by Santa Montefiore
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Publication date: February 5, 2013
Genre: Woman's Lit
Purchase*: Barnes and Noble/Amazon/Book Depository
They had built their lives in this grand old house, its walls encompassing their family and their secrets. Nestled in the sweeping hills they have always known, the house is part of their history, their heritage. But these four walls also hold a secret. When Lord Frampton dies in a skiing accident, a beautiful young woman named Phaedra appears at his funeral—claiming to be the lord’s illegitimate daughter. In his will, Lord Frampton has left the priceless Frampton suite of sapphires to this interloper, confirming her claim and outraging his three adult sons and widow. Eventually, however, Phaedra’s sweet nature thaws the frosty relationships. She becomes the daughter that Antoinette Frampton never had and a wise and compassionate granddaughter to the formidable Dowager Lady Frampton. But an attraction grows between Phaedra and the eldest son, David. It seems an impossible love—blocked by their blood connection and by the fury of one family member who is determined to expose Phaedra as a fraud.It isn’t often that I read about a modern day family of aristocrats and was both drawn to the cover of The Woman from Paris and the synopsis. I was eager to unveil the families secrets nestled in their Hampshire home. Montefiore with her pen painted an almost lyrical image of the countryside, home and characters that resided within its walls. She tells a tale of forbidden love, jealousy and secrets. She delivers a powerful message about love and family. The author held me captive and stole my heart.
The tale begins on the morning of Lord Frampton’s funeral and even the weather reflects the mourning within the Frampton home. At the funeral David, the eldest son meets the gaze of a beautiful young woman whose name we later learn is Phaedra. He is immediately drawn to her and contemplates such a thing as love at first sight. He wonders how she knows his father. At the wake, the shocking true is revealed; Phaedra is the illegitimate daughter of Lord Frampton, a secret he has kept from his family for almost eighteen months. When it is discovered that the late Lord changed his will and bequeathed a priceless suite of Frampton sapphires to her all hell breaks loose. Phaedra quickly wins some of the family over, while others plot to undercover her as a fraud. The tale that unfolds was beautiful, gut-wrenching and powerful. I laughed and cried as I immersed myself in this tale.
Each of the characters was well fleshed out and I loved getting to know them. Phaedra is very likeable and you cannot help but fall for her. Antoinette is hurt and confused by her late husband’s secrets and I so admired her and how she handled the rest of the characters. I absolutely adored the Dowager Margret Frampton. She seemed like the nightmare mother-in-law but turned out to be my favorite character. David was a sweetheart and tried so hard to please despite his feelings for Phaedra. I actually came to have feelings for all of the characters and just want to blather on about them, but I will let you experience them all for yourself.
Montefiore weaved a tale that felt genuine and I became swept up in the secrets, the arguments, the pain and the joy. For a time I became a Frampton and I love when an author takes me right into the story. I was so impressed with the author's writing style, and while I was a little unsure of the perspective she used, it all worked out once I adjusted. The twists and turns kept me turning the pages as I prayed things would work out in the end. I truly felt each characters emotions and even when I hated their behavior I understood them. As I closed the last page my heart lifted and I immediately wanted to share this.
If you love character driven novels based on the intricate makings of a family set against a poetic backdrop and encased in beautiful prose then The Woman From Paris is a must read.
I want to thank Tribute Books, Simon and Schuster and the author for providing this ARC in exchange for my unbiased review.
Four and half cups of Vienna coffee out of five
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