Title: Love Letters from Montmartre
Author: Nicolas Barreau
Published: November 26th 2019
Publisher: Hachette Australia
Genres: Fiction, Contemporary, Romance
Rating: 3.5 stars
Julien Azoulay is famous around the world for his beautiful romance novels. But last year, he stopped believing in love. When his beloved wife Helene died, leaving him alone to raise his young son, Julien lost his faith in the happier side of life – and with it his ability to write.
But Helene was clever. Before she died, she made Julien promise to write her one letter for each year of her life . . . and now, in this moment, in the most famous cemetery in Paris, Julien stands with his painful first letter in his hand. Here, even though Julien wouldn’t believe it, something wonderful is going to happen . . .
Come with us down the narrow streets, past the cosy red bistro on Rue Gabrielle, all the way to Montmartre cemetery with its beautiful stone angels, and discover the truth we all hope to find: that love is real, that miracles can happen and – most of all – that it’s never too late to rediscover your dreams.
LOVE LETTERS FROM MONTMARTRE is an ode to love, Paris and friendship. A love letter to readers and to anyone who believes in the healing power of the written word.
Love Letters from Montmartre is a touching and tender tribute to the weight of letters, the process of grief, the enchanting beauty of Paris and new love. Written by international bestselling author Nicolas Barreau, who speaks with sincerity and understanding, Love Letters from Montmartre gives a voice to overwhelming grief, with a hopeful tone. With echoes of the writing of Nina George and Nicholas Sparks, Barreau’s novel possesses widespread appeal.
Meet Julien Azoulay, an acclaimed romance novelist, known around the globe for his heartwarming tales. Julien’s world collapses when his wife passes away. Now a single father and a widow, Julien lacks the inspiration and mindset to continue penning the romantic novels that has made him a household name. Facing long term writer’s block, Julien is struck by a request made to him by his wife before she died. She issued Julien with a personal challenge, to pen a letter representing each year of her life. Julien struggles with this promise, but he determined to honour his wife’s wishes. In the graveyard where his wife lays, Julien deposits his letters, with surprising results. Love Letters from Montmartre travels through the quaint corners of Paris and through this art hub, as Julien begins to rediscover why Paris is named the city of love.
Love Letters from Montmartre has been translated by Daniela Thiele from German. Nicolas Barreau is a French writer and quite the enigma. The media information I gleaned on the author indicated that he is of both French and German descent, but his identity is a pseudonym. Nicolas Barreau is a rouse for a figure who is only known to his editor, his real identity is concealed for reasons unknown. I definitely found this fact intriguing! Another aspect that I found enlightening is the inspiration for the book. This is outlined by Barreau in the Postface, at the end of the novel.
‘The idea for this novel came to me several years ago when I was walking around an old cemetery one spring. It was not the Cimetiere Montmartre, which I chose for this book because I find it so unique. It was a small enchanting graveyard far from Paris.’
Being somewhat familiar with various locales around Paris, I was utterly taken by the setting and the quaint graveyard that is the stage for a significant proportion of the book. I could easily picture this locale, thanks to Barreau’s strong visual style of storytelling. It was a lovely feeling to be back in Paris, taking in the sights, the cuisine, the architecture, the people, the culture and the general way of life. I loved this aspect of the book.
Love Letters from Montmartre contains an interesting literary kickback device. The promise Julien made to his wife, to compose a series of letters presenting each year of her lost life, is sad but ingenious. Barreau handles the contrast between profound and deep grief, with a sense of hope. Bureau covers extensive emotional ground in his novel and he moves through the channels of loss with sensitivity, as well as insight. The healing power of the written word emerges as strong theme, touched with a little mystery. The support network Julien is lucky to possess adds further appeal to this tender-hearted tale. Love Letters from Montmartre emerges as a story filled with dreams and optimism for a future filled with new found love.
Sweet, life affirming, genuine and moving, Love Letters from Montmartre will restore your faith in embracing life again after loss. Nicolas Barreau’s welcoming tone will suit the reading tastes of a widespread audience range.
Love Letters from Montmartre by Nicolas Barreau is published by Hachette Australia. Out now. $32.99
*Thanks is extended to Hachette Australia for providing a free copy of this book for review purposes.
*Book #2 of the 2020 International Male Author Challenge.