The Lost Love Letters of Henri Fournier

Pub Date:   |   Archive Date: 31 Jul 2018

Member Reviews

I love the mystery of the love letters and finding out what happened with henri. Their love story was pretty good as well. I just wish that there was more of them together like a companion book or novella of them together. I love them.
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I loved the premise of this novel, but the plot moved along much too slowly for me.  Thank you to NetGalley and the publisher for a copy of this book.
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Thank you to Netgalley, the Publisher and the author, for the opportunity to read a complimentary copy of this book in return for my honest opinion and review.

This starts in 1975 when Seb, a reporter, goes to interview Pauline, a former lover of his literary idol, Henri Fornier.  This is Pauline's story and it takes us from 1912 London to the present, where Seb's story picks up and intertwines with her story.  This book was beautifully written but I found it really slow and hard to get into; several times I put it down and read something else.  That being said, it is a lovely book and I liked the overall story, I just found when there were too many time when the characters thoughts were interjected, and it dragged the story down for me.
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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.
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I decided to listen to the audio version of this book. Sometimes I do both, read at home and listen at work. However, sometimes a narrator is so good that I just feel the need to listen when I'm at home as well. And so it was with this book. Cassandra Campbell shifted between the characters effortlessly and her French accent is marvelous. It was a great joy to listen to this book.

I had no idea that the story in THE LOST LOVE LETTERS OF HENRI FOURNIER is based on real people. I didn't learn that until I read a review of the book and later on the afterwords by the author. This is a fictional tale of real people. My favorite kind of historical fiction. Interesting enough did I prefer the story set in the 1970s and the present, rather than the one set during the 1910s. Not that I disliked reading about Pauline love affair with Henri. I was just more engrossed in Pauline's recollections and Seb's story, both in the 70s and present. I really liked old Pauline, she was so full of wisdom and sass. And I could picture in my head her apartment in Paris filled with old things gathered through the years.

THE LOST LOVE LETTERS OF HENRI FOURNIER is a great historical fiction novel. I'm not a big fan of romance novels, but I do love reading a historical fiction with some romance now and then. And, if you also like books about real people, epic love stories, and tragic events then you will love this book!
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A slow start and certain aspects of it make it rather uninteresting. It's a boring story with too much jumping around. I didn't care much for the writing either.
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Was really looking forward to reading this book but unfortunately it fell short of my expectations. In my opinion, the book began slow and it continued as such throughout. I did enjoy the historical details and setting of it and because of that I am rating the book 3 stars. I received this book from net galley for an honest review. Rating, opinion and review is my own.
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I found this book to be a slow start, and it continued throughout the book. Based on love letters between young French author, Henri Fournier, and his love, Pauline. Setting is from pre-WWI France to currently 2013, and is a little bit of a plod to get through, only my opinion.
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The Lost Love Letters of Henri Fournier covers multiple time periods between World War One and the year 2013 telling stories of love, sorrow, war, and fate. Rosalind's mix between historical fiction and historical non fiction is just superb!  It has romance and history!!  Perfect combination!!
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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."

I love mysteries in the past and stories of lost love!
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Until I read the author's notes at the end of the book, I didn't know that the central characters in The Lost Love Letters of Henri Fournier were actual historical figures.  I had never heard of Henri Fournier (aka Alain-Fournier) or the apparent French classic Le Grand Meaulnes.  But reading this novel makes me want to add Le Grand Meaulnes to my TBR pile.

While I wish there had been much more historical detail, there is so much to like about this book. The characters and various love stories evoke strong emotions of love and loss.  Vivid scenes of French country life add to the novel's charms.
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This book covered a time period from 1910 to 2013 and jumped between them too much for my enjoyment.  I found as soon as I was invested in something happening that the time period would change.  I think I really would have loved reading about Sebastian and Pauline if the book was written in chronological order vs jumping all over the place.
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This novel was okay. As a fan of Historical fiction, I was massively let down. The story jumps around way too much and while one can easily keep track of the plot, it gets super boring and I almost wish the author had followed a sequence instead of jumping around. The characters are almost developed, their stories are explored but one doesn't connect with them at all! Instead, it feels like you're a spectator and not an audience. 
I got this ebook from NetGallery in exchange of an honest review!
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Fans of novels that explore relationships over time through letters etc. might enjoy this more than I did.  This is set in three periods-1912, 1975, and 2013.  Seb, on whom the story turns in some ways, starts things off in 1975 when he reaches out to Pauline, who then journeys in her mind back to 1912 when she meets Henri.  Then in 2013, Isabelle, granddaughter of Henri's sister, pops up and the story starts again.  Not my favorite of the genre.  Thanks to Netgalley for the ARC.
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The Lost Love Letters of Henri Fournier is a story about strata.  Layers.  In this historical novel based on fact, we see Pauline Benda in 1913/1914 as a young woman in love with Henri Fournier, a young Frenchman who has recently published his first novel.  Le Grand Meaulnes is already making waves in the literary world. Only 27 years old, Henri is already a lieutenant in the French Military. As Europe gears up for The Great War both Henri and Pauline know that he will be called up with the first rank of soldiers.  Pauline, an actress working under the name of Madame Simone, is divorced and remarried when she meets Henri.  For them both it is a passionate affair with the added intensity of the approaching war.  Henri has begun his second novel, though he is having problems with it over and above finding time to write.  Henri's Catholic family, especially his sister Isabelle, find Pauline an unsuitable mate for Henri, although his Mother comes to rely on Pauline after Henri and his troops ship out.  

