Thursday, August 8, 2013

Book Review: Belle Epoque by Elizabeth Ross

Belle Epoque
By Elizabeth Ross
Release Date: June 11, 2013
Source: Publisher
Summary: When Maude Pichon runs away from provincial Brittany to Paris, her romantic dreams vanish as quickly as her savings. Desperate for work, she answers an unusual ad. The Durandeau Agency provides its clients with a unique service—the beauty foil. Hire a plain friend and become instantly more attractive. 

Monsieur Durandeau has made a fortune from wealthy socialites, and when the Countess Dubern needs a companion for her headstrong daughter, Isabelle, Maude is deemed the perfect foil.

But Isabelle has no idea her new "friend" is the hired help, and Maude's very existence among the aristocracy hinges on her keeping the truth a secret. Yet the more she learns about Isabelle, the more her loyalty is tested. And the longer her deception continues, the more she has to lose.

Review: I had absolutely no idea what this book was about, other than that is took place in Paris in the late 1800s. Because of that, I was super surprised by the storyline that I've never read anything like before, but I was ready to be amazed. 

Maude has run away from her country life and escapes to Paris where she hopes a glamorous life is waiting for her. She doesn't expect things to be so hard and she'll do anything for a job, so she accepts a strange ad in the desperate attempt to earn money. Little does she know the company she's applying to is unique; plain girls are hired to accompany the rich and famous to make them look good. When a Countess comes in looking for a girl to make her daughter shine, she chooses Maude as her companion. The only problem is that the Countess's daughter has no idea Maude is hired, and Maude must befriend and betray the innocent girl. Is money worth more than loyalty in this new, crazy Paris world? 

Wow, I had never heard of hiring plain and ugly girls to make the rich look pretty. Who comes up with those ideas? Maude's story, though, was so original and refreshing, and I had no idea what was going to happen with each turn of the page. 

I love how Maude came into Paris as naive as the reader. Neither of us knew what Paris would hold for her and it was like we were discovering that life along with Maude. Oh, and the time period she lives in is amazing! They are in the middle of constructing the Eiffel Tower, so it's really cool seeing how so many people hate the concept and are watching the great tower being built in the middle of their city. Also, the other girls who work with Maude are all different, yet the same and I love how they all just mesh really well together. Their stories are great and their presence in the story add so much more to Maude's struggle to really live. 

Overall, this was a refreshing historical read with interesting characters and a great Parisian setting. We get to see the not so glamorous side of the rich and famous society, along with a glimpse at what life was really like in Paris in the late 1800s. As a debut novel, I'd say Elizabeth Ross really hit the mark with this one!


  1. I'm glad that you liked this one so much! I just got it a few weeks ago, but I haven't gotten around to reading it yet! Great review!

  2. This sounds like something I must read! I am obsessed with France, especially Brittany, and I also love Paris AND historical novels. Adding this to my TBR now. Great review!

    Amber @ Fall Into Books

  3. I found the concept of the book intriguing but as you mentioned seeing the Paris from the 1800's where the Eiffel Tower was being built and the social circumstances that give Maude this unique opportunity while taking the focus out of the glamour of Paris in it's Bohème period hopefully will give us all that sense of a refreshing historical fiction as it did to you.

  4. I've seen a lot of good things about this one, I need to pick it up soon! I bet everything to do with the Eiffel Tower was really interesting!


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