November 29, 2016
Set against the construction of the Eiffel Tower, this novel charts the relationship between a young widow and an engineer who, despite constraints of class and wealth, fall in love. In February 1887, Caitriona Wallace and Émile Nouguier meet in a hot air balloon, floating high above Paris--a moment of pure possibility. But back on firm ground, their vastly different social strata become clear. Cait is a widow who because of her precarious financial situation is forced to chaperone two wealthy Scottish charges. Émile is expected to take on the bourgeois stability of his family's business and choose a suitable wife. As the Eiffel Tower rises, a marvel of steel and air and light, the subject of extreme controversy and a symbol of the future, Cait and Émile must decide what their love is worth. Seamlessly weaving historical detail and vivid invention, Beatrice Colin evokes the revolutionary time in which Cait and Émile live--one of corsets and secret trysts, duels and Bohemian independence, strict tradition and Impressionist experimentation. To Capture What We Cannot Keep, stylish, provocative, and shimmering, raises probing questions about a woman's place in that world, the overarching reach of class distinctions, and the sacrifices love requires of us all.
To Capture and Keep a Heart
How does one capture what they cannot keep? This is a question that weaves itself throughout this novel, from considering matters of the human heart, to business and success. How does one grasp what they want, and hold it tight, if it is meant to be fleeting? Can barriers that have stood for ages be broken down sufficiently to allow for the impossible? And most importantly, can love be a permanent game-changer?
While this book did not immediately grab my attention, but once it did, there was no doubt that I would be kept in its thrall until the very last page. The story is beautiful, and set against the equally stunning backdrop of historical Paris, during the construction of the Eiffel Tower. The heroine, Cait Wallace is a paragon of morality and traditional values, making her whirlwind affair with the liberal Parisian, Emile at once surprising, and sweet. But Emile, while liberal in his views on love, must remain traditional in his views on marriage due to his ailing mother’s desires to see him suitably married before she dies. So, is love enough to convince him to span the chasm of class for a match of intellectual equality and physical longing? Is the breathless love that Cait and Emile feel for each other enough…or will it be something that they cannot keep?
Woven into this turbulent romantic tale, is a good bit of history, regarding both the building of the Eiffel Tower and the French drive to build the Panama Canal, along with an exploration of Parisian culture prior to World War I. Equally intriguing, is how the characters react to the idea of choosing your own type of success, which is a vibrant and new concept in that time period. They must each consider how to hold on to family fortunes or ideals, and how to live up to expectations, that they may not have much interest in.
So how does one capture what they cannot keep? Read this book to find out…the answer might surprise you.
Meghan is a coffee connoisseur, devoted milspouse, and exhausted momma to a three year old daughter and three dogs. She enjoys hiking, glamping, and traveling. You are mostly likely to find her reading good books in a hammock with a view of the ocean or mountains.