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With Kisses From Cecile by Jan Agnello & Anne Armistead Blog Tour with Personal Review!
With Kisses from Cécile by Jan Agnello & Anne Armistead
Publication Date: September 12, 2019
eBook & Paperback
Genre: Historical Fiction
A heartbroken Maggie travels to Paris to visit the grave of her great-grandmother’s French pen pal Cécile and uncovers 100-year-old secrets that give her courage to rebuild her own life.
Maggie Ruth Mitchell’s failed attempt at reconciliation with her unfaithful husband has left her more confused than ever—and with a consequence that will change her life forever. Heartbroken, Maggie travels to Paris to visit the grave of Cécile, the French pen pal of her great-grandmother Ruth. Reading Cécile's letters and learning about Ruth’s past gives Maggie not only an understanding of the strength and courage of the women in her family—all sharing the name Ruth—but also allows Maggie to find her way forward.
In the year 1919 following World War 1, two young girls, Ruth and Cécile, find each other through a Pen Pal program between American and French students. In their letters they share their dreams and bare their heartaches. A tragic death of a loved one has torn Ruth’s family apart, leaving her with a dark secret to hide. Cécile, having survived the bombs that devastated Paris, is battling against consumption. Ruth draws courage from her pen pal’s inspiring letters, each signed With Kisses from Cécile, to face what fate brings.
I honestly thought this book was great! I am a sucker for places such as Paris and period pieces and the juxtaposition of present and past - and this had all of those features. Maggie is a woman who has just found out her marriage is over, that her husband is a cheater, and of course their trip to Paris ... well, that didn't work out, so she takes her Grams with her. It's not exactly how she wanted or expected things to work out, but she is trying to be strong and make the best of things - and not continue crying over her husband Cole. We find out at the beginning of the book that he had wanted children and she was just not ready yet, thus driving the wedge between them and he looked for it elsewhere, and found it at work with a pretty young redhead. Maggie doesn't want her marriage to be over, but she simply can't trust Cole anymore. She is excited to take her Grams to Paris and hopes for the best.
While she is awaiting the trip to begin, her Grams starts to tell her about some very old letters from a woman named Cecile that her own mother had been pen pals with a long time ago. Cecile lived in Paris during the rebuilding of Paris after the Treaty of Versailles was signed and the war had come to an end. So thus begins the story of Ruth - Maggie's Great Grandmother - and Cecile. At this point the story switches from being told from Maggie's perspective over to being told from Ruth's perspective - how she loved receiving letters from Cecile and did not like to be interrupted. It seems as though her family life was not good and that perhaps she didn't get along with her mother much, in a sense it mirrors the relationship between Maggie and her own mother. And we also find out that Cecile is writing these letters while she is battling consumption, a disease that was rampant back in the old days and she is slowly withering away. And then we find out that Maggie has a very large secret of her own - she is pregnant with Cole's child and has not told him and really doesn't want to tell him. Quite a revelation for the beginning of the book, and it is very interesting to see the relationship between Ruth and Cecile develops throughout the book as well as the relationship between Maggie and Grams. The character of Cecile is very richly complex, even though we only see her through her letters and through the eyes of Ruth. And as the story progresses, we see so much more in the other 2 main characters of Maggie and Grams, and how closely they are able to bond due to the trip and the letters.
This truly is a story of love, hope, longing, forgiveness and finding peace at the end of a long journey, and it probably never would have happened had Maggie not read the letters from Cecile. They awaken something inside of her that she didn't realize was there - her childhood had not been happy, she was not against having children but scared to be a mother, and figuring out that she was able to do it on her own and didn't need Cole to make her life better. And of course the most important theme of all - friendship. The bond between Ruth and Cecile is one that is surprising for 2 people who don't know each other except through correspondence, but their friendship seems to transcend all others and helps each of them heal from their problems in some way. I won't say whether she tells him about the baby or whether they get back together in the end. But this is a fabulous journey filled with amazing stories set against the backdrop of the gorgeous sights of Paris at an epic time in history. I highly recommend this book, it's probably one of the best historical fiction novels I have read, it's full of beautiful stories, sad stories, gorgeous expressions of historic times and much more. I would definitely also recommend some tissues, as there are a lot of sad moments and tearjerker moments in this book - but also ones that will make you cry because they are beautiful or happy moments!
About the Authors
Photo Credit: Sitting Pretty Photos
JAN AGNELLO comes from several generations of hobbiest antiquers. Her love of stories behind the antiques inspired her in 2013 to form Storyology Design, now Storyology Design and Publication. The necklaces Jan crafts from antique coin purses have generated a loyal customer following and garnered attention from the Atlanta Journal Constitution, jewelry network executives, and TV and film costume designers. Her love of books, romance, history, and unique jewelry design led her to collaborate with author Anne Armistead to offer a series of historical novels, each paired with heirloom quality jewelry named for the female protagonist. The first in the series, WITH KISSES FROM CÉCILE, is a story of love and redemption drawn from Jan’s family history. It is paired with THE CÉCILE JEWELRY COLLECTION. Visit storyologydesign.com to learn more about Jan and Storyology.
ANNE ARMISTEAD is a writer of historical romance. She earned her English literature degree from the University of Georgia and her MFA in creative writing from Spalding University. Her background includes project management with AT&T and teaching English at the middle, high, and college levels. She is a member of the Romance Writers of America and the Georgia Writers of Romance. WITH KISSES FROM CÉCILE is her second romance, following the publication of DANGEROUS CONJURINGS (Soul Mate Publishing, April 2018). Anne writes for and serves as an editor for Storyology Design and Publication. Visit annearmisteadauthor.com to learn more about Anne and her novels.
During the Blog Tour, we are giving away a paperback copy of With Kisses From Cecile! To enter, please use the Gleam form below.
– Giveaway ends at 11:59 pm EST on September 17th. You must be 18 or older to enter.
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– Only one entry per household.
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– The winner has 48 hours to claim prize or a new winner is chosen.
With Kisses From Cecile
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Great review, Erika! I'm so glad that you enjoyed it & we appreciate you hosting the tour!ReplyDelete
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