?
The relationship between Marthe and Solange was practically not there. I feel that they were simply interviewer and interviewee with Marthe sharing her story. For a story that is partially based on the reconnection of the two women, it fell a bit short.
But as I mentioned before, the plot was good and with the inspiration behind it made it more interesting.
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