Author: Olivia Lara
Thank you to Aria and Beauty and Lace Book Club for the opportunity to read and review Olivia Lara’s debut novel “Someday in Paris”.
This book had me from the very first page, sending tingles up my spine as the character Dominque, now aged eighty reflects on what makes people fall in love, and how do you know if you have found your soulmate. Revealing that the women in her family have a special gift, a gift that reveals itself around the age of 15 when the dreams that are not dreams begin. Some of the women choose to believe, others dismiss the idea. Those that dismiss the idea find love, and yet somehow something is always missing.
Warning, the following may contain spoilers:
In 2019 Dominique’s granddaughter, Valerie, celebrates her 21st birthday. Dominique has been waiting since Valerie turned 15 for evidence that Valerie too experiences the dreams, the reverie as she calls it. That year on 9 December, a special day in Dominique’s life, she discovers that Valerie is indeed experiencing the dreams. Now is the time to tell her the story, the story of the three identical paintings on the wall, the book with lilies on the cover, about dreams and taking chances, about missed opportunities, mistakes, loss, sacrifice but mostly about love. About the type of love that survives everything, time, distance, even death, about the kind of love she wishes Valerie to experience more than anything.
Dominique’s story begins on 9 December 1954 when a 15-year-old girl named Zara is hiding in the minuscule art library in the museum in Colmar, she is entranced by all things art, but being still a child she is not allowed in the hallowed sanctum of Colmar’s art library and she is afraid if she is caught again her mother who works at the museum will lose her job. Inexplicably she is drawn to a book on the NEW shelf, Monet’s Impressionism Limited First Edition 1954. When the lights in the old museum flicker and go out Zara discovers another person present, a boy that she has never before met, whose face she cannot see in the dark and who yet appears so familiar, so right. At the last minute, before he leaves they exchange names, Leon asks for her address and promises to write and then they are separated.
Despite never having seen each other’s face it appears that both have become enamored of the other, almost to the point of obsession. Yet over many years, every time it seems that destiny is bringing them together, something interferes to keep them apart. For me this was the only frustrating aspect of the book, how many times can two people have an inkling that they are close, that something special is going to happen, only to have it torn away. At times I wanted to scream at the characters, open your eyes, open your mouths, but of course I couldn’t and I just needed to keep reading and hope that eventually destiny and fate would work in their favour!
To further complicate matters Lara has introduced two other characters, Nicole and Vincent. Nicole is the daughter of JJ (Jean Jacques D’Angers), Leon’s godfather and his father’s best friend, and in1945 when Leon and Nicole are both seven they begin living next door to each other in one of three apartments on the top floor of Manhattan’s most coveted and newest high rises. In the third apartment lives Vincent Saint Germain, aged eight, who has lived next to Nicole for many years. Like the D’Angers, the Saint Germain’s are “old” money, Leon’s family is new money and never quite good enough.
As the years progress, Leon and Nicole become best friends, and Vincent becomes Nicole’s boyfriend. Leon can’t wait to tell Nicole about his meeting with Zara, but his ongoing obsession creates tension between them. Leon, being as unaware as many boys of that age are, completely misses that Nicole is actually in love with him, not Vincent, meanwhile, Vincent thinks that Leon is treading on his turf and is insanely jealous of him, a situation that was never going to end well as lies and desire for revenge leads to a tragic conclusion.
With everything conspiring to keep them apart, can Zara and Leon ever find each other?
Lara’s debut novel is beautifully written with a depth of feeling, the characters alive and interesting and the descriptions of places and artworks clearly painted with words.
Highly recommended I give it 4 stars.
A selection of our Beauty and Lace Club Members are reading Someday in Paris by Olivia Lara. You can read their comments below, or add your own review.
I love to read, for many years my passion has been science fantasy but recently I’ve discovered many fabulous Australian women authors and am devouring all the new genres I am being exposed to.
In addition to reading and reviewing books I enjoy photography, spending time with my husband, daughter, grandson, 2 dogs and a cat and am an aspiring author.