To Capture What We Cannot Keep by Beatrice Colin

To Capture What We Cannot Keep by Beatrice Colin


  • Genre: Historical Fiction, Romance
  • Rating: ★★★

From Netgalley: 

“Set against the construction of the Eiffel Tower, this novel charts the relationship between a young widow and an 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–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.”

Normally I would write my own description of a book I am reviewing, but I had a hard time describing this novel. Even the description above doesn’t really capture what the book is actually about, in my opinion. Yes, To Capture What We Cannot Keep is about two people from different social classes who fall in love, but the focus was not on the main characters as much as I wanted it to be, which may be why I didn’t love it.

As this is historical fiction I found the description of the time and the events that occurred very interesting. I really enjoyed learning more about the process that went with the construction of the Eiffel Tower. Are they historically accurate? I have no idea but I appreciated the amount of time and detail the author spent on this component of the novel.

However, it was slow. I feel like the author really wanted to spend time building characters and setting, but they still weren’t easy for me to connect to. From the very beginning I could tell that there would be a lot of building up and then I expected a great ending… and I was let down. Normally I love ambiguous endings, but I did not like this ending at all.

I skimmed a lot of this novel, so maybe I’m just missing something. So if you love historical fiction that centers around romance, then maybe you’ll love this book and tell me what I’m missing.


Happy Reading, 



I received an advanced copy of To Capture What We Cannot Keep from NetGalley and Flatiron Books in exchange for an honest review. To Capture What We Cannot Keep will be available for purchase November 29, 2016.


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