Received: Received a copy from Penguin Canada in exchange for an honest reviewRelease Date: April 2, 2013
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A deeply evocative love story of a literary giant set in the glittering world of French expats in WWII Manhattan-for fans of The Paris Wife
Set in Manhattan and Quebec City in 1943, Studio Saint-Ex is a fictionalized account of the love triangle among Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, his mercurial wife, Consuelo, and a young fashion designer. Mignonne Lachapelle leaves Montreal for New York to make her name, but is swept away by the charms of France’s greatest living writer. Nothing about their relationship is simple—not Antoine’s estranged wife who entangles Mig in her schemes to reclaim her husband, not his turmoil, and certainly not their tempestuous trysts or the blurring boundaries of their artistic pursuits. Yet the greatest complication comes in the form of a deceptively simple manuscript: Antoine’s work-in-progress, The Little Prince, a tender tale of loneliness, friendship, love, and loss in the form of a young prince fallen to earth.
Studio Saint-Ex is a deeply evocative love story of a literary giant caught between two talented and mesmerizing women, set in the glittering world of French expatriates in Manhattan during World War II. Reminiscent of The Paris Wife, Loving Frank, and The Rules of Civility, Studio Saint-Ex explores themes of love, passion, and creativity in sophisticated, literary prose.
I went into this book not really sure what I was expecting, I did think it was going to be a book about Antoine Saint-Exupery, but what I came out with was something completely different and utterly beautiful. This book is not as much about Antoine as it is about these two women who are vying for his affection and attention. The story is told from the perspectives of both Mignonne and Consuelo, both dealing with losing the person they love and the come together in unexpected circumstances.
What really surprised me about this book was the descriptions and the writing style used throughout the story. I never would have thought that the idea of trying on and feeling material could be so sensual, but the way Ania Szado writes is so compelling that I wanted to be feeling the material and working with these characters. I felt myself drawn into this story as I quickly came to understand each of the characters. There are many scenes that the way Szado describes the feelings, made my heart jump and really brought everything to life.
The love triangle in this book was intriguing (I don't even know if I can completely call it a love triangle rather than just three people whose lives all intersect). Everything about these characters was so complicated and I found myself disturbed how certain things were handled at times and yet still so intrigued. I loved the two female characters in this book and I'm glad that it was more centred around them than it was around Antoine. They are both strong and stubborn women, each of them will do anything to get what they want in the end, and some of the things they did were shocking.
What really affected me in this book was the way that Szado spoke of the different artistic ventures that these characters take. Each of the characters works with their hands, Antoine as a writer, Mignonne a fashion designer and Consuelo works with sculpting, the descriptions of their work is beautiful and so detailed, and I wanted more.
The Little Prince is a large influence in this book but it is not the focus, the characters are the focus. It was interesting to see how the book The Little Prince did finally come into perspective and the idea of what drove Saint-Exupery to write it. I loved learning more about Saint-Exupery in this book, he was an interesting character and his thoughts and opinions kept me wondering about him.
This book comes out at a perfect time, with the 70th anniversary of The Little Prince and I believe it to be a beautiful companion to an already amazing children's story. What I learned about the story of The Little Prince in Szado's book makes me want to go back and read it again to look for all these clues.