‘TO CAPTURE WHAT WE CANNOT KEEP’ – Beatrice Colin

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Thanks to Allen and Unwin for sending me a copy to review. The cover, title and description of the book really intrigued me, plus I love Paris and reading books set in the beautiful city, so I couldn’t wait to read a historical fiction novel set in 1880’s Paris when the Eiffel Tower was being built. Even though the story was an enjoyable read, it just wasn’t as captivating as I would have hoped.

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.

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I loved the setting and time period of the book the most, as I mentioned earlier. I love reading historical fiction books, but the only one that I’ve read that’s set in Paris is ‘All The Light We Cannot See’, so I was really excited to see what ‘To Capture What We Cannot Keep’ had to offer. Paris in general is one of my favourite cities in the world, and when I travelled there a few years ago, I fell in love with it and it’s beautiful buildings – in particular the Eiffel Tower. Being able to read a book that focuses around the time that the Eiffel Tower was built was spectacular and a really interesting time in history.

One aspect of the book that I didn’t particularly like was the characters and I didn’t feel like I could connect to any of them. I was excited to see how the romance between Emile and Cait would go, and it was probably what I was most excited to read about when I first read the blurb. However, their relationship just didn’t do anything for me and I wasn’t as intrigued to read about them as I thought I would be.

Despite enjoying the back story and the history of the Eiffel Tower being built, the rest of the plot was a bit disappointing. I enjoyed the beginning, probably because I was excited for the possibilities that the book held, but the more the book went on the less I enjoyed reading it. I usually enjoy historical fiction books, but this one was just a little bit boring for me.

I know that I’ve said quite a few negative things about this book, and very few positive ones, overall it was an okay read. I decided to give it 3 stars out of 5. If you enjoy historical fiction with romance, or 1880’s Paris time period, then I recommend giving the book a shot.

Comment below if you’ve read the book and let me know what you think! Also recommend more books set in Paris that I might want to check out!
To Capture What We Cannot Keep

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