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To Capture What We Cannot Keep: A Novel (Hardcover)

To Capture What We Cannot Keep: A Novel By Beatrice Colin Cover Image
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December 2016 Indie Next List

“Societal constraints and expectations of the time impede the love affair of Caitriona Wallace and Emile Nouguier from the moment they meet in a hot air balloon above the Champ de Mars in 1886. Emile's ailing mother is pressuring him to marry, start a family, and take over the family business even as he is facing both public and professional stress as co-designer of the Eiffel Tower. Cait is a young Scottish widow forced to work as a chaperone to a wealthy brother and sister. Cait's and Emile's paths cross and crisscross as Colin vividly captures the sights and sounds of La Belle Epoque in this quiet, atmospheric novel.”
— Jennifer Gwydir (M), Blue Willow Bookshop, Houston, TX


Set against the construction of the Eiffel Tower, this novel charts the relationship between a young Scottish widow and a French engineer who, despite constraints of class and wealth, fall in love.

In February 1887, Caitriona Wallace and Émile Nouguier meet in a hot air balloon, floating high above Paris, France--a moment of pure possibility. But back on firm ground, their vastly different social strata become clear. Cait is a widow who because of her precarious financial situation is forced to chaperone two wealthy Scottish charges. Émile is expected to take on the bourgeois stability of his family's business and choose a suitable wife. As the Eiffel Tower rises, a marvel of steel and air and light, the subject of extreme controversy and a symbol of the future, Cait and Émile must decide what their love is worth.

Seamlessly weaving historical detail and vivid invention, Beatrice Colin evokes the revolutionary time in which Cait and Émile live--one of corsets and secret trysts, duels and Bohemian independence, strict tradition and Impressionist experimentation. To Capture What We Cannot Keep, stylish, provocative, and shimmering, raises probing questions about a woman's place in that world, the overarching reach of class distinctions, and the sacrifices love requires of us all.

About the Author

Beatrice Colin was a novelist based in Glasgow. The Glimmer Palace (2008), a novel set in Berlin in the early 20th century, was translated into eight languages, was a Richard and Judy pick, and was short-listed for several major awards. Colin also wrote radio plays and adaptations for BBC Radio 4.

Praise For…

“It’s sexy escapism, but the book’s real selling point is its illumination of 19th-century Paris and that phenomenal landmark.”
—People Magazine (Book of the Week)

“Colin ably brings to life a time before the iron lattice of the Eiffel Tower became an iconic part of the Parisian landscape. To Capture What We Cannot Keep is part history lesson and part thrilling love story, leading to an ending full of depth, promise, and hope.”

“Transportive…You’ll instantly be wrapped up in this novel’s vibrant world.”

“To be in Paris to witness the construction of the Eiffel Tower is a magnificent occasion: to have a hand, however small, in its building, even better…This exquisitely written, shadowy historical novel will appeal to a wide variety of readers, including fans of the Belle Époque.”
Library Journal (starred review)

“Colin has a sure hand with the atmospheres of both [Paris and Glasgow] and with the mores and dress of the period, and she manages to continually raise the stakes for her characters without ever resorting to melodrama. A novel of soaring ambitions, public and private.”
Kirkus Reviews

“Once I entered the world of Beatrice Colin's novel, To Capture What We Cannot Keep, I did not want to leave it! Set against the enticing backdrop of Parisian life in 1880's, as Monsieur Eiffel constructs his tower, this book is both daring in its historical scope, and rich in its intimacy. It is a must-read for every fan of Paris, for every fan of the fight for love against the odds, and for every fan of great and deeply satisfying storytelling.”
—David Gillham, New York Times bestselling author of City of Women

To Capture What We Cannot Keep is reminiscent of the Paris it so beautifully, hauntingly brings to life: it's romantic, moving, and memorable. And while Beatrice Colin captures the excitement that surrounded the construction of the Eiffel Tower, the real lights of Paris are the women and men she created whose stories I avidly followed.”
—Chris Bohjalian, New York Times bestselling author of The Guest Room and The Light in Ruins

“A compelling story of love constricted by the demands of separate social classes. Told against the splendidly absorbing background of the building of the Eiffel Tower, it emerges as fresh and different. A captivating read.”
—Kate Alcott, New York Times bestselling author of The Dressmaker

Product Details
ISBN: 9781250071446
ISBN-10: 1250071445
Publisher: Flatiron Books
Publication Date: November 29th, 2016
Pages: 304
Language: English