It was at a Glasgow cafe that I first met Beatrice Colin: I had hoped to tap her expertise about the city’s literary gems, without realizing I was already having coffee with one. “I’ve written a novel,” she said, more nonchalantly than I’ve ever heard those words spoken. As soon as I started reading, I found myself climbing into the basket of a hot air balloon along with the characters Cait and Jamie, so vivid was the scene Colin set in Paris’s Champ de Mars, where the Eiffel Tower now looks over the city. In the novel’s opening pages, the tower is only a set of plans for what many Parisians thought might be a “truly tragic lamppost”—as Cait blurts out to Émile Nouguier, the tower’s co-designer whom she meets up in the air. Their attraction is instant, but back on the ground, their vastly different social strata become clear. As the tower slowly pushes upwards into the sky, so too does Cait and Émile’s love grow, but neither development is without obstacles, surprises, and secrets in the scaffolding, and the pair must ultimately decide what their love is worth. I’m thrilled that today readers can also explore 1880s Paris (and a bit of Glasgow!) via the dreamy world of TO CAPTURE WHAT WE CANNOT KEEP.
A December 2016 IndieNext Pick
A 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.”—BookPage
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
Colin’s moody, atmospheric novel captures both the idealism and the frustration of trying to chase one’s dreams, trying to fashion a more compelling life or simply realize an artistic vision. For those who have visited Paris or enjoy traveling to the City of Light on the page, To Capture What We Cannot Keep provides a captivating glimpse into the origin story of a cherished Parisian icon.”—Shelf Awareness
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
Beatrice Colin is 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 writes radio plays and adaptations for BBC Radio 4.