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Loved "Belle Epoque"

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 :new:

Just my first post of an opinion on a newly-released book, and I'm not just saying this because I'm taking the editor's class at the August SCBWI meeting (full disclosure--journalists should always follow a policy of full disclosure). Graham is not my real name, so there. 

I bought the Kindle version of Elizabeth Ross's YA "Belle Epoque" because I was required to read it for the class. The library didn't have a copy. (Not yet, anyway. Publication date was June 15, 2013. Delacorte Press.) And I have to be honest here: I'm not a big fan of all things Parisian (never been to France, took Russian--you read that correctly, RUSSIAN--in high school), although I do like a fresh, crusty baguette with a hot steamy bowl of lobster bisque, so long as the base is real cream and butter (is that French enough?). But I digress.

I was prepared to slog through the book as fast as possible and then get to the other books on the list. Imagine my surprise when, of the required reading, I enjoyed "Belle Epoque" the most. I'm not going to spoil the plot or reveal the ending here, but let's just say that those who deserved it got a deliciously devious (yet fitting) comeuppance. I don't have a daughter, but if I did, I might consider giving her a copy. Why? Because she would likely have been cursed with my genetics. You'll just have to read the book to figure out what that means. That's how much I liked it.
#1 - June 25, 2013, 05:16 PM

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Hmmm, I am intrigued! I did buy this for my lib so I might have to check it out!
#2 - June 25, 2013, 06:10 PM
BLACKOUT -- available now
DESERTED -- available now
SISTERS DON'T TELL -- available now
www.deenalipomi.com

I read the first two chapters as a Nook sample, and couldn't really get into it... I had a few logic questions that weren't being answered. But I know Kiperoo (are you there, Kip?) has been raving about it on Twitter, so I might need to read a bit further at the very least. The plot sounds like a lot of fun.
#3 - June 26, 2013, 06:33 AM
critically-yours.blogspot.com

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 :dancer

I'm not Kip, and Kip's not here, although I'm intrigued by THAT. (Should I check the nooks and crannies? I think maybe my husband left the patio door open last night . . .) 

I was prepared to not like this book before cracking it open. And this is why I was so surprised. I envisioned "Belle Epoque" being another story along the lines of Libba Bray's trilogy, which I read and liked well enough, but probably not to the degree of seeking to have the trilogy permanently on the shelf in a daughter's or in a niece's room. Maybe I just like the subject matter in "Belle Epoque." The story line includes examination of "What is art?" and also "What is beauty?" Plus, the book doesn't rely on a romance to hook the reader, and Ross casts a critical eye at infatuation.

Probably my biggest problem with it would be the less than realistic ending for the girls involved with the agency. I just don't think things would have worked out as well as Ross portrays--but to me, that's symptomatic of a large slice of children's literature: the need for a hopeful ending.

So, thanks for the replies. I enjoy the discussion!
#4 - June 28, 2013, 09:16 AM

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I have to agree with this book love. Anne, yes it's not a fast read per say, but I thought it brought up some excellent cultural issues that every culture faces. It was a very satisfying end and one of my favorite books of 2013. I hadn't expected to love it that much but then I love international settings and historical fiction so the two were an excellent combination for me.
#5 - June 29, 2013, 06:31 AM
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Oh, here I am! Yes, yes, yes, Anne, I absolutely LOVED this book! And I personally tore through it--I had to force myself to slow down in parts to savor the atmosphere. What I loved most was the way the beautiful writing (which I really found absolutely gorgeous) didn't at all get in the way. And I just found the whole situation so intriguing and unique and the character so perfectly sympathetic. And the atmospheric details! To me, it did just what historical fiction should--swept me to this place and time and let me savor each moment. *swoons*
#6 - June 29, 2013, 07:53 AM

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