A woman seeks to put her troubled childhood behind her in Barrett’s debut novel.
Elizabeth Parker Morgan is born into a family of great privilege and great sorrow. Her mother, unable to overcome her own childhood traumas, has become an ill, unstable recluse; her father is an often absent, cruel man who inherits the unwanted burden of a successful family business. Elizabeth escapes to boarding school, college, and, ultimately, a life abroad in France. In the beauty and light of Lyon, she lives out her own fairy tale. Her job is challenging but fulfilling, and she soon becomes indispensable to her company. Thanks to her employer and benefactor, she settles into a beautiful, furnished apartment of her own. As is the case in all fairy tales, Elizabeth falls head over heels for a handsome man, yet she also discovers that the path of true love isn’t easy. Antonio Ponti has a dark past, and his old ties to gamblers haunt his personal and professional lives. The lovers are torn apart by a threat of violence, and Elizabeth flees back to the United States, brokenhearted and pregnant. However, she’s buoyed by the love of her friends and her brother and determined to make a good life for her child. Despite the shadows that surround her, Elizabeth learns the value of unconditional love and finds herself questioning whether a future with Antonio is still possible. Barrett’s novel is a light but worthwhile read. She’s a highly descriptive writer who paints lovely pictures of cobblestone streets, sun-dazzled plazas, and intimate cafes. Although her narrative of star-crossed lovers isn’t unique, it does have an unusual twist: in a pleasant departure from the traditional fairy-tale trajectory, Barrett’s heroine relies on her own determination and creates her own successes rather than waiting to be rescued by a man. It’s a welcome contrast to the sexist, demeaning attitudes that defined Elizabeth’s childhood and a satisfying victory for a protagonist who broke a cycle of abuse and unhappiness.
A sweet story of strength and second chances.