The Light of Paris

The Light of Paris

by Eleanor Brown


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The Light of Paris by Eleanor Brown

“I adored The Light of Paris. It’s so lovely and big-hearted—it made me long for Paris.”—Jojo Moyes, New York Times-bestselling author of Me Before You and After You

The miraculous novel from the New York Times–bestselling author of The Weird Sisters—a sensation beloved by critics and readers alike.
Madeleine is trapped—by her family's expectations, by her controlling husband, and by her own fears—in an unhappy marriage and a life she never wanted. From the outside, it looks like she has everything, but on the inside, she fears she has nothing that matters.

In Madeleine’s memories, her grandmother Margie is the kind of woman she should have been—elegant, reserved, perfect. But when Madeleine finds a diary detailing Margie’s bold, romantic trip to Jazz Age Paris, she meets the grandmother she never knew: a dreamer who defied her strict, staid family and spent an exhilarating summer writing in cafés, living on her own, and falling for a charismatic artist.

Despite her unhappiness, when Madeleine’s marriage is threatened, she panics, escaping to her hometown and staying with her critical, disapproving mother. In that unlikely place, shaken by the revelation of a long-hidden family secret and inspired by her grandmother’s bravery, Madeleine creates her own Parisian summer—reconnecting to her love of painting, cultivating a vibrant circle of creative friends, and finding a kindred spirit in a down-to-earth chef who reminds her to feed both her body and her heart.

Margie and Madeleine’s stories intertwine to explore the joys and risks of living life on our own terms, of defying the rules that hold us back from our dreams, and of becoming the people we are meant to be.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780399573729
Publisher: Penguin Publishing Group
Publication date: 04/04/2017
Edition description: Reprint
Pages: 320
Sales rank: 172,252
Product dimensions: 5.40(w) x 8.20(h) x 0.80(d)

About the Author

Eleanor Brown is the author of The Weird Sisters. Her writing has been published in anthologies, magazines, and journals. She holds an M.A. in Literature and has worked in education in South Florida. She lives in Highlands Ranch, Colorado.

What People are Saying About This

Mary Kay Andrews

Paris is always a good idea. It's not just a line from an old movie, it's a credo, and the underlying idea of Eleanor Brown's wise and charming new novel, The Light of Paris. Protagonist Madeleine Spencer is repressed, depressed and downright oppressed in her marriage to a chilly Chicago businessman. When she flees both to her Southern hometown her critical mother is less than welcoming. It's only when Madeleine opens a dusty trunk in the attic of the family home and finds her grandmother Margie's forgotten Parisian diary that Madeleine begins to find her way home--both emotionally and physically. The Light of Paris is a warm and illuminating novel of great hope and heart. --Mary Kay Andrews, New York Times-bestselling author of Beach Town and Ladies' Night

Jojo Moyes

I adored The Light of Paris. It's so lovely and big-hearted—it made me long for Paris. --Jojo Moyes, New York Times-bestselling author of After You

Paula McLain

Eleanor Brown is high priestess of that rich place where soulfulness and emotional insight meet laugh-out-loud humor. In her wry and affecting follow-up to The Weird Sisters, we meet Margie and Madeleine—two women separated by decades and continents, but on same essential journey toward self-exploration and self-knowledge. Somehow each must learn to thrust off others' expectations and their own well-warn fears to reclaim themselves and discover the lives they were always meant for. A deeply rewarding read, The Light of Paris will keep you thinking—and smiling—long after the last page is turned. --Paula McLain, author of The Paris Wife and Circling the Sun

Reading Group Guide


1. The city of Paris becomes a character in its own right throughout the novel. What is the significance of Paris to the story itself? What does it mean to Margie when she lives there and to Madeleine as she reads about it?

2. What are the family patterns that are carried through the three generations of women—Margie, Simone, and Madeleine? How are they similar and how are they different?

3. Madeleine has a difficult relationship with her mother, Simone. Did you feel sympathy for Simone at any point? Have you experienced a mother-daughter dynamic like this in your own life?

4. How are Margie and Madeleine’s relationships with their mothers similar? How are they different? Do you think the habit of parents placing expectations on their children is a breakable pattern?

5. Madeleine and Margie want independent lives, but both have been very sheltered. In what ways are they prepared or unprepared for the realities that face them?

6. The story takes place during two different time periods: 1924 and 1999. What do those years have in common, and how do they affect the story?

7. Madeleine escapes to her home town of Magnolia in the same way that Margie escapes to Paris. Do these two cities have anything in common? How are they different? Do they impact Madeleine and Margie in similar or different ways?

