Born into a wealthy Parisian family at the center of Belle Epoque society, 18-year-old Aimée Savaray dreams of becoming a respected painter in the male-dominated art world; and secretly, she also dreams of being loved by Henri, the boy her parents took in as a child and raised alongside her.
But when Henri inexplicably disappears, in the midst of the Franco-Prussian war, the Savarays’ privileged lives begin to unravel. Heartbroken, Aimée tries to find him, but Henri doesn’t want to be found—and only one member of the family knows why.
As Aimée seeks refuge in the art world, mentored by the Impressionist Édouard Manet, she unwittingly finds her way back to Henri. With so many years gone by and secrets buried, their eventual reunion unmasks the lies that once held the family together, but now threaten to tear them apart.
A rich and opulent saga, Girl in the Afternoon brings the Impressionists to life in this portrait of scandal, fortune, and unrequited love.
Give me a beautiful cover, a historical fiction (with a mystery), and a lovely setting and I'm yours forever! Well, perhaps not, I do want a story as well that totally enthrall me and leave me with a bookish hangover and heartache. Then, we're talking!
Girl in the Afternoon couldn't really please me in the story aspect. I did enjoy reading the book. However, I felt that something was missing from the book, and I'm quite sure that the characters are to blame for it, at least for me. I just couldn't find any connection with them, they never fleshed out. All through the book, they felt like "shadows", like something essential was missing from them, something that stopped them from becoming "alive". I especially have a problem with Henri, you hardly get to know him before he leaves the family in the beginning and all through the book I struggle with getting to know him as a character. Well, to be honest, I felt that with almost all of them. But, since Henri is an important character to the story felt it odd that he was so flat and that I just didn't care that much for him or the big mystery of him leaving. Yes, I was curious, but not overwhelmed by the mystery.
I felt aloof reading the book, like everything happening never really bothered me or really got interesting. Things happened, people died, and mysteries was revealed and all I could think of was "Oh alright". The only time I felt emotionally stirred was when the events with the children happened. And, I was angry on their behalf. Also, I did find the reason for Henri leaving the family disturbing. It's hard to explain why since I can't discuss the reason. But, it was just so...wrong.
So, now I have complained enough. Now I will tell you all why I did give the book 3 stars instead of 2. I did find the book interesting to read and very easy to read. I was ready to give the book after a couple of chapters because of my lack of connection with the characters, but I also wanted to know what would happen and I felt that way all through the book. If I only have cared more for the characters would I have loved this book.
So, not a personal favorite this year, but nevertheless interesting to read. This book may not be for everyone, but if you are reading this book and find yourself connecting with the characters would I advise you to keep on reading because it's not at all a bad book!
I want to thank St. Martin's Press for providing me with a free copy through NetGalley for an honest review!