Passing Love by Jacqueline E. Luckett
Published: 2012 by Grand Central Publishing
Source: received ARC from author for review
Regular readers of my blog will know that I have a soft spot for books set in Paris. That influenced my decision to participate in the tour for this book.
Passing Love tells the story of Nicole-Marie and RubyMae in alternating chapters:
Nicole-Marie is a woman in her fifties and is about to embark on her first trip to Paris despite the pressure of her elderly mother and her sometimes lover to stay and be with them. Instilled with the love of French by her father from an early age, Nicole-Marie defies their wishes and makes her trip, not sure of what she will do once she arrives but knowing that she needs to do it.
RubyMae is a young woman in 1940s Mississippi and wants to escape the small town life that is confining her larger than life ambitions. She meets a young saxophone player with grand ambitions of his own and together they flee for Paris to realize their dreams.
The stories of these women come together in a surprising way that Nicole-Marie discovers almost by chance. For me, this is the point where the novel became interesting. Until this revelation, I was having trouble getting into the story because of the writing style and the typographical errors (to be fair, I was reading an advance uncorrected proof). But, once the plot twist was revealed, the story began to take over and any errors I encountered did not overshadow the reading experience. Once the twist is revealed, the story becomes one about identity and family ties instead of merely being one about the joys of Paris. Both Nicole-Marie and RubyMae were in Paris for particular reasons initially but by the end of the book I think those reasons changed dramatically.
Of course the descriptions of Paris in the two different time periods are lovely and with this book there is an added dimension of the jazz scene in Paris that existed in the 1940s and 50s when many black American soldiers stayed in Paris to enjoy the freedom they fought for but were not often entitled to in their own country.
Had I not been reviewing this book for the tour, I may not have finished it since I was having difficulty reading it at the beginning. But I am glad I stuck with it, because it turned out to be an enjoyable read. For other opinions of Passing Love, please be sure to check out the other stops on this blog tour: