Thursday, June 27, 2013

ARC Review: Belle Epoque by Elizabeth Ross

When Maude Pichon runs away from provincial Brittany to Paris, her romantic dreams vanish as quickly as her savings. Desperate for work, she answers an unusual ad. The Durandeau Agency provides its clients with a unique service—the beauty foil. Hire a plain friend and become instantly more attractive.

Monsieur Durandeau has made a fortune from wealthy socialites, and when the Countess Dubern needs a companion for her headstrong daughter, Isabelle, Maude is deemed the perfect foil.

But Isabelle has no idea her new "friend" is the hired help, and Maude's very existence among the aristocracy hinges on her keeping the truth a secret. Yet the more she learns about Isabelle, the more her loyalty is tested. And the longer her deception continues, the more she has to lose.

Best Bits: I'm an absolute sucker for the romantic image of Paris, so this book was definitely on my to-read list (plus, I love the cover!). I appreciated the historical portion of Ross' writing, because her descriptions of everything around Maude felt exciting. Even though I'm a fan of historical fiction, I think that books can occasionally be bogged down with details, and characters take a back seat. Ross did a good job of streamlining description into the natural flow of the story. The concept is an interesting one, too. I can think of a few books that focus on the same topic of inner vs outer beauty (i.e. DUFF), but for some reason I appreciated the topic in this one a bit more. I think it was because Maude's success in Paris is dependent upon her plainness, and we got to see how her perspective changed.

Nit Picks:  Alas, I didn't find the conflict to be all that fulfilling. It wasn't bad by any means, but it felt like typical YA fare (Maude can't tell Isabelle that she is more than just a new friend). Sure, it's different in setting and details, but I just didn't feel the immediacy of the issue. On the upside, I think that it was resolved well.

Belle Epoque 
By Elizabeth Ross
Published by Delacorte Books for Young Readers
Received via Debut Author Challenge ARC Tours
Rating: B


Christina T said...

I was drawn to this book not only by the cover but also by the history. I hadn't ever heard of beauty foils. Most of the historical fiction I've read set in Paris had to do with either the French Revolution or WWII so the setting would be something new to me as well. Great review!

Dazzling Mage said...

It's too bad about the conflict! I'll pick it up just for the writing though. Great review!

elena said...

Oooh I've had my eye on this one! Even though it's typical YA fare, I may still give it a shot if I spy it at the library or something. I really like the idea of it and yay Paris.

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