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Sunday, July 24, 2016

Girl in the Afternoon by Serena Burdick

Title: Girl in the Afternoon: A Novel of Paris
Author: Serena Burdick
Publisher: July 12th 2016 by St. Martin's Press
Pages: 288 pages
How I Read It: ARC book
Genre: historical fiction, romance, cultural-France
My Rating: 3 crown


Born into a wealthy Parisian family at the center of Belle Epoque society, 18-year-old Aimée Savaray dreams of becoming a respected painter in the male-dominated art world; and secretly, she also dreams of being loved by Henri, the boy her parents took in as a child and raised alongside her.

But when Henri inexplicably disappears, in the midst of the Franco-Prussian war, the Savarays’ privileged lives begin to unravel. Heartbroken, Aimée tries to find him, but Henri doesn’t want to be found—and only one member of the family knows why.

As Aimée seeks refuge in the art world, mentored by the Impressionist Édouard Manet, she unwittingly finds her way back to Henri. With so many years gone by and secrets buried, their eventual reunion unmasks the lies that once held the family together, but now threaten to tear them apart.
A rich and opulent saga, Girl in the Afternoon brings the Impressionists to life in this portrait of scandal, fortune, and unrequited love.

My Thoughts

"Girl in the Afternoon' is a historical fiction set in Paris and England in the 1870's during the impressionist movement and revolves around a well off family, their secrets and ensuing scandals. The title of the book is based on a painting that proved pivotal to the story.  The main focus is on the daughter, Aimee, attempting to be her own person but often conflicted with outside circumstances. Overall, this was a good,  but a somewhat predictable mystery.

The writing is at times poetic and the character I enjoyed most was Madame Savaray for the depth she bought to the story.

"Dust floated like a strip of tulle in the dull light. Colette swirled her arm through it, scattering the motes with her open hand."

Unfortunately this books suffers for a few reasons. Burdick launched straight into it, attempting to create intrigue, however, I was not yet invested and for me, it fell flat. I also found the going back and forth between points of views challenging at times, especially within a short passage. This did not assist the story, often feeling like it wasn't going anywhere, and contributed to my lack of involvement with the characters at times. Everything explained, no guessing as told in the third person too often. 

There is a lot of future forecasts interspersed throughout, when all you really wanted was for the story to be told, not inferenced. The preemptive took all the angst, drama and anticipation out of the story.

"he had no idea of the crippling events that would unfold over the next few months" 

Finally, with one third of the book remaining, a compelling story began to unfold and we have raw emotion. Now I was invested, but a little too late. Still, it helped make it a three star, worthwhile read.

"He turned onto his side, feeling the tremendous expanse of Aimee's grief as if it were his own."

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

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