This book’s beautiful title and cover are why I initially added it to my fall-winter reading list, but its romantic escapades set during the construction of the Eiffel tower (late 1800s) did not disappoint. I’m calling To Capture What We Cannot Keep: A Novel by Beatrice Colin a “dra-mance” because it read as a romance set within uniquely Parisian drama.
Cait, a Scottish widow, is hired as a “chaperone” for two young Scottish adults, Alice and Jaime, as they experience the society of Paris as part of their non-formal education, as is expected of those in their social class.
No worries – Alice and Jaime certainly experience Paris! The young man, Jaime, who had finagled his way into an internship on the construction of the Eiffel Tower, instead spends most of his time carousing. The young lady, Alice, is of marriageable age and also manages to get herself into trouble, despite Cait’s watchful eye. Meanwhile, Cait finds herself in a romantic quadrangle (?) involving the head engineer of the tower, who is tied to Alice as well as a femme fatale who keeps popping up in various story lines.
The romantic plot focuses on the impossibility of sustaining a relationship across class boundaries with the pressure to secure relationships with only those society (or your family) would consider an acceptable match.
The mood of the time period, including that a chaperone protects the image and innocence of a non-married woman, and that Cait, only 31, is considered too old to be considered eligible provided interesting considerations.
Beyond the romances, the construction of the tower provides a fascinating backdrop. I enjoyed this aspect of the book, learning not only how the tower was constructed but also how its impending construction was perceived as an certain eye sore. Also interesting is when the narrative name drops (now) famous artists such as Van Gogh as just another new artist.
Although not an epic read as the title and cover hinted, the book is certainly fulfilling and entertaining. The overlapping of some characters and romantic interests seemed somewhat unlikely but perhaps not in the small world that would be a certain level of society during this time period.
I wholeheartedly recommend this book to those who enjoy a period-piece dra-mance, and especially to those who have an affinity for Paris.
I was provided a complimentary download of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
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