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“In 1909 Paris, a Russian princess, a French model, and a young Englishwoman meet at Academie Lafond, a school for aspiring female artists. It was a time when it was a woman's duty to marry and support her husband in his career and become the work of art, not the artist. These fictional characters are inspired by real women such as Suzanne Valadon, a friend and muse to Toulouse Lautrec; Ada Leigh, who ran a house for penniless English and American women in Paris; and Gertrude Stein, whose salon paintings noted in The Paris Winter were Picasso's. The reader, drawn into the underbelly of Paris with its backdrop of opium addiction, murder, and revenge, will be haunted by this tale long after the last page is turned.”
— Karen Briggs, Great Northern Books and Hobbies, Oscoda, MI
Maud Heighton came to Lafond's famous Academie to paint, and to flee the constraints of her small English town. It took all her courage to escape, but Paris, she quickly realizes, is no place for a light purse. While her fellow students enjoy the dazzling decadence of the Belle Epoque, Maud slips into poverty. Quietly starving, and dreading another cold Paris winter, she stumbles upon an opportunity when Christian Morel engages her as a live-in companion to his beautiful young sister, Sylvie. Maud is overjoyed by her good fortune. With a clean room, hot meals, and an umbrella to keep her dry, she is able to hold her head high as she strolls the streets of Montmartre. No longer hostage to poverty and hunger, Maud can at last devote herself to her art.
But all is not as it seems. Christian and Sylvie, Maud soon discovers, are not quite the darlings they pretend to be. Sylvie has a secret addiction to opium and Christian has an ominous air of intrigue. As this dark and powerful tale progresses, Maud is drawn further into the Morels' world of elegant deception. Their secrets become hers, and soon she is caught in a scheme of betrayal and revenge.
Revealing a side of the city that few see, Imogen Robertson's The Paris Winter plunges into the darkness that lies beneath this glittering city of light.