8. Margie wants to write, Madeleine to paint. How does their art affect both their lives and what happens in the story?

9. Did Margie make the right choice? What were the consequences of her decision?

10. At the end of the novel, Madeleine gets a studio to paint in—a room of her own. What is the significance of this space for Madeleine? How does it affect her character?

11. How have circumstances for women changed between the different time periods of Margie and Madeleine’s stories? In what way are they the same?

Customer Reviews

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The Light of Paris 4.6 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 10 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
The story goes between two generations of women, a grandmother and granddaughter . Two woman who have been suppressed in their own time. One emerges while the other regresses. Good story.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
A amazing study of how we all as women face the conflict of society's expectations against honoring our true selves.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Such a wonderful story! Must read!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
The characters and settings of this book came alive for me through Eleanor Brown's words. I was sad to leave Madeline and Margie when it ended, but I will carry them in my heart forever.
CharlotteLynnsReviews More than 1 year ago
What can be more empowering to a woman than doing what they want when the world is against them? Both Madeleine and Margie didn’t belong in the life they were born into. They wanted more. Madeleine visits Paris as a chaperone and soon her cousin leaves her behind doing her own thing. The people she meets, the places she visits, and the experiences she have forever change her view on life. I loved seeing the ins and outs of Paris through her eyes. The clubs, the Libe, and the café’s that Madeleine visited came alive to me while reading The Light of Paris. I could hear the jazz music, I could see the couples dancing, I could envision the art she was seeing, and I could hear the French language being spoken as she made her way around Paris. Eleanor Brown did an amazing job bring the city to life by using words. I am still on the fence about how I feel about the rest of her story. Was she destined to live that type of life? I had hope that things would be different for her but I suppose it was what had to happen. It wasn’t a horrible life she lived it was just so different from what she and I had hoped for her. Margie… she had different problems. Her husband was horrible to her. There were times I felt like he was abusing her verbally. Her self esteem was so low. Then she went home to her mother. Her mother was not much better. I cannot imagine not having a mother who doesn’t support and protect you. Margie finds the support she needs in unlikely people. The friends don’t push her to make decisions or tell her what to do; they listen and just spend time with her. I loved her sharing of her grandmother’s, Madeleine, journals and how they lifted her up and showed her that there was more to life than what she was currently life she was living. I feel like those journals really pushed her to do more. Her ending was wonderful and perfect. I was hoping for an ending similar to that for her. I finished reading The Light of Paris and just sat and thinking about how wonderful the story and characters were. There is so much more that I would like to share about this book but it would contain spoilers and I don’t share spoilers. Absolutely go get a copy.
AMCV22 More than 1 year ago
Very, very good book! Amazing storyline with well constructed characters. After reading this, I desperately wanted to go to Paris! Read this; you won'the regret it!
nhr3bookcrazyNR More than 1 year ago
Hard to explain - even to myself - why I kept reading the book. Although the writing is actually good, and the basis of the book is important: be true to yourself, and follow your dreams - I was constantly depressed by the women who are the main characters. No warm fuzzies by parents to their child in any of these women. I kept hoping that I would LIKE the book. But I did finish it - for some reason I was compelled to do so.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Cynthia181 More than 1 year ago
I won this book from Goodreads and was asked to give an honest review. It was wonderful when you are telling a story about women from the same family in different generations. You have a grandmother who's mom has a set of standards for her daughter just after WWI and the 20's and a granddaughter who has a free spirit but a mother who has the same standards for her daughter that her grandmother had for her own mother and they just don't understand their daughters and their free spirits and artistic abilities. One as a writer and the other as a painter. I loved how you get the insight on how the granddaughter understand her grandmother and is feeling like she just lets her husband belittle her and she needs to find herself and because of her grandmother's journal she does
Deb-Krenzer More than 1 year ago
This was such a great story. I absolutely loved it. A social class where you are expected to follow your family traditions. One of those being marrying someone who can benefit your family and its future generations. Love does not fit into the equation. It is something that comes through time spent together (tolerance) not a feeling. A story of three generations with focus on the present generation and her grandmother's journals. While not a suspense or mystery, I still could not put it down. Why didn't Madeline's grandmother end up with her true love? I had to know. A beautifully written story with great characters that I was sad to have to close the cover on. I sincerely was not ready to say goodbye to these folks. Well, I was definitely ready, past ready to say goodbye to Phillip. I'm seriously thinking his name should have been Richard. Ha!! I highly recommend this book! Thanks Putnam and Net Galley for providing me with a free e-galley in exchange for an honest review.