To Capture What We Cannot Keep by Beatrice Colin

To Capture What We Cannot Keep: A Novel by [Colin, Beatrice]

3 Stars

Publisher: Flatiron Books

Date of publication: November 29th, 2016

Where to find this book: Amazon

Genre: General Fiction

Book Synopsis:

Set against the construction of the Eiffel Tower, this novel charts the relationship between a young Scottish widow and a French engineer who, despite constraints of class and wealth, fall in love.

In February 1887, Caitriona Wallace and Émile Nouguier meet in a hot air balloon, floating high above Paris, France–a moment of pure possibility. But back on firm ground, their vastly different social strata become clear. Cait is a widow who because of her precarious financial situation is forced to chaperone two wealthy Scottish charges. Émile is expected to take on the bourgeois stability of his family’s business and choose a suitable wife. As the Eiffel Tower rises, a marvel of steel and air and light, the subject of extreme controversy and a symbol of the future, Cait and Émile must decide what their love is worth.

Seamlessly weaving historical detail and vivid invention, Beatrice Colin evokes the revolutionary time in which Cait and Émile live–one of corsets and secret trysts, duels and Bohemian independence, strict tradition and Impressionist experimentation. To Capture What We Cannot Keep, stylish, provocative, and shimmering, raises probing questions about a woman’s place in that world, the overarching reach of class distinctions, and the sacrifices love requires of us all.


My Review:

When I started reading this book, I didn’t know what to think about it. The plot crept and I felt that it was weighted down by one-dimensional characters. I felt that there was no life for anyone but Cait and Emile. Jamie, Alice, and Gabrielle, their portrayals were stereotypical of that time.

I changed my mind by the 2nd half of the book. We learn more about Cait’s marriage, Alice and Jamie flushed out as characters and in surprising ways and Gabrielle, well she ended up being a woman scorned.

The love story of Cait and Emile was present, as was the construction of the Eiffel Tower and Emile’s social/status obligations. Which made the 2nd half of the book so interesting to read.

The ending of the book was perfect. Just saying, I couldn’t have written it any better myself.


I would give To Capture What We Cannot Keep an Adult rating. There are sexual situations. There is language. There is violence. I would recommend that no one under the age of 21 read this book.

I am on the fence if I would reread To Capture What We Cannot Keep. I am on the fence if I would recommend it to family and friends.

**I voluntarily reviewed a complimentary copy of this book**

One thought on “To Capture What We Cannot Keep by Beatrice Colin

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