One of those literary travel stops will be The Velvet Hours by Alyson Richman,(Sept 6) which is loosely based upon a true story. During the 1930s, a retired courtesan named Mathe de Florian shared an elaborately furnished apartment in Paris with her granddaughter Solange.
As the threat of WWII drew near, Solange has to help close up the apartment(which remained sealed up for several decades) and arrange for safe passage for herself and her grandmother, all the while leaving behind her own dreams and hopes behind. Yet, learning more about Mathe's past made some of the hard choices handed to her easier to bear.
Since the story showcases both Mathe's amazing past and Solange's present day circumstances, it's like getting two books for the price of one. A bit Moulin Rouge with a touch of Casablanca, this intriguing tale promises to display true romance in the best sense of the term:
Another new novel coming out around the same time also highlights a mysterious past connection in Paris. In Juliet Blackwell's Letters From Paris, an American woman, Claire Boussard, honors a last request from her Louisiana grandma as she searches for the story behind a specially made mask.
Claire finds the Parisian shop that originally created the mask and winds up working there as a translator for English speaking clients. As time goes on, she learns more about the young model who may have been the model for the mask, a mysterious woman named Sabine who rose to fame during the 1890s.
That may not be the only link to the past that she has to follow, with Claire also discovering that the family of the current owner of the mask studio,Armand, has had run-ins with her relations over the years as well. With so many signs pointing in a certain direction, is this the fate that Claire is meant to have or to avoid repeating the mistakes of those who went before her?
A good portion of the book reveals Sabine's life and times in the Belle Epoque period, which I think will provide a scrumptious yet solid savory story sauce that will simmer the modern day elements together nicely. Really looking forward to this stylish yet heartfelt tale:
Also, no three course meal would be complete without dessert and this novel sounds like a real sweet treat. Anna Trent is injured during her work as a supervisor at an American chocolate factory but thanks to a chance encounter with Claire, her former French teacher, she gets an opportunity to see Paris.
While there, she manages to get a job with one of the top gourmet chocolate creators in the city, hoping not to be exposed as a fraud. As Anna learns the true art of chocolate while falling in love with the owner's son Laurent, Claire makes her own journey to Paris in order to tie up some loose ends.
Those loose ends include a former romance which has an unexpected connection to Anna's current love life. Will this reunion of friends old and new be a sweet or salty affair? I've heard great things about Colgan's tasty tales and this charming box of chocolates seems a fine place to start:
Things do get more busy in the fall, so taking an armchair trip to Paris might be the perfect refuge from the upcoming hustle and bustle of the season. Plus, the best part of any vacation is sharing your stories about it with friends later, so why not skip right to that part? Not to mention that a book is the best souvenir of all: