Grief creates an emotional gulf that can travel in any direction. Often without thought, rage and jealousy come forth. Tenderness and feeling are pushed aside. Grief can tear a family apart, or build a stronger unit. The emotions create such a cavalcade of chaos; often that which is torn asunder never heals.
In The Woman from Paris by Santa Montefiore, we meet a young woman as she encounters members of the deceased’s family for the first time, during the reading of the will. In a place out of time, she finds there is something that draws her, making her want to connect in any way she can. They do not know her, and yet they open their arms, enfolding her in their grief and healing.
But she is a woman with a secret, a story that could tear apart the very foundations she has begun to build. Her own pain is beginning to lighten, and love seems to be available from an unexpected source. Yet what will happen when they find out the darkness of the truth she is hiding?
Invited into their circle the character becomes as one of the family, but she knows that her house of cards could overbalance at any time, tossing her into a maelstrom of heartache. Having survived one of the greatest tragedies of her young life, she is on the cusp of regaining what she had thought gone forever.
Greed and jealousy though are never far away, and just as it seems she can finally trust her new family with the truth, blackmail sets the stage, slamming the door on everything gained. Cast adrift, she no longer knows where to go or what to do. Those who have severed the ties feel the angst and heartache as well, sense that suddenly something is missing, a glow, a simple feeling of living. Without the woman from Paris, life is bleak and drab. Can they learn to forgive and begin again?
Montefiore has given us a beautiful story of joy and heartache. The characters move through each of the facets of grief, including the anger. Phaedra, the young woman from Paris, is caught up in a series of events that create a divide, one that is carefully supported. If even on rope slips, she will lose the tenuous control she has gained. Each member of the family is depicted in stark contrast–the good, the bad, and the exceptional. The interaction drags you in, and the feeling holds you there. You feel both the joy and pain, felt when the truth becomes known.
The joy Montefiore infuses into her work shines throughout, for a message of hope and love, of being open to change. Forgiveness and love come in strange packages, and we are treated to a wonderful rendition of courage.
If you enjoy contemporary novels, romance, and all the things that go with it, you will want to add this treasure to your library. The Woman from Paris is a feel good story, full of exuberance and passion and threaded with hope. Score another winner for Santa Montefiore–this is an exceptional find.