In 1975 a young English journalist, Sebastian Fowler, finds himself compelled to re-read Le Grand Meaulnes yet again, and decides to research Henri Fournier with the idea of writing a biography.  To his surprise he finds that Madame Simone - Pauline Benda - is still alive and living in Paris.  She is 98 years old but still sharp and she agrees to see him. On first meeting, Pauline is fairly sure she can answer a few questions and have him on his way by lunch.  Or maybe she will feed him lunch before she sends him on his way.  But as they find common ground and become friends, the interviews about her time with Henri become something they both look forward to, and Pauline feels she can open her home - but not her wartime correspondence -  to Seb as she trusts him to draw a true picture of Henri and his time.  And she passes on to him an important life lesson.  Don't hesitate to tell the people you love that they have your heart.  Weeks later when he returns to London, Seb proposes to Annie, the woman he loves, despite the fact that she is now dating his best friend.  

In 2013 shortly after losing Annie, his wife of forty years, Seb receives an email  from Isabelle de Giovanni, the granddaughter of Henri's sister Isabelle.  She has traced him through his publisher.  Isabelle has found some papers in her family home in rural France that she feels he, who did an interesting and sympathetic biography of her great uncle,  might have an interest in.  There are what appear to be parts of an unfinished, unpublished novel and some letters.  And though he is heartbroken and numb, the very idea of escaping the endless winter and his home without Annie makes him jump at the chance of a trip to rural France just as soon as his teaching commitment ends in June.  

France is lovely.  Isabelle is lovely.  And Pauline's advice of long ago is still an important life lesson.

This is an excellent look into the effects of war and peace on society, both then and now.  It is an excellent look into the costs of war.  And it is a novel I am glad to have read, that I can happily recommend to friends and family.    

I received an electronic copy of this historical novel based on fact from Netgalley, Rosalind Brackenbury, and Lake Union Publishing in exchange for an honest review.  Thank you all for sharing your hard work with me.
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Spanning time from 1910 to 2013, this tale of forbidden love, war and the taboos of the time. 

Little did Sebastian know that first interview with Pauline in 1975, would send him on a journey, to write his book, to fall in love and then lose her before going back to where it began. Only this time Pauline is long gone and what is left are Henri's family.

And more lost letters and another unpublished story. And within a few weeks he is planning on selling his own home and living with the last of the family.

This is the story of a very young man, having an affair with a very married man as well as being an actress of some fame. Henri' is young and impressionable and full of energy and writes a beautiful book before war comes calling and Henri will not be returning.

The problem for me was the love letters. Really there wasn't a lot told about exactly what was in them. Every thought each character had been written down and it slowed the pace significantly enough that I got bored and didn't really care about any of them. They were all rather superficial and hard to care about. Even though they did exist. Pauline and Henri. And his body was found and returned home. The unpublished work never published but the originals were by their descendants. 

NetGalley/ Lake Union Publishing June 12, 2018
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I love any book that has to do with letters or books. This one did not disappoint. It was a great historical fiction.
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The story alternates between past and present. It starts in 1975 with a young reporter Seb, who researches his literary idol, Henri Fournier. He arrives in Paris to interview Pauline – a woman who had an affair with Henri Fournier before WWI.

The story starts very slow and it gets even slower when Seb’s and Pauline’s thoughts are interjected into already slow story.

As the story goes back in time to 1912, when Pauline leaves London after weeks of playing in The Detour and returns to Paris, the story doesn’t get any better. For a second it seems as it is about to pick up in pace, but then the prose is so simple that it is disengaging. 

With England behind her and approaching France: “You saw water between you and the land, and then it was gone. You came smoothly, or bumpily, alongside. Land. France. Square wet cobbles and men in blue; gulls hanging screaming above the fishing boats; slick slate Normandy roofs; the familiar size and scale of it all.”

And again her thoughts interjected into her story slow the pace tremendously. 

Upon her return to Paris, she meets Henri Fournier.

Present time, 2013 Oxford. Isabelle de Giovanni is Henri’s great-niece. She traces Seb and contacts him in regards to his great-uncle’s unpublished novel, which he was working on right before his death in the Great War. 

Overall, very slow pace, not an engaging read.
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I really enjoyed this book, the charcacter descriptions were heartbreaking and so evocative of Paris, I could almost imagine myself there. I felt the sections dated to World War One were by far the strongest, the author has clearly done her research. The modern sections I felt were somewhat weaker and I found myself skim reading them towards the end. I would highly  recommend this book. A thoroughly beautiful, timeless romance.
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