Friday, November 30, 2012

Book Review: Crossing On The Paris

Author: Dana Gynther
Publication Date: November 13, 2012
Publisher: Gallery Books

Downton Abbey meets Titanic in this sweeping historical novel about three women of different generations and classes, whose lives intersect on a majestic ocean liner traveling from Paris to New York in the wake of World War I.

The year is 1921. Three women set out on the impressive Paris ocean liner on a journey from Paris to New York. Julie Vernet is a young French woman from a working class family who has just gotten her first job as a crew worker on the ship. Escaping her small town and the memory of war, she longs for adventure on the high seas...

Constance Stone is a young American wife and mother who has traveled to Paris to rescue her bohemian sister, Faith, who steadfastly refuses to return to America and settle down. Constance returns home to New York, having failed at the duty her father asked of her...

Vera Sinclair, a rich, ex-patriate American is leaving France after thirty-one years to live out her remaining time home in America. Over the course of the transatlantic voyage, she reflects on her colorful life and looks forward to a quiet retirement. While each of these women come from different walks of life, their paths cross while at sea in a series of chance encounters. The powerful impact these disparate lives have on one another make for a magnificent and unforgettable read.


“She slid her fingers along the sturdy rail. All her life, Julie had seen spectacular ocean liners come in and out of port, right outside their kitchen windows. She watched them as they passed through their surprisingly short life cycles: their feted launches and fashionable youths, their less popular mature years, then their retirement, sometimes terribly scarred by fires or accidents only five or eight years after maiden voyage. This, however, was the first time she’d ever boarded one.” – Finished Copy pg. 25
“In these volumes, the margins, and sometimes a full page, were scattered with line drawings – comic sketches, portraits leaning toward caricature, illustrations for the text – also made with the pen, but occasionally shaded in later with pencils or pastels. Although Vera had never liked needlework, she loved drawing. In fact, when she’d first arrived in Paris, she attended the Academe Vitti, a private art school for women, but she soon tired of the routine or live models and weekly critiques. Preferring to work on her own, she visited the Louvre often and copied works in pencil or pen, simplifying Greek of Egyptian sculptures into a few sharp lines. Writing and drawing came together to make up her journals, the disjointed story of her life.” – Finished Copy pg. 39 & 40
“Though they were quieted by the full bowls in front of them, Julie was saddened by these bursts of national pride. She knew these passengers were abandoning their homelands, forced to look beyond their borders for better circumstances. Julie realized that the ship was a No Man’s Land, a gap between two worlds: their former lives and the next. What, then, did that mean for the people who worked on board? Were they forever in limbo, without country or home, tied to thankless tanks on a never-stopping ship?” – Finished Copy pg. 95
“Hailey’s Comet…Vera was reminded of that quote by Mark Twain, who was born as the comet passed and rightfully predicted that he would die when it returned. ‘The Almighty has said, no doubt, Now here are these two unaccountable freaks; they came in together, they must go out together.’ Twain was one of the few great Americans, in her opinion, only rivaled in humor and ingenuity by Benjamin Franklin.” – Finished Copy pg. 104

All of my readers know that I love books that follow the lives of more than one person and join them together, and I am here to tell you that this book fits into this category! This story takes place in June of 1921, just after the end of World War I. Three women who lead extremely different lives all board the ocean liner known as the Paris, each of them is trying to escape a part of their lives that seem empty and unfulfilled. Julie Vernet, Constance Stone, and Vera Sinclair are all traveling in three different classes and have different dreams, hopes, aspirations, and ailments. This book slowly walks you through their lives and leads you up to the reason that each of them has boarded this ship and is sailing to America.

I love anything that surrounds culture or a mixture of many different cultures. The characters in this book are each from different parts of the globe and have very different and diverse backgrounds. I loved switching back and forth between the view points of the three women because they each have something different to bring to the table. Vera is an older woman who is suffering from a fatal disease, Constance is middle aged, married, and has a family of her own, and Julie is our youngest traveler who is looking for a better life than what she already has with her parents. I loved the fact that each of these women were at different points in their lives and all had completely different circumstances.

I have to say that my favorite character was Julie Vernet. She is a young girl whose family is poverty stricken and she takes a job as a waitress aboard the Paris in order to make a better life for herself. Her character is so young and shy and this is her first sea journey. She was na├»ve at times, and my heart crumbled when because of what she experienced aboard the ship. I don’t want to go into detail, but Julie’s character is just so heart wrenching at times and I became so enthralled with her story. She is the least fortunate of the three women, and I have always been a supporter of the underdog. I just wanted a better life for Julie. Not to mention the tragedy that her family had already faced with the previous war. I will say that I did love Vera Sinclair as well. She wrote personal memoirs throughout the novel that were very inspiring to read!

I felt like I was aboard this ship and I constantly caught myself envisioning the lives of each of these women among the different classes. This book was full of historical facts and details that were significant to the times. Dana Gynther really knows her stuff, and she left quite the interesting historical note in the back of the book that lets readers in on a little more of her reasons for writing this book. I highly recommend it to anyone that loves historical fiction.

***I would like to say thank you and give a huge shout out to the publishers at Gallery Books. I received a copy of this book in exchange for my honest review***    

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