I loved this historical fiction which I found on Net Galley a while ago. It is set against the building of the Eiffel Tower in Paris, and follows the lives and relationships of a Scottish family, their chaperone, and one of the lead engineers on Eiffel’s project.
Here’s the overview from NG:
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.
This is my favorite type of historical fiction, where I learn facts against the story of fictionalized people (with a few real figures thrown in). It was beautifully written and really makes one think about the role of women, especially in the past, and how women were often hampered by their “station” in life. Caitriona is a strong character and you can’t help but root for her. I loved the ending, too!
Highly recommended! Thank you for my e-copy!