#BookReview: The Lost Love Letters of Henri Fournier by Rosalind Brackenbury

Biographic Fiction

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What do you do when you’ve lost the love of your life?

Seb Fowler has arrived in Paris to research his literary idol, Henri Fournier. It begins with an interview granted by a woman whose affair with the celebrated writer trails back to World War I. The enchanting Pauline is fragile, but her memories are alive—those of an illicit passion, of the chances she took and never regretted, and of the twists of fate that defined her unforgettable love story.

Through Pauline’s love letters, her secrets, and a lost Fournier manuscript, Seb will come to learn so much more—about Pauline, Henri, and himself. For Seb, every moment of Pauline’s past proves to be more inspiring than he could have imagined. She’s given him the courage to grab hold of whatever life offers, to cherish each risk, and to pursue love in his life.

Intimately epic, The Lost Love Letters of Henri Fournier spans generations to explore every beautiful mystery of falling in love, being in love, and losing a love —and, most important, daring to love again and discovering just how resilient the human heart can be.

Rosalind Brackenbury’s The Lost Love Letters of Henri Fournier was not easy for me to read. The slow pace of the narrative is paired with distinctly poetic prose and while I appreciated the artistry of both, I admit the reality proved difficult to get lost in.

Now before you make the mistaken assumption that I’m sharing this to discredit the novel or discourage its creator, know that my trouble is the direct result of a hectic schedule and a never-ending laundry list of responsibilities. Simply put, slow books put me to sleep and I want to encourage anyone who might suffer the same to look for the audio before giving up on this title as I found the narrated version much easier to absorb.

For those who aren't aware, The Lost Love Letters of Henri Fournier is inspired by the real-life love affair between Henri-Alban Fournier, author of Le Grand Meaulnes, and Pauline Benda, a French actress who was better known by her stage name, Madame Simone. It is a multi-generational story that examines great love, what it’s capable of, what one sacrifices to grasp it, and what happens when it ends.

I’m naturally drawn to harder and more complex novels, but even my cold heart was touched by Brackenbury’s vision. Having said that, I also found the story light on historic detail and felt the three timelines slightly unbalanced.

Rating: ★ ★ ★  
Obtained from: Netgalley/Kindle Unlimited
Read: September 4, 2018

There are stages in all love affairs that flag their progress as surely as milestones on a road. You have, both of you, to recognize them. They aren’t always happy, or easy, but they are points at which you can both say, Yes, that was then, and I was there, we were both there, and knew what was happening. The narrative of love stories depends on them.