To Capture What We Cannot Keep by Beatrice Colin
I love all things French and especially Parisian, so when I saw this book, I knew I had to read it. Set in 1880s Paris during the construction of the Eiffel Tower, To Capture What We Cannot Keep is a historical novel, but it’s also a romance. Not a genre romance, but a story of a man and a woman who fall in love and want desperately to be together. Cait and Émile certainly had their challenges, but I couldn’t help but cheer them on, even when their relationship seemed pretty hopeless.
More than the romance, though, I enjoyed Colin’s writing. Her imagery is so vivid and creative, and I really enjoyed reading about late nineteenth century Paris through her story. I also appreciated the complexity of the characters and the fact that they mostly behaved as they should within their own time, and when they didn’t, there were repercussions.
I gave this book four stars because I enjoyed the writing and the story, but it did have some clunky bits. In one instance, Cait was walking outside, thinking about flowers and bushes, and then out of nowhere jumped to a specific thought about Émile. It didn’t make sense and lacked the proper transition. One minute we were reading about the colors of a flower petal, the next, misgivings about Émile’s interest in Cait. If I operated on a half star system, I would give this a solid three and a half stars, but because that’s more complicated than I want to get into and because I really did enjoy reading this, I’ll stick with four.
If you enjoy historical fiction with a romantic undertone, and if you’re curious about what Paris was like during the construction of the Eiffel Tower, this just might be the book for you. Go ahead and give it a try!
*ARC from Flatiron Books via NetGalley