I’m delighted to be participating in the blog tour ( courtesy of Historical Fiction Virtual Book Tours) for the newest historical fiction release from M. J. Rose, author of The Collector of Dying Breaths, Seduction, and The Book of Lost Fragrances.
|Publication Date: March 17, 2015
Formats: Hardcover, Ebook
Genre: Historical Mystery
Possession. Power. Passion. International bestselling novelist M.J. Rose creates her most provocative and magical spellbinder yet in this erotic, gothic novel set against the lavish spectacle of 1890s Belle Époque Paris.
Sandrine Salome runs away to her grandmother’s Parisian mansion to escape her dangerous husband, but what she finds is even more menacing. The house, famous for its lavish art collection and elegant salons, is mysteriously closed up. Although her grandmother insists it’s dangerous for Sandrine to visit, she defies her and meets Julien Duplessi, a mesmerizing young architect. Together they explore the hidden night world of Paris, the forbidden occult underground and Sandrine’s deepest desires.
Among the bohemians and the demi-monde, Sandrine discovers her erotic nature as a lover and painter. Then darker influences threaten – her cold and cruel husband is tracking her down and something sinister is taking hold, changing Sandrine, altering her. She’s become possessed by La Lune: A witch, a legend and a sixteenth-century courtesan, who opens up her life to a darkness that may become a gift or a curse.
This is Sandrine’s “wild night of the soul,” her odyssey in the magnificent city of Paris, of art, love and witchery.
The Witch of Painted Sorrows surprised me in all the right ways! Elegant, steamy, and haunting, The Witch of Painted Sorrows follows a young woman, Sandrine, as she seeks a new beginning away from her cruel husband and painful memories. She takes refuge with her grandmother, a renowned and sought-after courtesan, who seems fearful when Sandrine arrives unexpectedly in Paris. Sandrine’s grandmother’s cardinal rule has always been to never fall in love — but why? To remain free and unattached, admired but never trapped? Or is there something more to the warning, something perhaps much more sinister?
There’s so much to enjoy in The Witch of Painted Sorrows. We view the thriving, competitive world of art academies and ateliers, as Sandrine pursues her new-found calling. We see a young woman’s awakening to lust and sexual satisfaction. We also see the hidden world of occult enthusiasts, séances, alchemists, and more, as the odd occurrences that surround Sandrine become harder and harder for her to ignore.
I loved the many layers of the story, as the writing takes us through hints of dark secrets, supernatural phenomena, and human emotions. The answers aren’t as easy as they might seem, and it becomes increasingly difficult to know whether we’re seeing through Sandrine’s eyes or through the eyes of the obsessed spirit of La Lune. As an added bonus, the depiction of Paris at the end of the 19th century is stimulating and visceral, capturing the sense of grandeur on the cusp of a new, exciting era. The familiar Parisian landmarks add a touch of realism to the story, rooting it deeply in a particular time and place, and at the same time conveying the wonder of it all.
There are some wonderful characters in this story. Sandrine herself goes through the most startling and dramatic transformation, but I also really enjoyed her grandmother, a woman of sixty-six who’s vital, sexy, and smart, and absolutely knows how to use her brains and beauty to get her way. It’s refreshing to see a woman of her age who so clearly is still at the center of a non-stop crowd of adoring men. Sandrine’s lover, Julien, is also quite wonderful, and it’s easy to understand Sandrine’s connection to him. The sparks practically fly off the page!
All in all, I’d say that The Witch of Painted Sorrows is a skillfully drawn portrait of a moment in history, infused with a chilling supernatural element that adds a real shiver of fright to the story. And just wait until you get to that ending! With an enveloping atmosphere, characters who break free of their gender-defined, society-approved roles, and a family past shrouded in secrets, The Witch of Painted Sorrows is a compelling read that’s hard to put down. Don’t miss it!
Buy the Book
About the Author
M.J. Rose grew up in New York City, mostly in the labyrinthine galleries of the Metropolitan Museum, the dark tunnels and lush gardens of Central Park and reading her mother’s favorite books before she was allowed.
She is the author of more than a dozen novels, the co-president and founding board member of International Thriller Writers and the founder of the first marketing company for authors: AuthorBuzz.com. She lives in Greenwich, Connecticut. Visit her online at MJRose.com.
Sign up for M.J. Rose’s newsletter and get information about new releases, free book downloads, contests, excerpts and more.