This first novel is somewhere between three and four stars for me. Merging two favorite topics — art and Paris — Ms. Keenum's knowledge is accurate, and I am comfortable with her presentation of the city in the late 1800s. She crafts a believable "envelope" for her story. (Reality is a dealbreaker if lacking.)
Her characters are engaging, although the cast is large and sometimes confusing. I understand she needs an ensemble cast for this story, but believe she could have pared the characters without harming the flow. Her portrayal of immigrants, and the exit of American artists to Paris at this time, is consistent with what I've read elsewhere, and by focusing on females, she presents a slightly different "take" on the usual depictions. Her development of France's eastern coast was lovely, although lacking in the senses I mention in the following paragraph, but could have been more enjoyable. Her depiction of laudanum addiction is sensitive and well-used.
I would have liked more descriptions of Paris's sensory impact. I know it has both good and bad smells, and is full of color and sound regardless of the month. From other reading, I know this also was true in the late 1800s. If I can fault Ms. Keenum anything, it would be she didn't include enough of all senses in her writing, and Paris is, as Hemingway said, "...a moveable feast" which merits use of every sense.
SO if you enjoy art, and all things French (except the attitude of the ocassional taxi driver), this might be an enjoyable diversion worth hanging on through a slightly slow beginning.
I'm looking forward to reading more of her work, and congratulate her on her first release.