Sunday, January 3, 2021

Review: Paris Time Capsule

Title: Paris Time Capsule
Author:  Ella Carey

Publisher: 6th October 2020 by Bookouture

Pages: 290 pages

How I Read It: ARC book

Genre: historical fiction, women’s fiction, romance

My Rating: 3.5 cups


New York–based photographer Cat Jordan is ready to begin a new life with her successful, button-down boyfriend. But when she learns that she’s inherited the estate of a complete stranger—a woman named Isabelle de Florian—her life is turned upside down.

Cat arrives in Paris to find that she is now the owner of a perfectly preserved Belle Époque apartment in the ninth arrondissement, and that the Frenchwoman’s family knew nothing about this secret estate. Amid these strange developments, Cat is left with burning questions: Who was Isabelle de Florian? And why did she leave the inheritance to Cat instead of her own family?

As Cat travels France in search of answers, she feels her grasp on her New York life starting to slip. With long-buried secrets coming to light and an attraction to Isabelle de Florian’s grandson growing too intense to ignore, Cat will have to decide what to let go of, and what to claim as her own.

My Thoughts

“Don’t you see? So many people exist, so few live. Do you want to look back on a lifetime of regrets?”

I am a fan of Ella Carey’s and although this is one of her earlier novels, I was attracted by the topic that I had read about some time ago. You may recall the story of the opulent Parisian apartment that had not been entered into for over 70 years and was like a time capsule when entered around 2010. The owner had been Marthe de Florian, a French demimondaine and socialite during the Belle Époque period in Paris (1880-1914). Fascinating stuff to base a story on - what might be a story behind this abandoned apartment?

I was enticed by the combination of fact and fiction surrounding this discovery and had looked forward to reading this book for some time. The book, however, mostly delves into the present day issue of ownership and attempting to trace the theoretical history of the apartment. There are a few themes aside from the mystery which is eventually revealed in an all too convenient letter presented towards the end. I would have loved more of a focus on the apartment itself and the history of how it came to be abandoned. Instead, this is more a tale of Cat and her personal journey of growth and discovery in the present day. Not a bad thing in itself but just not what I had been expecting. There is much to enjoy about time spent in Paris with lots of cultural things to partake of. However, at its heart this tale is about Cat’s growth and her romantic partners.  

I will always read Ella’s books but it was clear this was an earlier effort (despite revisions) as having read her latest books it is evident how much Ella had developed as a writer. This is a light and enjoyable read but not a dual time historical narrative as expected. This book falls neatly into contemporary women’s fiction and enjoyable if viewed for those reasons. 

‘Was she yearning for the past? The romance of it all, the beauty, the glamour: these would be enticements indeed if one was fortunate enough to have been born in the upper classes.’

This review is based on a complimentary copy from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. The quoted material may have changed in the final release.

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