Moonlight over Paris

Written by Jennifer Robson
Review by Arleigh Johnson

After narrowly escaping a serious illness, Lady Helena Montagu-Douglas-Parr sets off to Paris, determined to live a fuller, more meaningful life. For the past five years she’d been shunned in London society because she was jilted by Lord Cumberland, the subject of the author’s previous novel, After the War is Over. Helena, far from heartbroken, enrolls in an exclusive art school and arrives in the City of Lights ready for a fresh start among people who do not know her family connections or background.

Helena lives with her eccentric aunt, who introduces her to the popular literary set – names such as Hemingway and Fitzgerald numbered among them. She forms a close bond with three particular friends from art class: Etienne, Daisy and Mathilde. Sam, who is an American journalist for the Chicago Tribune, joins their group with a special interest in Helena. As she prepares for an upcoming art show – the outcome of which will make or break her career prospects – Helena must finally come to terms with the person she has become during her year away, and determine what she really wants from life.

For those who’ve read the author’s first two novels, Somewhere in France and After the War is Over, Helena will be a familiar name, though previously unexplored as a character – finding all at once the same atmosphere, but with a different perspective. Though the story is enjoyable, there is no discernible conflict until after the halfway point, from which it moves quickly to a satisfying ending. Those who enjoy reads that do not stray from the conventions of their time, in particular in regards to class and etiquette, will be pleased with all of Robson’s early 20th-century novels.