Legendary storyteller Barbara Taylor Bradford presents a spellbinding story of four women transformed by old memories and surprising revelations when they meet again at a school reunion in Paris.As students at the prestigious Anya Sedgwick School of Decorative Arts in Paris, Alexandra Gordon, Kay Lenox, Jessica Pierce, and Maria Franconi share the challenges and excitement of developing their various artistic talents to the fullest under Sedgwick's caring and demanding guidance. Once best friends, they part enemies, and after graduation go their separate ways, pursuing careers and establishing lives in different corners of the world. Alexandra, a set designer, becomes a leading figure in New York's theater world.
The bestselling grande dame of popular women's fiction is back with her 18th book, after The Triumph of Katie Byrne. Replete with mystery, romance, secrets and conflict, Bradford's latest examines the lives of four women, alumni of an exclusive arts school in Paris, who must confront their stormy pasts when they are invited to attend a special birthday party. Anya Sedgwick, the indomitable doyenne of the school, wants her four favorite pupils to repair their destroyed friendship and help celebrate her 85th birthday. With the exception of Anya, however, none of the protagonists are the sparkling, unforgettable characters Bradford is usually so adept at crafting. Three of the four women, at the apex of their careers only seven years out of school, seem to blend into each other despite their disparate backgrounds. Alexandra is a renowned set designer; Kay has become a successful couturier; Jessica is a top interior designer; and Maria, whose biggest challenge is to lose a considerable amount of weight before the reunion, is slogging away at the family textile business, with a promising painting career on the side. There is some pathos in Kay's background, but the author glosses over the trauma of early sexual abuse; in fact, most of the tensions in the book are glossed over. Even the spat that tore the four apart is a trifle. But Bradford's knack fordepicting elegant surroundings and happy-ever-after romance should satisfy most of her fans. (Feb.) Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information. -- PUBLISHERS WEEKLY.
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December 31, 2001
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Excerpt from Three Weeks in Paris by Barbara Taylor Bradford
It was her favorite time of day. Dusk. That in-between hour before night descended when everything was softly muted, merging together. The twilight hour.
Her Scottish nanny had called it the gloaming. She loved that name; it conjured up so much, and even when she was a little girl she had looked forward to the late afternoon, that period just before supper. As she had walked home from school with her brother Tim, Nanny between them, tightly holding on to their hands, she had always felt a twinge of excitement, an expectancy, as if something special awaited her. This feeling had never changed. It had stayed with her over the years, and wherever she was in the world, dusk never failed to give her a distinct sense of anticipation.
She stepped away from her drawing table and went across to the window of her downtown loft, peered out, looking toward the upper reaches of Manhattan. To Alexandra Gordon the sky was absolutely perfect at this precise moment . . . its color a mixture of plum and violet toned down by a hint of smoky gray bleeding into a faded pink. The colors of antiquity, reminiscent of Byzantium and Florence and ancient Greece. And the towers and spires and skyscrapers of this great modern metropolis were blurred, smudged into a sort of timelessness, seemed of no particular period at this moment, inchoate images cast against that almost-violet sky.
Alexandra smiled to herself. For as far back as she could remember she had believed that this time of day was magical. In the movie business, which she was occasionally a part of these days, dusk was actually called the Magic Hour. Wasn't it odd that she herself had named it that when she was only a child
Staring out across the skyline, fragments of her childhood came rushing back to her. For a moment she fell down into her memories . . . memories of the years spent growing up on the Upper East Side of this city . . . of a childhood filled with love and security and the most wondrous of times. Even though their mother had worked, still worked in fact, she and Tim had never been neglected by her, nor by their father. But it was her mother who was the best part of her, and, in more than one sense, she was the product of her mother.
Lost in remembrances of times past, she eventually roused herself and went back to the drawing board, looking at the panel she had just completed. It was the final one in a series of six, and together they composed a winter landscape in the countryside.
She knew she had captured most effectively the essence of a cold, snowy evening in the woods, and bending forward, she picked up the panel and carried it to the other side of the studio, placing it on a wide viewing shelf where the rest of the panels were aligned. Staring intently at the now-complete set, she envisioned them as a giant-size backdrop on the stage, which is what they would soon become. As far as she was concerned, the panels were arresting, and depicted exactly what the director had requested.
"I want to experience the cold, Alexa," Tony Verity had told her at the first production meeting, after he had taken her through the play. "I want to shiver with cold, crunch down into my overcoat, feel the icy night in my bones. Your sets must make me want to rush indoors, to be in front of a roaring fire."