Sometimes, secrets have a way of coming out.
The Paris Time Capsule by Ella Carey is a fictional recounting of a true story – and one such secret reimagined.
I know I often tell you how I ended up reading different books, but with me, I think context can be everything. In this case, I was sitting in an airport thinking about my upcoming trip to Paris. Maybe it was the romantic cover… maybe it was the fact that the photos it was based on also triggered something in me when I saw them.
Maybe it was just Thursday.
I don’t know exactly, but all I can tell you is that for whatever reason, I downloaded this book. I had read this article a few years ago about a Parisian flat that was opened after being completely untouched for 70 years. As a North Shore Long Island girl, I am no stranger to grand homes left barren to fall. The Gold Coast is a veritable graveyard of Edwardian treasures. But to imagine stepping into an apartment left just as it had been that fateful day before Hitler marched on Paris? Wow.
Apparently, author Ella Carey, too, was drawn in by the story. Her book, The Paris Time Capsule, provides us with a fictional account of the people surrounding the story. She takes the facts as they were offered – what was found, who initially owned the flat, how much the infamous Baldini painting sold for, etc, and tapers a romantic contemporary tale of love and loss, survival and secrets.
The story gripped me from the first chapter, inside a shabby chic Brooklyn apartment with a strange little package from Paris. Cat Jordan does seem to have it all – the hot, wealthy boyfriend, a career in her field – even if it’s not enjoyable, and the future she pictured for herself.
And then it all changes.
Cat is left an apartment by a French woman she’s never met. She has no idea why; she has no idea how. She is suddenly swept off to Paris to try and sort it out. And then things get more complex, when she meets the late Isabelle de Florian’s grandson, Loic. As they try and sort out this mystery – and make no mistake, this book IS a mystery – feelings percolate and smolder under the surface.
They enter the apartment and find it completely untouched since right before the Parisian
occupation. Carey’s descriptions in this portion of the book are spot-on, making you feel like you’re truly walking through the rooms, spying the scarf-laden peacock and gazing at the beautiful painting of Marthe de Florian in the bedroom.
But this is where things get really interesting. Carey begins to spin the backstory as she imagines it. In reality, no one knows where the actual apartment is, nor do we know why it was left vacant so long. Never fear; Carey weaves a believable story that will drag you – the reader – across Paris and seven decades.
As they try and sort out this mystery – and make no mistake, this book IS a mystery – feelings percolate and smolder under the surface between Loic and Cat. Cat fights her attraction, pursues instead the life she’s always imagined for herself, while trying to resolve the mystery of the Paris apartment.
In the end, we are left with a gratifying tale that respects the facts of the true story, while giving a solid reasoning for how such an apartment could exist – and why someone would choose never to return.
I l.o.v.e.d. this book. I shouldn’t be surprised there are several books written around this famous story, and perhaps I will check out another, but frankly, Loic and Cat really make this story. I am also a sucker for a great narrator, so let me just say that Emily Sutton-Smith does this story and its characters justice with all their accents, personalities and quirks.
If you have not read up on the actual news story, you might want to research it a bit first. Carey has some of the pictures on her website, along with some of the back story. But do a real search, look at the pictures of the inside of the apartment and get swept up in the true tale before reading this book. It will make it richer, deeper and more fulfilling.
If you’d like to pick up the Paris Time Capsule by Ella Carey, you can grab it on Amazon. It’s also free with Kindle Unlimited.