Sunday, 11 November 2012
Crossing on the Paris by Dana Gynther
I enjoyed Crossing on the Paris a lot more than I expected to. I thought it would be shallow and possibly a bit cheesy, but it wasn't at all. The atmosphere of the 1920s and the glamour and squalor of ocean liners was captured well by Gynther and this made a great back-drop to the story. The three women were vividly written and easily distinguishable from each other. I liked the technique of splitting the book up in to chapters, with each one relating to a different day of the five-day crossing.
Of the three women, I found it easiest to relate to Julie. Having lost all of her brothers in the First World War, she's desperate for a chance to get away from the grief and poverty of her home in France and jumps at the opportunity to work on the boat. But she is assigned to serve in steerage class (3rd class) and the liner isn't as glamorous as she had hoped. Suffering with low self-esteem, she's overjoyed when a handsome engineer takes an interest in her and is swept away in what she thinks is a romantic fairy tale only to learn a very hard lesson about life. I really felt for Julie as I was reading her story and it's here that Gynther makes the plot more heavy going than I had anticipated it would be. This book definitely isn't as sweet as the cover makes it look.
I also enjoyed Constance's story. She's married to a man that she doesn't really love and gets a taste of freedom on board the Paris. With no one to answer to but herself, she fools people into thinking she isn't married and is tempted to have an affair with another passenger. Jealous of her sister's freedoms, Constance has to choose whether to live in the moment or remember all of her responsibilities I think this is something we all face in life, not necessarily with adultery, but we all have moments where we have to choose between what we want to do and what is the right thing to do. I didn't enjoy Vera's story as much as those of the other two women, but her voice was still engaging enough to make reading the book pleasant.
All in all, I enjoyed the time I spent with Crossing on the Paris. It's a lovely escapist read with more depth than I had anticipated. Fans of historical fiction would enjoy this title.
Source: From Simon & Schuster, via NetGalley
Published: 13th November 2012
Score: 4 out of 5