March 17, 2015
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Possession. Power. Passion. New York Times bestselling novelist M. J. Rose creates her most provocative and magical spellbinder yet in this gothic novel set against the lavish spectacle of 1890s Belle Époque Paris.M.J. Rose's The Witch of Painted Sorrows paints a beautiful, seductive portrait of Paris in the 1890s. Our character Sandrine is different, from the start, from most women of the time period. Growing up in New York she had a father who embraced her learning and her love of art.
Sandrine Salome flees New York for her grandmother’s Paris mansion to escape her dangerous husband, but what she finds there is even more menacing. The house, famous for its lavish art collection and elegant salons, is mysteriously closed up. Although her grandmother insists it’s dangerous for Sandrine to visit, she defies her and meets Julien Duplessi, a mesmerizing young architect. Together they explore the hidden night world of Paris, the forbidden occult underground and Sandrine’s deepest desires.
Among the bohemians and the demi-monde, Sandrine discovers her erotic nature as a lover and painter. Then darker influences threaten—her cold and cruel husband is tracking her down and something sinister is taking hold, changing Sandrine, altering her. She’s become possessed by La Lune: A witch, a legend, and a sixteenth-century courtesan, who opens up her life to a darkness that may become a gift or a curse.
This is Sandrine’s “wild night of the soul,” her odyssey in the magnificent city of Paris, of art, love, and witchery.
When Sandrine's beloved father dies and she lays fault at her (much less than beloved) husband's feet, she escapes to Paris. Her plans to stay at the mansion of her grandmother, a famous courtesan, fall apart when she finds the house closed up, her grandmother not in residence.
It's why her grandmother has left h home, why sh thinks it dangerous for Sandrine to be in Paris that bring about the first questions.
The Witch of Painted Sorrows is far from the first book to have a character change and have the other characters worry for them, to see those changes as for the worse. Yet, it is the first, insofar as I can remember, where I can understand that character when they wonder, "Why is this not for the better? Why am I not better like this?" So many books I have wanted to knock some sense into characters when they couldn't see the wrongness of who they were becoming. With Sandrine, you can understand.
Belle Époque Paris is a great time period and the author really enhancing the story - and your love of the setting - by adding real characters and places from the time.
Sandrine's relationship with Julien develops very nicely. Readers can easily see why Sandrine is embracing the changes in herself and the parts of Paris he introduces her to are essential to the story and her character's development. The way we learn more of the why behind her grandmother's fears after seeing changes in Sandrine is perfect. Even as readers begin to understand there may be some basis for the worry others have for Sandrine, they also see how that change is benefiting her.
The setting of 1890s Paris, the history (and mystery) of the past, how it all affects Sandrine, the romance and Sandrine's character all combine for an unforgettable tale. This may be a series and I hope so. I would love to learn more about Sandrine or the time period or even any of the Daughters of La Lune.
digital copy received for review from publisher, via NetGalley