Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Belle Epoque by Elizabeth Ross

HEY GUYS, I know I haven't posted a review in awhile but that doesn't mean I haven't been reading! School started again and I always get super stressed out in the first week. Pluuuuus, I felt a little burnt after reading King Cave (review to come once I figure out how to create separate posts under Bookdictive After Dark because Blogger is being a butt and won't allow me to). So I took a couple of weeks off. :D BUT I AM BACK, and with a five star review!!!
Disclaimer: I have been to Canada many times, and on my last visit, my family was there for ten days. In Quebec. Did you know that some parts of Quebec are entirely French, like Troi-Rivieres? I didn't, so I spent that whole trip learning/perfecting VERY basic French, so there will be some brillant displays of my French skills! 

Book: Belle Epoque by Elizabeth Ross
Bookdictive Categorization: YA (historical fiction)
Rating: 5/5 stars!!!!!!!!!!
Procurement: Amazon Kindle download
Recommend? If yes, to whom?: ANYONE AND EVERYONE. Well, at least those that read YA. ;)
I was terrified that I was going to start 2014 off with a DNF (Did Not Finish) but thankfully, the lovely Tt over at Never-Ending Stories asked if I wanted to read Belle Epoque as a buddy read, and thank goodness she did! To make up for those two DNF's I had at the end of December/continuing into early January, I (unknowingly) read a five star book! 

Belle Epoque is not fantasy. It is not terribly romantic (though romance is involved). It involves the French, whose culture I'm fond of but not so much the people. Nothing magical, nothing mythical, just historical. Pas de probleme though! Belle Epoque is well-written, researched, and bookdictive. But I had to take a step back and ask myself WHY was this book so bookdictive? 
Well for starters, I loved being able to read about a character who isn't classically pretty, and through no magical transformation does she become pretty. That's not to say she wouldn't be pretty now (makeup/our general acceptance of "different" types of beauty) but for this, no, she's not pretty. She is, in fact, a repoussoir, which is basically an ugly woman hired to make a pretty girl look even prettier! 
But hey, she's basically the BEST of the uglies, and "she" refers to the MC, Maude Pichon. Maude is a lot like Pretty Woman (I've been referring to Julia Roberts' character as 'Pretty Woman' for as long as I can remember, even though it's one of my favorite movies), the story of a hooker with a soul of gold. She's a bit hard to stomach on the outside, but inside, she's got a good heart even if she's a bit rough around the edges. 
Belle Epoque reminded me a little bit of Bright Young Things by Anna Godbersen. Classic girl hates life, leaves small town to escape abusive/jerk face dad/husband/boyfriend/whatevs and goes balls-to-the-wall by choosing a HUGE city. In Belle Epoque, it's Paris. That was a first! The book takes place around when the Eiffel Tower is being built, which I knew nothing about. It was so cool to read about something that I've always been annoyed with (I HATE when I think something is cute and then I see it has the stupid Eiffel Tower plastered all over it) and actually stay interested. 

I think Paris is super overdone when it comes to pop culture (HIPSTER ALERT HIPSTER ALERT!! I'm so sorry), but Belle Epoque presents it in a way that has a certain je ne sais quoi to it. 
The charming streets, the descriptions of food, the struggling musician/romantic interest, and the events like going to the opera are c'est magnifique! The descriptions truly captivated me, forcing me to keep reading even though I greatly wanted to pace myself.
But okay, if you're a follower of my blog, I can see how the underwhelming romance and lack of mysticism could leave you asking, "...what else is there?" 
Sorry, couldn't resist!

Don't hate me, but it's the friendship between the Countess' daughter Isabelle and Maude. I AM SO SORRY, BUT YES, WHAT MAKES THIS BOOK SO GOOD IS THE FRIENDSHIP!
Like, how boring, I know. Let me just make it worse with this additional bonus: On top of the wonderful friendship, the MORAL OF THE STORY JUST MAKES THIS BOOK EVEN BETTER!
I've lost you, oui? Hopefully not! 
Assuming you are still following my blog, just read this quote from Belle Epoque and tell me that it doesn't resonate with you in some way: 
"...the beauty of a soul, that inner life that reveals itself so seldom, just for an instant, and only if you look closely and learn to see with an open heart."
Haven't we all felt hideous at one point or another?? (or at three points, four points, a million points...)
And then haven't we wished that there was a reason why we were born "hideous"? Just letting you know, you're NOT hideous, but that's not the important part. The whole point of Belle Epoque is, yes, a good story with fantastic descriptions and YA appeal, but more importantly, it's about INNER BEAUTY winning out over OUTER BEAUTY.
I will not spoil this book, but the ending is so sweet and perfect that you'll be glad you read this. The characters come full circle and UGH, I'd love to spoil it, but alas I cannot! Zut alors

Go read this, please, and for the love of brie and baguettes buy some French food to eat whilst you read it. You'll be glad you did. 

Copyright © 2015 Bookdictive Reviews